Sunday, 29 July 2012

How marriages happen - Jain Community

Jainism is one of the oldest religions of world. Jainism became prominent religion in India at the time of Mahavira .Jainism does not believe in God as the creator of universe.

Marriage is largely a worldly event. It is recommended to all Jain Shravakas (unless they have taken a vrata of Brahmacharya) because the children born of marriage will follow the dharma. The ritual of Jain Wedding is largely governed by the traditional practices that may vary for different Jain communities.

Jain culture believes in peaceful coexistence and mutual dependence through interaction between individuals marriage is considered to be a worldly affair. The typical Jain marriage consists of certain simple rituals and they criticize the practice of dowry. Marriage to the Jains is a declaration by the couple that they desire to be together for a lifetime. According to them, marriage should be grand but there shouldn't be any wastage of time or money.

Like many other communities, Jains also prefer to get their sons and daughters married within the community so that the children thus produced would follow the same dharma. So they look for a boy or a girl within their community through word-of-mouth or through newspaper or online Jain matrimony websites. Once the alliance is fixed a number of premarital ceremonies are conducted during the months of the engagement period like  
Laghana lekhen:
This ceremony is conducted at the girls house during which the family gathers for a small pooja and the astrologer decides the auspicious day for the wedding and writes down a lagna patrika describing the time and date of the marriage and the same is sent to the grooms house.
Sagai is the proper engagement function that takes place generally at the groom’s house where the lagna  patrika received from the bride's house is read out(this is called as Lagna Patrika Vachan )  and the wedding is formally announced.

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Sunday, 27 May 2012

How Marriages Happen - Naidu

Naidu marriage is a rich and elaborate affair and is spread over days. The wedding itself is tirade of spirituality and Holiness. Though there might be slight regional variations in the ceremonies, Naidu marriages have one thing in common and that is the high regards they have for the sacrament of the wedding.  
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Saturday, 19 May 2012

How Marriages Happen - Buddhist Wedding Ceremonies

If a man can find a suitable wife and a man can find a suitable and understanding wife both are fortunate indeed.” those are the words of Buddha, the founder of Buddhism.

The Buddhist views on wedding are very liberal. In Buddhism, marriage is considered as a personal affair and  not as a religious duty or sacramental. Buddhism does not compel a person to be married or to lead a life of total chastity. Buddhism allows each individual the freedom to decide for himself or herself all the issues pertaining to marriage. Hence forth there is no set rules pertaining to the ceremonies and rituals carried out during a Buddhist Marriage.

Since Buddhism is spread all over the world, the rituals during the ceremony generally depends on the local People and their culture.In China, firstly a civil ceremony is completed, then a proper wedding is done with Buddhist rituals.On the evening before the wedding day there is a party held involving all the friends and family except for the bride to be, as she is not supposed to see the groom before the wedding day. On this day the grooms family brings a roast pig to the brides family as a gift. At the brides house, the pig is cut into three equal parts and the middle part is sent back to grooms house with lots of fruits as a tradition.After cutting the pig a tea party is held at both the groom and the brides house where the bride and groom get the blessings of the elders in the family. During this tea party the groom and bride receive small red packets containing money or jewellery as gifts. On wedding day the groom goes to the brides house where the bridesmaid tease him with tricky questions.The groom answers the questions and give red packets with money to the bridesmaid and only then he is allowed to take the bride to the wedding. The wedding ceremony takes place in an altar or the grooms house itself before a Buddha shrine. The couple kneel before the shrine and their parents serve them tea. After the tea ceremony the couples are blessed by all family and friends. On the wedding night the couple spend the night at the grooms house where the bed is specially made with new linen. The bride and groom are made to stand on each side of the bed and a small boy is made to jump on the bed. This is believed to bring children in the family. Three days after the wedding the bride visits her parents house and exchange gifts.

