Hindu Wedding Sans Rituals
Marriage of two individuals in the Hindu society is quite a pious occasion. As per the custom the vows of the marriage are taken by the couple in the open, under the canopy of the stars. The sanctity of the occasion can be realized from the fact that in Kumaoni weddings the just married couple are made to sit together on a bed and worshipped. It is believed that they are equal to the gods at that time.
A wedding used to be a great festive occasion in the days of the yore. Indeed it still is though it has become more of an event which has pushed the Vedic rituals in the background and brought the vulgar display of wealth and fashion to the forefront.
The ceremonies used to start at least five days before the wedding and used to continue for another two days after the arrival of the bride. The guests used to arrive much before the ceremonies took off. The host family made arrangements for a comfortable stay of the guests and a 'halwai' was especially engaged to cook delicious meals and also variety of snacks and sweets for the horde of guests and visitors.
There were elders who knew by heart the minutest details of the ceremonies, attire of the bride and the bride groom and even the particular food to be cooked on a particular day. Food grains, cooking materials, condiments etc were hoarded by the grannies from the day the topic of the wedding of a grand son or daughter was broached in the family. But those were the days when the life was easy and slow.
The contemporary weddings compared to the past are super-fast, maximum one day affair. The ceremonies, the attire of the bridegroom and the food all have been zapped up. Call it a cultural invasion the traditional Dhoti and Kurta have been replaced by pant, shirts and designed three piece suits. Dressing up for the 'barat' (marriage party) has become quite an elaborate and expensive affair. For the groom it is lifetime event, but for the baratis is a routine yet they dress up as if preparing for a fashion show. Earlier the barats were all men's domain now with equalities of gender in mind one can see the heavy pallus of Kanjivaram saris, backless cholis of women to Armani suits and Bundgalas of men. Alas the traditional dhoti and kurta are relegated to the priests who solemnize the wedding.
As per the Karmakand the boy qualifies to be a groom only if he has undergone the 'yagyopavit sanskar' (Thread ceremony). Normally the thread ceremony used to be solemnized at a tender age of seven or nine. School's homework, peer pressures and parents' commitments to their jobs leave hardly any time for a sanskar that was supposed to be the passport for the wedding.
The traditional thread ceremony used to be almost a mock wedding minus the bride. The boy with a shaven head and pierced ears (yes, we had started piercing ears of our boys much before the so called mod guys of the society had even thought about it!) had to undergo the ritual for three days. Now the jet setters barely get three days for the wedding including the honeymoon!
Priorities have changed. The rituals are followed merely to satisfy the whims of the aged parents or in order to show off the friends from across the seas the 'elaborate' and traditional weddings we have. Therefore the thread ceremony etc has become merely symbolic.
The wedding procession after lots of knee jerking dances on the beats of loud jarring music, with added cacophony of 'Dholes' (Drums), winds its way to the bride's place. One can observe the younger members of the barat shuttling between the circle of baratis in front, where a virtual dance competition is on, to the cars in the rear, the boots of which are stacked up with choicest liquors, sodas, ice and of course the snacks as well.
Dwarachar, that is welcome of the groom at the bride's door, was a ceremony when the pundits of the two sides competed with each other in announcing the pedigree of the forefathers in chaste Sanskrit. Blood lines, social status and of course the horoscopes were considered as the criteria for arranging the marriage. These are still the criteria today, but more for rejecting the girls. Horoscopes become horror-scopes for some of the poor daughters.
Baratis both with high spirits and high on spirits reach the bride's place which is decorated like a fairyland. Loud music, chairs arranged like a classroom, a wooden stage with rickety steps all covered with thick carpets is the hallmark of the place. So loud is the music that throats turn hoarse. Who can hear the genealogy, in this cacophony if at all being announced by the Pundits!
Suddenly there is lots of flutter around and from the positioning of video-cameras one can make out that the bride is about to reach the dais.
There she walks in, in a slow motion, decked up to the core, with a make up so heavy that it becomes difficult to make out if she is a human or a humanoid! Accompanied by her mother and near ones all in the heaviest silks, covered with jewellery from head to toe, the bride reaches the groom. The ritual of Jaymala makes one feel a re-enactment of yesterday's episode of the TV serial. The huge, garish chairs, perhaps replica of 'sinhasans' seem to swallow the bride and groom! The family members of both sides make a bee line for the memorable photographs. Wonder how our parents of grandparents got married when there were no cameras around! The local guests of both the sides are now in a hurry, they jostle to reach to be wed pair, push envelop of the gift into the bride's hand and make a dash for the venue of dinner.
After about 45 minutes the place has only empty, used plates and a few sizzled baratis.
The bride and groom after dinner are whisked off to the room where the wedding is to be solemnized. Traditionally the bride's pundit used to announce the genealogy of her family once again and after invoking the gods he used to guide the father to give the hand of his beloved daughter to the illustrious groom. This was done as per a pre-decided 'lagna' or 'muhurt'. Alas the modern wedding procession devotes more time in the vulgar display of booze and dance on the road and 'muhurt' if any is lost in the cacophony.
By the time the couple takes oaths around the fire and performs the 'havan' majority of the baratis and even near one of the bride is too tired to remain awake. The newly wed have to remain awake, maintain a brave front and prepare for the journey of the life.
More by :
V. K. Joshi (Bijji)
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||Good work Dr. Joshi, I enjoyed reading this article on Hindu weddings.||