Monday, March 31, 2008

Who giveth this woman?

The bride being given away by her father was part of the Hindu and Christian wedding ceremony, if not of the wedding rituals of many other communities. She was, as it were, symbolically handed over to the groom, the man who was supposed to take care of her 'till death do us part'.
When I got married, some decades ago, it was a part of the ceremony. I was happy to be marrying the man I loved, and this part of the ceremony didn't really impinge upon my consciousness or offend me in any way. I had been working for a couple of years, had lived away from home for one year, so I thought of myself as quite 'independent'.
Decades later, we gave away our daughter's hand in marriage too, again without much thought- it was as much a part of the ceremony as the 'Jaimala' and the 'saat pheraas', the seven steps around the sacred fire. Dealing with the logistics of a not very big, fat Indian wedding was more of a pre-occupation for us. It was only recently, when an NRI friend had written in detail on the SRE's college mail group, about Hindu wedding rituals for the sake of his American friends, that this question came up. The SRE wondered whether 'kanyadaan' as a concept had any validity today, among the urban, upper-middle class, where many girls lived away from home, often with their chosen partners, before they actually got married.
Many question the institution of marriage itself. Without venturing into such perilous terrain, I'd like to know what you, my readers, think of this entire 'kanyadaan' business. Is it valid/relevant today? If you are getting married, thinking of getting married, or are just re-examining old rituals in the context of life in the twenty-first century, where do you stand on this issue?
I personally feel that it no longer makes sense for a girl to be 'handed' over by her father to her husband. She is as capable, if not more, of taking care of herself and the people close to her, as menfolk were supposed to be. Nor is she 'property' to be handed over. Does removing this part of the marriage ritual detract from the sanctity of marriage in any way? I think not. Now tell me what YOU think.

Edited to add: Hey, you are perfectly free to disagree, people. I'm trying to see what are the different points of view on this subject.


Anonymous said...

Maybe new generation brides and grooms should hang onto meaningful rituals only and edit out parts of the ceremony like Kanyadaan which many women today may have outgrown. Its like the 'love, honour and obey' part of the Christian ceremony that doesn't quite gel with modern day sensibilities and many couples do away with it.


Choxbox said...

i'd say the idea is humiliating even in the context of 18th/19th/20th century. but then most rituals tilt heavily in favour of males and are men-centric anyway, a marriage ceremony is just a part of it all.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you a hundred percent.

In my own weddig I fought tooth abd nail against customs I thought were sexist and ridiculous....

The pundit wanted my dad to touch the Boys; and my feet as part of kanyadaan and I told him it would be over my dead body.

The concept of giving the daughter away only adds to the connotoation of the girl being some sort of a responsibility being passed from father to the husband, one man to another. And also adds to the feeling that the daughter now belongs to another family...which I feel strongly againt.

I wish people could just take vows of being true to each other and go home.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Completely.

When G and I got married, I'd put my foot down about not having kanyadaan as part of the ceremony at all long before the wedding. And we didn't.

My parents and close family understood - but mostly people were disturbed/angry/concerned/confused (in varying degrees).

Agree with Chandni - "I wish people could just take vows of being true to each other and go home."

Usha said...

Very relevant post. I think the whole marriage ritual is outdated in today's context. I was very amused when this friend's daughter had brought her American Fiance to have a Tambrahm wedding - it seemed like they were having it more for the ethnic value of it all - a bit like a theme party!
But as you rightly point out, many of these do not make sense today even when the bride and groom are from India. We need to upgrade them to be in tune with the times.
That is why I loved the mallu wedding I attended - just the bare minimum. Saluting parents, saluting all the guests and tie the mangalsutra and take 7 steps together - and it was over!

Sukhaloka said...

I totally agree!

As far as I know, the core of the Hindu marriage ritual is the 7 steps around the fire - confirming your union with Agni as witness. Am i right?
After that... the rest just becomes a cultural norm, and we're quite justified in changing that as the values and times change.

As for me, I think marriage is slowly becoming pointless as divorce gets easier and it no longer represents the commitment it used to. High time the authorities here give people living together(I'd include non-conjugal relationships) some dignity and recognition!