Sri Lankan Buddhist Weddings are influenced by the Hindu culture. The Srilankan Buddhist wedding is done in prominence to ‘Nekath’, the auspicious times.”Nekath” is derived using the birth date of the bride and groom. Poruwa is a beautifully decorated wooden stage where the wedding cermony Siritha, is conducted hence the wedding is termed as Poruwa Siritha. The bridegroom and his family and the bride and her family are made to assemble on left and right of the Poruwa.The couple enter the Poruwa with their right foot and hold each others hands. Shilpadhipathi (master of ceremonies) presents a hand of betel leaves to the couple, which they accept and hand back to him to be placed on a height of the Poruwa.This symbolises the offering of betel to gods.The bride's father places the right hand of the bride in the groom’s hand  as a symbolic gesture of handing over the bride to the bridegroom.The groom's brother hands a tray to the groom with seven sheaves of betel leaves with a coin placed in each. The groom holds the tray while the bride takes one sheaf at a time and drops it on the Poruwa. The groom repeats this process. This is a custom carried out to remember seven generations of relatives on each side. Then the  bride's maternal uncle, ties the small fingers of the bride and groom with a gold thread and then pours water over the fingers. This
indicates that the water that falls on the ground shall remain there as a witness to the wedding. Then the groom presents a white cloth to the brides mother as a token of love and gratitude for bringing up his wife. Then the grooms mothers gives away a Saree as a parting gift to the bride who hands that over to her mother. Then the bride and groom are made to feed each other some milk rice and kavum a special food. Then the couple step down from the Poruwa and Shilpathi breaks a coconut and the couple light up a brass oil lamp to signify their resolve to keep the home fires burning.

In India horoscope matching plays a vital role in arranging a marriage. Kika, Buddhist astrology decides the date and even the colour of the wedding attire for the bride and groom. Once  the horoscopes of the boy and girl are matched the boy’s family, in consultation with the lama, the priest or Monk, fixes up an auspicious date for the engagement which is the Chessian betrothal ceremony. In some regions the engagement ceremony is called Nangchang. During this ceremony the maternal uncle of the bride is seated on a raised wooden platform and the priest recites prayers and gives a holy drink called Madyan to everybody to drink. Then a date is fixed for the wedding after consulting the astrologer. The Buddhist marriage is held at a temple, both the bride and groom dress in beautiful sarongs and jewellery. Hot colours like red and gold are preferred for the occasion. During the ceremony the bride and groom must recite in turn, the vows that are prescribed for each of them in the Sigilovdda Sutta (Digha Nikilya).Vow for the groom: "Towards my wife I undertake to love and respect her, be kind and considerate, be faithful, delegate domestic management, provide gifts to please her." Vow for the bride: "Towards my husband I undertake to perform my household duties efficiently, be hospitable to my in-laws and friends of my husband, be faithful, protect and invest our earnings, discharge my responsibilities lovingly and conscientiously."At the end, the parents and the assembly would recite the Mangala Sutta and Jayamangala Gatha to offer their blessings for the couple.  After this, the couple makes offering to the monks such as flowers, food, sweets and medicines. At times, token money is also given to the temple. As for the Vidaai (girl's leaving maiden house for husband's house) ceremony, it is quite common for the newly wed couple to opt to stay at the girl's house. They could also decide to stay separately from either family.The girl's departure from her paternal house is also selected from the kika. This day could be any day between the first day after marriage till the tenth day.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

How Marriages Happen – Hindu Kayastha Community

Kayastha Community is also known as Kayast, who hail from North Indian States. They are part of Bengali community and are known to be the worshipers of Chitragupta. There is also a belief that Kayastha is a class of Kshatriya. In the early days, marriages in Kayastha community happened predominantly within their specific sub-castes. The people belonging to same sub-lineage could not intermarry, whereas those belonging to the same caste and different sub lineage could marry.

As in most of the Indian communities, the marriages are arranged by the parents. Once the marriage is fixed, Bariksha is celebrated as a confirmation for the alliance, in which the bride’s people send a silver bowl full of rice, turmeric and betel nut to the groom’s house along with an envelope containing some cash.

