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Hindu wedding ceremony Essay

With reference to a Hindu wedding ceremony, describe and explain the many points of symbolism.

Ritual is very important within the Hindu religion. If ritual is performed correctly, good karma will follow and if not, the opposite will occur. There are whole books dedicated to ritual such as the Veda, the oldest scripture in the world. Key factors in making the right match include the partner being Hindu, also preferably from the same caste and compatible horoscopically. Also, the horoscopes show what the best date for the wedding to take place is.

Although India is a large country and weddings vary, most key points are shared. In India the wedding itself would be at the bride’s home but in England a hall is booked. In preparation for the wedding, henna is used to decorate her hands and feet lasting many weeks symbolising her entry into her marriage. A red spot is painted called a ’tilaka’ showing she has been blessed by god. She is wearing a red sari, the colour of happiness, with gold jewellery, the best she can afford and black paint around her eyes called kajal. The groom gives her a ring that she wears on her toe. The groom will wear a kurta-pajana; a lose fitting top and trousers and a veil of beads. The bride and groom’s parents will worship Ganesh and the family deities asking them to be present at the wedding and make sure everything goes to plan.

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Throughout the ceremony itself the priest keeps a fire burning by pouring ghee into the flames symbolising the presence of the Gods. He also throws rice and spices into the fire symbolising fertility. The bride offers puja to the deities and then goes into a separate room to offer private worship to Parvati and Shiva asking for a long marriage and children, preferably sons. When the groom arrives at the place of the wedding, the bride’s mother and the priest meet him at the entrance with a ‘sacred light’ to ward off any evil spirits. The priest prays to Vishnu and Lakshmi and together, the priest and bride’s mother lead the groom into the place of the wedding. The bride’s dad then gives him honey symbolising a sweet welcome and the priest recites a mantra from the Yajur-Veda. The bride’s family ‘give her away’ to the groom’s family.

This can be compared to the Christian Wedding in which the bride’s father gives her way to the groom, the difference being, Hindu weddings are not just about the people getting married, but also each of their families who are as much involved. The bride and groom stand facing each other while the priest ties cloth around groom’s neck and attaches it to bride’s sari representing unity. Then blessings are sung and the guests shower rice over the couple. The father of the bride then places her right hand into the palm of the groom. The father then asks the groom to follow his dharma -religious duty, artha -earning money in an honest manner and karma -the enjoyment of pleasures, with moderation. The groom says to the bride ‘I hold your hand in the spirit of the dharma we are both husband and wife’.

The wife then steps onto a stone. This symbolises her decision to try to get though all problems they may come across throughout their marriage. Then the couple takes seven steps around the sacred fire (saptapadi); this is essential according to the Law Code of Manu. Each step represents a different thing: food, power, prosperity, wisdom, children, health and friendship. While taking these steps the husband says to the wife ‘With utmost love to each other may we walk together…May we make our minds united, of the same vows and of the same thoughts. I am the wind and you are the melody. I am the melody and you are the words’ and on the last step the couple say in unison ‘Into my will I take thy heart. Thy heart shall follow mine. And the heart of mine be yours’.

The bride’s bothers pour barley into the couples’ hands that are then poured into the scared fire symbolising the fact that they will work together for the benefit of society. The husband then marks his wife’s parting with red kum-kum powder. -This is the sign of a married woman. The groom places a black necklace called a mangalsutra around the bride’s neck representing the union between the two families. Also, black beads are used to ward off evil spirits. If the wedding is in daytime the couple will look at the sun to be blessed, if it is night-time they will look at the Polestar, asking that their love will shine as bright and last as long. Elders and the priest ending the ceremony then bless the couple and the guests then take part in a huge feast.

When the wife enters her husband’s house for the first time she must kick over a metal pot of grain into the house symbolising prosperity. Finally, the bride is given a new first name showing her new beginning.

1) ii) In a Hindu society what activities, arrangements, and advertisements might eventually lead to a marriage?

According to Hindu scriptures, basically, you must not search for your own partner, and when you do want a partner it must be the one your family arranges for you to marry. Therefore strictly speaking courtship is not to be done. In the past, matches have been made between two people before they were even born. Child marriage would often take place, and still does although it has been made illegal. The legal age of marriage in India is 18 for girls and 21 for boys. Because of this law being passed, the people in question now have more choice in their partner.