Sukesh Kumar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sukesh Kumar said...

It is not that something matters or not, today. And it is not that something mattered or not, yesterday. Rituals and cultures of civilization depend upon the very people living in that civilization. therefore these rituals will keep on changing(evolving) accordingly as changes in civilizations will happen.

It is not that in "Aryan culture"(ours was an Aryan culture not Hindu if we are talking baout ancient patriarchy) there was only this way of marriage. There were umpteen number of ceremonies in which marriage could be consumated. Some of those are Gandharva Vivah, vivah by a widow, vivah by a unmaaried by her choice, Vivah by Kanyadaan etc. gandhrava Vivah particularly is depeicted in tale of Dushayant-Shankutala.

Now what is my point in telling all this? The point is that it is not dominance of 'male' over 'female'. It is dominance of one culture over other(Muslim/Christian culture over Hindu(so called) culture). India has been affected by a lot of culture and going with "jatha raja tatha praja" many pieces of cultures have become extinct which some rulers deemed to be too liberal, and some new pieces have taken there place.

And if something seems as a 'humiliating ritual', then a woman is as much deserved to be blames as is any man.

Now the answer to the question "Does removing this part ..." is "No, it won't hinder the sanctity of marriage at all.
But one should consider also the point that in an urban world we live today, removing the whole marriage-ceremony will also not detract from that sanctity of marriage. Well, court marriage is not something of a sin (is it?) where one would not be able to see sanctity(so called).

Savani said...

redefining rituals in a present day context. a topic after my own heart. I did not want a Vedic ceremony. I hate the fact that Hindu wedding are so lopsided. I don't even take a vow. My husband takes the vows and out of the seven vows, I prolly identity with three. I hate lajahom (it was to avoid the Prima Nochta). In maharastrian weddings kanyadaan has two parts - giving her away to a husband and then transffering the load from brode's parents to the grooms parents (signigied by a thali of lamps that goes from one bride's parent's head to grooms parent's head). We did an abbreviated version with my parents handing me to my husband and while it was the most emotional part for me, it was also the one I despised. Go figure. i think we need to mkae our own rituals. Rituals are made for us. Not the other way round.

p.s. while Hindu vivaha sanstha outlines manyways to get married (including kidnapping of the bride as a valid way to get married), "salankrut kanyaadaan" - i.e. kanyadaan made with ornaments(read dowry) is suppsed to be one above the rest.

Indian in NZ said...

Hmmm, after reading the comments, I don't think I should give my views ;-)

Ok, you guessed right. Mine are slightly different but since you asked, here it goes..

No, I don't think that removing this ritual will hinder the sanctity of the marriage. But this ritual is a part of our culture and pretty harmless. I am all for getting rid of the rituals which end up being a burden on people. But in the end, its a individuals choice but I think we should preserve out culture and tradtions where ever possible. If you think it that way then yeah I agree that the whole ceremony is 'out of date' but thats our tradition so why not keep it. I read that post of Usha's about the mallu weddings and I was pleasantly surprised about how short and simple they are !

Vrijilesh Rai said...

I totally agree.. three fourth of the rituals we perform are outdated and so time warped. We do not even know why we go through those ceremonies..

Unknown said...

hi Dipali

started typing a comment which ended up as a post in my blog!


Itchingtowrite said...

without getting into semantics, i find the whole ritual very emotional.. i woudln't want to do away with it...while i do agree it is no longer relevant in today's context but as long as both parties getting married do not mind it , its ok. thy hav a right to choose. it is one among the many things like marriage symbols, vows... dowry (actual/ symbolic/ camoflagued as gifts). not that i am supporting dowry- dowry is the dirty word and is demanded whreas gifts are more respectful and not demanded.. but ultimately in a way the givers are supporting the newly weds by giving them a kick start for their new life- some see it as a loving gesture and accept, some see it as dowry and refuse altogether. but all depends on both parties. Moreover, in Indian contxt, wedding is not just a marriage between 2 people- it is a large function where the entire family and extended family is involved. it is not abt just the 2 gtting married, it is abt everyone else who is involvd and touching their lives in someway or the other. And if really doesn't harm anyone physically/ emotionally/ principally then I am fine with it. sorry for the long comment.