Sagai is the formal engagement in which the groom’s family members come to the bride’s house with gifts like clothes, jewelry and the engagement ring for the bride. The groom’s mother places the gift items in the bride’s sari and applies Tilak on her forehead.

Haldi will takes place separately for both bride and groom in their respective houses.This is a ritual which signify the purification of the bride’s/groom’s mind, body and soul before entering the path of marriage. The older women of the family apply oil on the bride/groom face, arms and legs.

As part of the ceremony Tilak, the bride’s relatives go to the groom’s house with clothes, jewelry, gifts, fruits, sweetmeats and the tilak made of rice and vermilion. These gift items are placed in front of the family deity and the bride’s family members bless the groom by applying the tilak on his forehead.

One of the most familiar event is Mehendi, in which professional mehendi artist makes beautiful designs on the hands and feet of the bride using henna paste. In Uttar Pradesh Kayasth community even the groom’s hands are decorated with henna designs. It is celebrated with joy by both the family members by singing and dancing.
In the event Baraat, the bride’s maternal uncle visits her house with saris, jewelry and other gift items. This is to show symbolically his support to his sister in her family celebrations. The groom gets ready for the wedding processionwith Achkan, a long jacket. He also wears a turban and a kalgi. A sword or dagger is tucked in his waistband. Before he leaves for the wedding venue all his family members apply tilak on his forehead.
At the entrance of the wedding venue, groom is given a warm reception by the bride’s family. The bride is escorted by the female relatives and friends to the wedding hall. Before stepping into the Mantap,  the bride and groom exchange garlands. This ritual, known as Jaimala, signifies their acceptance of each other as life partner.

The priest/ Pujari facilitates the wedding rituals. He lights up the sacred fire in the midst of chanting of Vedic mantras. All the auspicious wedding rituals are held in front of the Holy fire. The parents of the bride and groom offer prayers to Lord Ganesha and other deities, so that the couple can fulfill the aims of life.

In the Kanyadhan ceremony, the bride, groom and the bride’s parents stand in front of the fire. At this moment the bride’s father asks the groom whether he is prepared to accept his daughter as his wife and whether he will discharge the duties of a responsible husband. The groom accepts and the parents give away their daughter to him by chanting the names of the fathers and forefathers of both families. The bride and groom takes a promise infront of the fire and take their seven wedding vows when they go around the holy fire seven times. The Pujari continues with recital of the mantras all through the pheras.

The most emotional ceremony is the Bidaai or the bridal send off. This is filled with emotionally charged moments when the bride bids farewell to her family and friends. She begins her journey to the new house in a decorated car along with her newly wed husband and her brother.

At the entrance of her new house, the bride’s mother-in-law receives her by performing the traditional Aarathy and leads her to the family Puja/prayer room where she is seated in front of family deity. During this event the relatives come and get acquainted with the bride and give gifts.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

How Marriages Happen – Hindu Chettiar Community

Chettiar community originated from South India and are also known familiarly as Chetty. It is usually a trading and Agriculture social groups. They belong to Vaishya clans of the Hindu Varna system. Chettiar is the 3rd dominant clan and surname by majority in Tamil Nadu.

In earlier days,marriage alliances among Tamil Chettiars were fixed within close relatives and weddings among first cousins were very common. In fact the first choice for an eligible bachelor would be either his sister’s or maternal uncle’s daughter. Even today,though almost all stay away from their village, they prefer to have their son/daughter's marriage in their native village.

Chettiar marriage ceremony is a long drawn procedure with various rituals, customs which is normally six days affair. Seer is common in chettiar community. It is facilitated by so called middle man ‘Tharagar’. Through this middle man the bride’s party informs the groom’s people how much gifts or ‘seer’ they are prepared to give to their daughter for her wedding.

