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.