Unknown said...

The bou bhaat ritual in my husband's family includes giving of "bhaat - kapor" roughly translated this means
"clothes and food", wherein a thali is handed over to the bride by the groom containing food and a saree (and add ons ) . Thereafter , the bride serves food to the assembled guests and then eats the leftover food from the groom's thali.
Personally I found this idea most distasteful (although I have nothing against sharing food off AG's plate). What endeared him to me was he brusque way he shook off the women who insisted I go through this ritual of eating his leftovers . Regarding kanyadaan, although it would have had some relevance in the social context earlier it has no meaning now when a majority of women stand on their own feet and have command over their lives .

Parul said...

Ah, this one was a sore point with me. No kanyadaan, I said. I am not being given away. I will continue to be my parents' daughter till my dying day. Sure, sure said the families, both mine and Sai's (Mahesh's). Whatever keeps her happy and less of a bridezilla. Right, so the pundit who was to perform the arya samaji wedding was told to steer clear of any mention of a kanyadaan. There we were getting married, me playing the coy Indian bride. The time for the kanyadaan came and the pundit forgot to overlook it. Ab aap kanyadaan karenge, he said, and suddenly at least ten voices boomed out in chorus saying 'nahin, nahin, kanyadaan nahin chahiye', not one of those voices was mine, heh heh!!

Both the families must be really terrorized by me, what?

Anonymous said...

Late for the party huh?!

Anyways, here are my views.

In a South Indian non-brahmin wedding the bride's brother gives teh bride away. In the literal sense 'giving away' is offending to the modern day woman. But the way I look at it, it is as if to tell the groom and his family that this girl must be respected or else..... you have to answer to me.

We may live in 2008, where the modern day woman has come a long way, or thats what we think. But sexism is embedded in to our society and ultimately the woman does and sacrifices more than her spouse. She does it out of her own good nature and what she does must not be taken as her 'duty', but must be revered and respected for it. So the giving away ceremony tells the groom/his family and to the rest of the wolrd that we are all the support structure for this woman.

Also the sibling doing it instead of the bride's father, tells the groom and his family that even after the bride's parents are long gone, he still will be there to support the bride.

Support = emotional support. This support has nothing to do with liberation/independence. Any human being needs emotional support.

Anonymous said...

A custom only holds as much value as you choose to ascribe to it. Does the 'kanyadaan' make you any less of a responsible daughter to your parents? One may insist against it, at the risk of alienating in-laws who may prefer it to be performed, or undergo it for the sake of form rather than any belief in the ritual itself.

Regarding Malayali weddings (especially Nair weddings)- if you arrive 10 minutes late for the specified Muhurtham, you've missed the wedding- all people would have made a bee-line for the banquet hall.

Regarding the 'eating from the plate' grooms were served on- I did it at my wedding. I have never bothered with waiting for my husband of 15 years to eat before I have any breakfast/lunch/dinner, even when I'm visiting my in-laws. I'm the early bird in the family and insist on having my worms before anyone else ;)

Sue said...

Personally? I was rather annoyed that the most important part of my wedding ritual consisted of my father handing me over to my husband. As if either of them ever 'had' me to give.

It was a huge thing for my father, his daughter's wedding, and that he would take part in the pujas. But you know, my mother was the one who was sending away her companion to go find other priorities. My father was only setting up his daughter in yet another house, though of course he wouldn't see it that way.

I don't know about doing away with it because it is a little endearing and also I think it's important to remember that V had promised in front of society to take care of my material and functional needs. That my father considered me worth cherishing and bound another to continue what he had started. Because one can always look at it this way.

When I was getting married though I found it annoying and boring. :)

Thinking Cramps said...

I'm usually quite non-confrontational about these things. It's a ritual, my parents want a 'traditional' marriage ceremony, so let's just go with it. It was the path of least resistance I guess.