Like for any Tamil wedding, Nichayadartham or Engagement would be the first pre wedding ceremony.When the groom’s party agrees for the wedding, ‘Nichayadartham’ is planned and held in the bride’s house. Two copies of the engagement agreement are written by a ‘pujari’/priest and these are exchanged between the two families. To make the sacred ‘mangalasutra’ known as ‘taali’ in Tamil, the groom’s parents give a part of the gold to the bride’s parents. After due consultation with priest an auspicious date for the wedding will also be agreed on the day.

Immediately next to engagement is fixing the ‘muhurthakal’ for the wedding ‘pandal’. The person who will build the ‘pandal’ applies turmeric paste and red earth on a bamboo stick and ties a bunch of mango leaves on its top. Small cups with pulses are placed in front of the pole and they are allowed to germinate.

After erecting Muhurthakal,many rituals will happen such as ‘Padaipu’, also known as ‘koodai aaki unnuthal’ in which ancestors are honored by offering cooked food. Next is  ‘Manai Poduthal’ is building the brick platform for the couple to sit on during various wedding rituals. Following is ‘Arasanikkal’, a decorated bamboo stick erected by the relatives in front of the wedding platform at the bride’s residence.

‘Mattru Kattuthal’ is creating a cloth ceiling to cover the top of the wedding platform. Ladies from both families decorate the houses with colorful designs known as ‘kolam’ made of rice flour. Members from groom’s family along with auspicious gifts come to the bride’s place to receive the sacred ‘mangalasutra/taali’. Meanwhile the groom’s maternal uncle adorns his toes with silver rings called ‘minji’.

During the wedding day, early morning the bride, after bath, is decorated with gold chains and neem leaves are kept on her head, waist, shoulders and feet. The bride takes a second bath known as ‘Kanni Neeradal” or virgin bath after the ‘Vinayaka Puja’ conducted by the ‘pujari’. This ritual is known as ‘Pooram Kazhithal.

The traditional ‘Azhagu Arathy’ is performed for the groom by his paternal grandmother just before he leaves for the bride’s house. She applies sacred ash on his forehead and bids him farewell.The groom’s procession, accompanied by the playing of the ‘nadeswaram’, is taken to a ‘Ganesh Temple’ for prayer before proceeding to the wedding venue. The bride, accompanied by her paternal aunt, walks upto the groom while her brothers shower flowers on her. She stands on a ‘kolam’ and her paternal grandmother/aunt performs the customary ‘arathy’ for her. The bride looks dazzling in a gorgeous Kanjeepuram sari as a traditional wear. The bridegroom’s dress includes a traditional white dhoti and a shirt.

The ‘pujari’ performs ‘Ganesh Puja’ for the bride and groom separately. Then the maternal uncles of the bride and groom tie bracelets known as ‘kappus’ containing a silver coin and a turmeric piece on a red cloth on their right wrists while the elders shower flowers on them. They receive blessings from the family members and friends .

Now the auspicious ‘mangalasutra/taali’ is brought in a plate and the elders bless it. The bride stands on the platform facing east while the groom stands in front of her. He then puts the garland around her neck. He receives the ‘taali’ from an elder member of the family and ties the first two knots and his sister the third one around the bride’s neck. The couple exchanging garlands three times and the blessings of the elders. The bride and the groom make seven circles around the holy fire with the priest chanting marriage rites.

After this,the fathers of the newly weds sit in the hall to sign the marriage agreement called ‘Isaivu pidimanam’ made by the priest and the marriage gets its recognition. The bride is given a ceremonial welcome into her husband’s house either by his sister or mother. For this, seven cups containing turmeric, sacred ash, rice, salt, cotton, fruits, betel leaves and tamarind are placed on a platter. The bride stands facing east and the mother or sister touches the cups seven times and applies the sacred ash on her forehead and next on the bride. Repeating this for twenty one times, she gives a betel leaf to the bride and pours water on it. The bride on her part washes her mother-in-law’s feet known as ‘padapuja’, followed by some traditional rituals in the groom’s house, to mention a few, the turmeric bath for the couple, ‘Kulam Vazhum Pillai’, i.e. the bride is entrusted with the household duties and ‘Thumbu Kattudal’-tying of the matrimonial thread around the bride’s neck etc..

After all the functions, bride’s family hosts a feast known as ‘kaichi uttrudal’ for the groom’s people. To conclude, the bride’s father removes the ‘arasanikkal’ and immerses the sprouted grains covered with a silk cloth in a nearby tank or lake.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

How Marriages Happen – Hindu Nair Community

Nair community in Hindu religion is a predominant community in Kerala. Historically they possessed unique and rich cultural and social traditions. Some people use suffix to their names as “Nairs”. Others suffix other titles like Menon, Pillai, Nambiar, Kartha, Kurup, Kaimal, Nambidi, Mannadiyar, Unnithan , Panicker, Thampi and so on depending upon the occupations they were engaged in the traditional society.
Malyalee Nair weddings are predominantly simple and brief. It has few rituals and far lesser religious compulsions. A traditional Nair wedding is conducted in a nearby temple or Kalyana Mandap or even at the Guruvayoor temple.The Malayalee month Chingam is considered to be the most auspicious month to conduct malayalee weddings.
The parents of the respective bride and groom first check out the horoscopes for compatibility and this is a mandatory task not to be taken lightly. Once the horoscopes are checked out and they match well, the next task of selecting the wedding date or the muhurtham is done and then goes on the wedding ceremony with the advice given by the family astrologer.
‘Nichayam’ or the engagement ceremony is the first Pre wedding ritual.This ceremony is to announce, and share the confirmation of marriage. Gifts are exchanged between the families. Some traditional families do not encourage the presence of boy and girl during the nischayam ceremony.The groom is usually gifted by the bride’s family with a diamond ring to signify the engagement.The groom’s family provides the bride with a diamond engagement ring and gold ornaments and silk sari.
Next is ‘Ayana’ or traditional feast,it is a huge gathering of friends and relatives who have arrived from different parts of the country in advance to participate in this happy occasion. The bride is asked to participate in a five-course vegetarian meal along with her family and friends who have come to share in her joy.
Malayalee Nair Marriages are conducted either in the temple or in the Kalyana Mantapa of the wedding hall.The most preferred place  to conduct malayalee weddings is the ancestral house of the bride. These days it is common to select a venue that is convenient and suitable for both the families.
Regarding the costumes,Bride’s friends help her in dressing up for the big occasion. She is garnished with flowers, wears traditional two-piece sari known as Mundu and a line of gold necklaces adorn her neck, gold bangles with beautiful design fill her hands, gold rings adorn her fingers. The Bridegroom is dressed up in traditional dhoti and angavastram. Gold chain, gold bracelets and rings complete his attire. Elders and close friends accompany the bridegroom to the wedding venue.
‘Madhuparkam’ is the the first ritual to welcome the groom’s family by the bride family. As part of the ritual, the bride's brother or father welcomes the bridegroom and honors him by washing his feet as he arrives at the venue. The groom in turn hands over to his father-in-law an off white color sari with zari border,that has to be worn by the bride for the nuptials.Once the bride is dressed in the nuptial attire provided by the groom,young girls carry 'deepams' in their hand and lead the couple to the mantap.
Next is the ‘Veli’ or nuptial ceremony, it is the most sacred ceremony, it the final culmination of bringing together two people in holy matrimony. The family priest is called upon to lead the couple in offering prayers while vedic mantras are chanted throughout the ritual. The couple walks around thrice after which the groom ties the 'Mangalsutra' or 'Thali' around the neck of the bride. They exchange garlands. People present at the venue shower flowers and bless the couple. Friends and relatives extend their best wishes and present gifts.
Immediately there after, the kanyadaanam or penkoda ceremony takes place. The bride's father gives her hand and places it on the groom's hand symbolically transferring his responsibility to the bridegroom. A typical meal in Kerala known as ‘sadya’, which consists of 25 items, is served on plantain leaves. Rice, varieties of pickle, curries and sweets, Avial, toran, olan, kalam, pacchari, payasam, pappads and finally the desert paladaaprathaman or chaka prathaman, form part of the elaborate meal.
Next is ‘Grihapravesh’, the post wedding ceremony. At an auspicious time, the bride proceeds to her new home and takes the blessings of her parents and all elders present at the venue. As she reaches her new house, the women take 'Arathy' to cast off evil eye. The bride holds a traditional lamp in her hand and is asked to enter the house with her right foot. The entire house is bright with lamps lit all over the house, considered to be a good omen as the couple starts their life together. This ceremony is called 'kudivep'.