I do find the idea disturbing, not so much because of the actual ritual, but of the fact that it necessitates the "father's" presence. It makes it important for the woman to have a father. And these things filter back into those age-old norms of being able to name the father of your child, of having a legitimate offspring, and so on.

But on the whole, I think there are bigger issues than this. Most people insist on the entire ceremony because it's just that, a ceremony. They don't think of it as a 'giving away' of someone they have possessed. It's not (at least in my family it wasn't) about getting rid of a burden. I know in my marrage my mother in law was more relieved than my parents, because Anando had been living alone and she was glad he would have a companion to share his life. He had a maid come in daily and so was comfortable from the point of view of food and home, so it's not like he'd beeen starving and she was relieved I would feed him.

I know I would be more worried if they had double standards for Anando and me in terms of expectations, duties, limitations. And that is when non-confrontational me would decide to start fighting.

Unknown said...

Where did my comment go? But basically, my point was, if you go with ritual stick with the ritual or go get a simple registered or Arya Samaj wedding. Rituals are beautiful, even if they are archaic and one is not to bristle with umbrage at them, rather, think of them being laid down at a time when it was very relevant that the husband took care of the wife in every way, and I'd still like to think that the husband will take care of me, never mind me earning enough to fuel my shopping trips, but knowing he's around to bash up the baddies, take care of me when I am down and out, and put a roof over my head, and a meal on my table is a feeling of security that I wont fight with. *Ducking the missiles*

AA_Mom said...

Hi Dipali,
I chanced upon your blog thru the other mommy blogs I was reading and see that you have a very interesting question for your readers.

The thing that bothers me is the attitude and the thinking. The ritual is performed only once during marriage. The thought behind it stays forever with you.

I think kanyadaan doesn't make sense in these times when both the husband and wife stay away from their respective parents, supporting each other and building a life together, each takes care of the other.

And yes we will continue to be beloved and cherished daughters to our parent no matter what. I strongly believe that marriage doesn't mean giving up old relations, it is all about adding new ones, while managing the old ones.

AA_Mom said...
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Sachita said...
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Sachita said...

I think most people just go through ceremonies without giving much thought to the rituals. Of all the things that people associate marriage with, for the bride and groom - ofcourse the whole idea of partnership, for the immediate people - the nervousness of event management and also the happiness of the near one finding a dear, for the rest - simply an event to dress up and have good food, the ritual part is carried out without much thought process! Just like classical music in some south indian weddings.

Anonymous said...

Dipali, nice post and my views are in agreement with urs. I dont think the rituals make much sense in today's world. For me the result of the marriage is more important than the rituals which were a part of it. But if the ppl involved in the marriage dont mind the rituals, it shouldn't be an issue. I feel that none of it should be forced upon anyone. In most cases nowadays ppl go thru all this rituals jus like that without knowing the background of the same

Unknown said...

You are tagged :-)

Indian Home Maker said...

I find most people who supported this ritual, want it for the beauty of the ritual, quoting Usha, it's like 'having it more for the ethnic value of it all - a bit like a theme party!' more than a light hearted fun filled, meaningless fancy dress party. They don't care what the rituals mean. I feel no matter how lightly we take them, any such rituals do leave an impression. I am totally against it.
It's funny how everybody agrees it has no meaning but most people are still afraid of change...

Anonymous said...

Maybe I could think over it a little before hurrying on with a comment !! you have a perfectly valid pursuit of 'reason' and 'logistics'- I will get back to you soon with some point !

dipali said...

@d: that sound eminently sensible.
@choxbox: True. But is it important enough to change what no longer seems valid to you?
@chandni: Yes, the wedding vows as well as the blessings of family and friends are what seem most important to me.
@aanchal: a kindred spirit! Its often easier to take the path of least resistance, but it doesn't really seem right, does it?
@usha: The Mallu wedding seems to be most concise! The theme party business, or weddings as theatrical productions on a grand scale: these are really things that get my goat. Somehow they seem to detract from the sanctity of the occasion.
@suki: I'm all for marriage- with all it's pitfalls and perils, I think it's still worth it!
@sukesh kumar: I feel that whatever rite de passage one chooses to undergo, especially as a salient adult, should be meaningful to you personally, and one should not blindly go along with things merely in the name of tradition.
@2b's mom: I don't think it's always harmless- there are girls who have been raised single handedly by their mothers, but at the time of the wedding some uncle and aunt or other relatives perform this ritual, since a widow cannot take part in the ceremony.
@dotmom: what are prima nochta and lajahom? The thali of diyas symbolising the bride as a burden sounds so awful!
@vrijilesh: it's easier to do things that have always been done than think for yourself and take a stand.
@sundar: Have commented on your blog.
@itchingtowrite: Some ceremonies are beautiful and meaningful. I agree that both families are being united in this way, but I still wonder about the need to 'give' the girl away. I'd say that given that most youngsters stay on their own after marriage, or would like to if they could, then the boy should also be 'given' to the girl!
@eve'slungs: It's the compulsion to follow such rituals that one chafes against. One can voluntarily pinch anything off poor hubby's plate!
@parul: bridezilla, you're a girl after my own heart!
@utbtkids: This is interesting, the brother giving the bride away. But once again, there are girls without brothers who would feel at a disadvantage. The very fact of both the families being present indicates that there is familial support.
@sujatha: very true. I myself didn't give too much thought to the rituals at my own wedding, and gamely went along with whatever rituals were performed by my
in-laws later on. But if one allows oneself not to question a ritual that no longer seems relevant to many, one could well be accepting all kinds of iniquities in the name of tradition, including dowry.
@sue: I know, its easy for me to talk now. I would hate to hurt my parents' feelings if it were something really important to them. But as for the spouse taking care of you, it's mutual, isn't it?
And the entire crowd is there as witness. I may not support my husband financially, but I do know that there's a great deal I contribute to our lives.
@thinkingcramps: I think I'm generally non-confrontational as well, and it's easy for me to question things with many years of marriage behind me. But yes, the origins of these customs are totally patriarchal. I can see you choosing your battles wisely:)
@karmickids: Kiran, I thought I was the dinosaur here! I had an Arya Samaj wedding, and kanyadaan is part of it. And I'm not questioning the vows here at all, only the relevance of kanyadaan. Of course the spouseji will take care of me, but then I take care of him too.
@aa_mom: Nice to see you here.
'I strongly believe that marriage doesn't mean giving up old relations, it is all about adding new ones, while managing the old ones.' This is what I also believe is central to marriage.
@sachita(india): welcome to my blog! Yes, it's interesting that the actual ceremony seems to be the least important part of the whole tamaasha.
@directhit: Welcome here. There is no question of forcing anyone to do or not do something. But at least one can question things which don't seem to make sense now.
Yes, very few people want to make waves.
@mishra: waiting for your thoughts, young man!

rayshma said...

while i don't really like the entire hindu wedding saga *it's too dramatic for me*, i have no issues with the kanyadan process in the wedding.
call me old fashioned, but i don't think it had anything to do with the fact that i couldn't take care of myself. my parents & my husband knew i could! which is the whole reason i got married!

isn't marriage about being there for each other? abt taking care of each other as well? then why would i have any issue with this particular tradition which symbolizes it?

if we're talking of the whole wedding... then i'll have to do a complete post on it! :D

Anonymous said...

I don't think kanyadaan is relevant. I wonder if it's possible to make do without it though; at least in TamBram weddings it is the major part of the muhurtam (after which everyone adjourns for the food). If it had been made obsolete neither my husband nor I would have noticed. But then all we wanted was a civil ceremony, so we might be biased here.

What was rather amusing about our vadiyar was that he seemed to be all for equal opportunitties. While he was translating the mantras for our benefit (and whenever I was not bored enough to listen) I caught stern commands of Both of you enter this as equal partners and it's as much your responsibility to take are of her as much as it's hers.

Anonymous said...