Friday, 2 September 2011

How Marriages Happen – Hindu Maratha Community

Maratha community people are living mainly in Maharashtra state, western India. The Marathas are mostly farmers, and practise Hinduism.  Among the many regional communities living in India, Maharashtrians perhaps have the simplest marriage ceremony but performed with a lot of gaiety and enthusiasm. The Maharashtrian Wedding Rituals follows the typical Hindu wedding rituals.
Matchmaking in Maratha community is done within the community only. Once a girl or a boy becomes eligible for marriage, the parents start looking for the right choice among the people they know. The parents use marriage bureaus and matrimonial services to give advertisements for wide selection procedure. Horoscope plays a major role in deciding the match between the bride and groom. The stars should match in order to proceed further in the process.
Maharashtrian Weddings are performed in proper traditional way and all the rituals are performed by a priest. Each stage the wedding rituals are more of a homely affair than a stormy show.
Marathi bridal costume is very unique. The Maharashtrians believe that green is the auspicious color. So, the bride usually wear a green saree during the wedding ceremony. Also green glass bangles are worn by the bride.
As pre wedding rituals include Wang Nischay, Mahurat, Bangdi Bharan and Mehendi. Wang Nischay is the formal engagement ceremony. Bangdi Bharan is a unique ritual to maharastrian, where the bangle seller is called to the bride’s home and he is offered edible leaves, a coconut and a coin. Though Mehendi is not a traditional maharastrian event it is becoming a part of the rituals now a days.
A day before the actual wedding, it is essential for the bride and groom to take sandal and turmeric bath individually at their houses.Turmeric is a very positive ingredient and it acts as a kind of beautifying and purifying process. In case, the muhurta is at the evening, then this will takes place  in the morning of the actual wedding day.
When the wedding day approaches, the following rituals are performed viz., Ganesh Puja, Seeman Puja and Gowrihar Puja. Seeman Pooja is a very traditional practice in which the girl's parents welcoming the groom. As part of this even the bride's father and mother wash the feet of the groom. At this point, the bride's family may present the groom the gifts like the ring, watch, gold chain, etc.
Gouri-Har pooja is performed by the bride as the groom has his meal as a part of the Rukhvat ceremony. The bride worships the goddess Gauri.
Antarpaat ceremony is performed to separate the bride and groom until the actual moment of their marriage. The antarpaat served as a final curtain before they were revealed to each other.The bride and groom hold a garland, which they continue to hold throughout the ceremony. At the end of this ceremony the bride and groom exchange garlands. A traditional Marathi wedding involves the tying of the mangalasutra, the sacred necklace around the bride’s neck by the groom. The wedding rituals end up with the Karmasamapti, the concluding ceremony. This is also followed by the akshata, where rice grains mixed with a little kumkum is sprinkled on the newly weds along with some specific mantras. The wedding is completed with an arathy.
Post wedding, a grand feast and reception takes place where the new couple serve sweets to the guests. Grihapravesh is a general hindu ritual in many communities which is followed by maratha community as welll. It involves to bring the newly wed to their new home where  the mother of the groom welcomes them on the threshold of the house and washes their feet with water and milk followed by an Aarti.