I just happened to come across your blog and after reading this post, I was compelled to leave a comment. A lot of rituals (especially hindu ones - I am a hindu so I have pretty decent idea) are irrelevant in todays context. If you examine them closely, you would realize that they are more symbolic than relevant and meaningful. A lot of such rituals are oppressive on women. Having said that I do not think that Kanyadaan is sexis and I would certainly want it to be a part of my ceremony when I get married. Why? because it implies that my parents approve of the person that I am getting married to and they would whole heartedly want to see me live with him. I know that it was probably not meant to mean what I just said, but as with any ritual, its meaning lies in YOUR interpretation of it. I wouldnt marry someone my parents dont approve of. To some of you it may sound regressive. But my parents not only gave birth to me and raised me but they are the foundation upon which I stand tall and independent, they are my whole world and if they did not willingly put my hand into the hand of the man I would be living with for the rest of my life, I would never be happy? Kanyadaan is not Who giveth this woman, but Who brought this woman to this stage of life, stand up (or stretch your hand) and be recognized.

dipali said...

@Rayshma: 'Isn't marriage about being there for each other? abt taking care of each other as well? then why would i have any issue with this particular tradition which symbolizes it?'

How does kanyadaan- the specific part of the ceremony where the father of the bride puts her hand in the groom's hand- symbolise both taking care of each other?
It seems to me that the father is telling the groom that 'I've taken care of her till now, now you take care of her'. The mutual vows are part of the seven 'pheras'.

dipali said...

@chronicworrier: so often we follow things we do not believe in ourselves just to keep others happy. I like your equal opportunity vadiyar!
@kochab: In no way am I denigrating the importance of parents in a girl's or boy's life. Without their blessings, support and upbringing, where would any of us be? It is the specific act of 'giving' the girl to the groom that I am questioning. Why not also give the groom to the bride?
It would be lovely if the
groom's parents also said, 'Son, I'm giving you to this girl, so that both of you take care of each other and love each other for the rest of your lives' The son is as precious to his parents, isn't he?
They should have as important a role as well!
But unfortunately, the situation is so loaded- the groom's family usually has terribly high expectations from the bride on a far more regular basis than vice versa.

Sue said...

Dipali, I no longer get annoyed by this ritual because the woman is ritually handed over and the man is actually handed over! :)

dipali said...

@Sue: That's a good one!

the mad momma said...

oh - this one made me think and think and think. and i dont think i've gotten anywhere after all that.

to begin with - is marriage held just for ethnic value and because it looks pretty? in that case ignore the sexist issues and have it all.

but if it means anything to me... if i understand each ritual. if my eyes well up as i take each vow then perhaps it depends on the person.

and in that case - i'd personally feel offended being handed over to a man. for me it was just the beauty. i mean every bit about loving and being loyal.. the rest was just a beautiful ceremony that i didnt pay much attn to.

dipali said...

@themadmomma: At the time, I only wanted to get married to that particular person. And I wanted a simple ceremony: I used to be quite allergic to the band-baaja and general tamaasha of the baraatis dancing on the roads. (At one level I still am, but I've chilled out enough to enjoy myself in almost any situation).But my thinking at the time did not go beyond getting married and starting a new chapter of my life, though feminism was already an integral part of it.

But now I feel we should reduce the inevitable gap between our beliefs and our deeds, and not hurt our loved ones in the process either.
It is complicated, but youngsters like Aanchal, Chandni and Parul have succeeded in doing so. At least there is some recognition of a need for change.

Anonymous said...

I do not think that this all is as irrelevant as it appears when I see the reviews for this post.Well, some of us do not like all that- infact most of us do not.but trust me all the rituals that are performed have a meaning.I will quote you something.In the marriages in my part of the 'world'- the guy and girl are supposed to sit near the havan kund ( maybe that happens everywhere but I just do not know ) and the smoke that comes out,well that is seriously kills the make-up that the girl has put on after spending hours at the local beauty parlour.However,as someone wise told me,this part of the wedding was just a check on the fact whether the people who are slated to get married will hold each other in difficult times (smoky times are difficult trust me- I had similar time in my Yagyopaveet).So,if something as meagre as this can have a meaning then I presume that Kanyadaan too must have held meaning over years.I watched Memento a couple of days back and it was awesome.something that strikes chord is the dialogue- if we close eyes the world does not stop existing.If we do not know the reason or don't appreciate something that does not mean it is illogical- just that we are not spinning our heads enough.I personally do not know the logic behind kanyadaan but trust me I will find it out very soon and will let you people know-remember I am not married yet :P.

Anonymous said...

I do not like my generation on the point that it bashes anything that puts it into a region of discomfort.Without searching for reasons, they say " this is old and HENCE illogical ".Well that is not true.Reasons are ALwAYS there. Just that we do not strive enough for it.I will get back as soon as I find a reason.Promise

The Artist said...

There are lot of communities where there is no kanyadhaan...just the bride and groom taking a few steps around the agni and the guy putting the "thali" and the ceremony is over in a few minutes...

Choxbox said...

precisely what i meant dipali.

i would extend it to the charvachauth fasting business. i dont understand how a woman going hungry can help her husband in any way. and if she is expected to fast for his welfare, why isnt he doing teh same? doesnt he care for her welfare?

dipali said...

@mishra: Originally of course it had a meaning. My question is, is this particular ritual really relevant and meaningful in today's social climate, at least for the educated middle and upper middle class, where many women work, and do not get married in order to merely be fed, clothed and sheltered by their husbands.
Talk about now.
And each generation has to question old beliefs. What is set in stone?
@the artist: Yes, the Kerala Hindu wedding is one example. But where I come from, kanyadaan is the norm.
@chox:I know. Even both of them fasting a la Mr.Bacchan in Baghbaan , which was rather sweet, still doesn't make sense to me.

Unknown said...

Oh yes, I think I am really losing my marbles. Juggling too many things, or the onset of alzheimers. Have just finished tagging Moppets Mom for a tag she's already done, and I have read. I withdraw the Arya Samaj part of my comment.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Fair enough.Yes, its very relevant.
Reasons I can see:-

# From a Girl's father point of view:-Sense of responsibility does not die till the girl is married off.A sense of attachment that overrides the I-do-not-give-a-damn attitude that he had in past before having a daughter.Imagine a society where the very much asked "independence", that girls talk about these days is allowed.In such a hypothetical world, no father would probably give a damn as to whether she takes the right decisons in life ( regarding career,etiquettes etc).But because that girl is slated to be married under his banner, well he has to compulsorily take care of her and hence,in effect, girl benefits from his experience.

# From a Girl's point of view:- Marriage is not about shelter,food,clothes- though I am not a part of the married community.Its about complimenting each other.Filling up voids,I guess.And,this Kanyadan thing could be logically taken as a testimony to the fact as to how dear she is to her father-atleast logically.Remember, dumping of garbage and Daan are two different issues altogether.We give something as Daan that is dearest to us and is most beneficial to the receiver-so saying that kanyadaan is synonymous to passing girl as a commodity to husband would not be justified.

Anonymous said...

But, I seriously do not know how can I justify marriage !! Not been to that stage of life.Guess its out of my domain. Hope you will educate me on this :D

hillgrandmom said...

Came over from Eve's Lungs. Hi!
Well about Kanya daan, I know the daughter is not property of anyone any more, but I think it's a beautiful ceremony in the sense that Dad is in effect saying ' Here's this woman(girl to me) who I love. I'm placing her hand in yours, hoping you will love her and take care of her like I do'. Incidentally, it is still there in traditional Western Christian church ceremonies too.

dipali said...

@Kiran: It's akay- at least you had the marbles to lose in the first place.
@mishra: Finally I get your opinion!.
@hillgrandmom: Hi and welcome. Yes, it is undoubtedly a beautiful part of the ceremony, but it does seem anachronistic in this modern world of ours. Several years ago I remember reading about Christian marriages in the West where the word 'obey' was dropped from the vows. I think the Mad Momma has expressed it beautifully in her comment here:
"to begin with - is marriage held just for ethnic value and because it looks pretty? in that case ignore the sexist issues and have it all.

but if it means anything to me... if i understand each ritual. if my eyes well up as i take each vow then perhaps it depends on the person.

and in that case - i'd personally feel offended being handed over to a man. for me it was just the beauty. i mean every bit about loving and being loyal.. the rest was just a beautiful ceremony that i didnt pay much attn to."

rayshma said...

i guess am a little late here...

i think my in-laws told the priest at my wedding to alter things a bit! so probably, i shouldn't have commented without knowing the actual meaning... but in my defense, i thought it was that way... :O

during my wedding, we did not have my dad touch Vin's feet or anything of the sort. it was a general ritual where my father placed my hand in vin's, with his parents behind us, as witnesses; symbolizing - "take care of her like i did, or better"
knowing my dad, if he were allowed to say, he'd probably have said "don't u dare hurt her ever. or u have me to answer to!"
i really found it sweet and before i read thru the comments here, i hadn't thought of it in any other way. i guess i need to read up more on it now, though! u've made me think deeper about it...

dipali said...

@Rayshma: Good to have you back! The idea is to discuss issues, maybe confuse ourselves some more, and then perhaps reach a slightly higher level of knowledge and understanding:)
Do read my latest post on this and related issues.

Lavs said...

What an interesting post!! And such diverse, thought provoking comments which ignites one’s mind and forces it to think beyond mundane stuff.

I share my knowledge here with you through this comment. I had a traditional tamil Brahmin wedding. The Kanyadhaan ritual in tambram wedding is interpretated as follows—Bride belonging to one ‘gothram’[the ancestral line after one celestial rishi] is handed over to her husband’s gothram signifying her transition from one gothram to another.

Why should this be done??? As per vedic rituals, all ceremonies pertaining to the daughter till Kanyadhan will be done by her father/mother. After this ceremony, it will be done by her husband. Why have the male been given this power over woman-that only they should do the rituals??

Because Vedas recognize the fact that man does not lift his finger until something is shoved down their throats. This is the way to tell man that he has some responsibilities and he better do it well. There is a catch in this which many people are not aware of. Unless a man’s wife approves [she gives her consent by pouring water over her husband’s hands], a man cannot conduct homams or offer anything to Lord Agni. If you notice, there are no rituals done by unmarried man. Unmarried man has no significance in Vedas/rituals till he chooses ‘Grihastham’ [married life] or ‘Sanyasam’ [sadhu life].

What is the significance of this change of Gothrams? Why are people reluctant to get their kids married within the same gothram?? It’s their wise way of saying- do not do marriages within relations as the probability of diseases inherited from the same strain of chromosome is more. And no where in Vedas, woman is degraded. Everywhere, Vedas emphases equal responsibilities for man and woman. It’s similar to two cows tied to a yoke for ploughing fields. Even if one cow walks slowly or not in sync with the other, the field will not get ploughed well. Marriage is compared to this and man and woman are advised to walk in sync with their thoughts/feelings/actions so that their life is ploughed well to reap benefits. The mangalsutra is kept on a stick signifying this yoke before the boy ties it around the girl’s neck.

I do not know from where the boy’s parents/relatives gained importance in marriages. Coz as per vedic rituals, boy’s parents have no work whatsoever. They are not considered important enough to be included in. They are there only to shower blessings on the couple. During the saath pheras, as per tambram rituals, a man falls at his wife’s feet signifying that he is at her mercy and helps his wife wear toe rings. The seven steps around the fire signify seven different vows. Point to be noted here is at these vows are common for man and woman. No where in Vedas, it says man has to take care of his wife. Vedas only ask husband to care for his wife in times of need and wife to care for her husband in times of need. God only knows how this got interpretated as male dominance.

I also found during my marriage that age old rituals have their own sweet significance. Bride and groom are offered sliced bananas dipped in milk at regular intervals- so that they do not go hungry. Siblings of bride and groom are included in certain rituals so that they do not feel left out. I did not find any of the rituals sexist or demeaning. But yes, if one does not have the knowledge about the purpose behind these rituals, it may appear sexist. Instead of blindly following rituals, if one takes pain to understand their meaning, then the purpose is solved. My wedding was a two day long action packed event and I am willing to do anything to do it all over again.