When looking for a suitable partner, usually, the person in question’s parents will begin their search by telling their friends who will then circulate the news to other families, telling them details of looks, varna, age, caste, education, financial situation and if it is a more modern arrangement, personality and interests.

In the past, the man would visit the girl’s house and she would come in with her eyes downcast for a few seconds and then leave again. In these more modern times, both families will meet and sit down to talk about it.

If the two people seem compatible serious negotiations will take place. Both families will get their family priests to study the horoscopes of the two people and if they match, a suitable date for the wedding may be chosen. Then the two families may agree to let them ‘court’ with restrictions.

If a suitable partner cannot be found, the family may decide to turn to placing an advertisement in the newspaper, or turn to an agency. Advertisements in papers for brides or grooms are very common in India.

Sometimes someone will meet somebody they would like to marry at college, work, or a similar environment. Because the majority of the time someone is attracted to another person with the same kind of background, their parents will approve of the marriage because the person chosen has come from the same caste etc.

If a match is decided, a dowry must be agreed. -This is an illegal practice, but is still sometimes done. A dowry is a payment given to the groom’s family by the bride’s family because the groom’s family now has to look after and pay for the bride. Because of the wedding’s expense, the bride may find it quite difficult to get together enough money to pay what the groom has asked for and the marriage may therefore be called off. Some Hindu families now demand dowry free weddings.

Finally, once all has been agreed, the wedding will take place.

2) a) Explain why, from a religious perspective,

i) it is considered important for a Hindu to marry a Hindu,

Within the Hindu religion it is considered very important for a Hindu to marry another Hindu. The main reason for this is because marriage in Hinduism is not seen as a lifestyle choice but a duty and religious stage of life, from ‘student’, the first ashrama, to ‘householder’, the second ashrama according to the Varna-ashrama-dharma. When married, a Hindu has the opportunity to achieve three goals:

> A release from all basic human desires through marriage and having children.

> A contribution to society though hard work.

> The duty of carrying out whatever demands his particular caste places upon him.

The 13th saskara is reached when a Hindu marries. Marriage in Hinduism is quite obviously a religious action. Therefore in not marrying a Hindu, you cannot easily for-fill these tasks given to you.

You can preserve the purity of your religion and caste by marrying in the traditional way.

By marrying a Hindu, you will have your horoscopes compared, will have the same religious state of mind, and are therefore compatible.

If two Hindus marry, the families will get along and there will be no feuds.

You will keep your parents happy by marrying a fellow Hindu in the correct manner. If you do not, there may be a major disagreement in which your family may not ever fully forgive you. They may even believe that in abandoning the correct tradition of marriage, you are abandoning the Hindu religion.

If you marry a Hindu you will gain respect from the Hindu society whereas if you don’t there may be a lot of disrespect and gossip about you.

Your children will be brought up to believe the Hindu faith and will not be confused of which parent religion he or she should follow. He or she will learn all the correct rituals. The eldest son will light his father’s funeral pyre as Hinduism states.

The Hindu marriage, as shown in question one, is full of symbolism and if this ritual is formed correctly good karma will follow. In fact large parts of Hinduism itself are all about ritual and tradition. So if you do not marry a Hindu, all this will be lost, bad Karma will follow and you will never be released from samara, the series of births, deaths and re-births and atman will never be rejoined with Brahmin. -This is a Hindu’s main goal and therefore it is essential to marry a Hindu.

ii) being married is important in Hindu society,

Being married is important in the Hindu society. This is because marriage in Hinduism is not seen as a lifestyle choice but a duty and religious stage of life, from ‘student’, the first ashrama, to ‘householder’, the second ashrama according to the Varna-ashrama-dharma. When married, a Hindu has the opportunity to achieve three goals:

> A release from all basic human desires through marriage and having children.

> A contribution to society though hard work.

> The duty of carrying out whatever demands his particular caste places upon him.

The 13th saskara is reached when a Hindu marries. Marriage in Hinduism is quite obviously a religious action. Therefore in not marrying, it is impossible to for-fill your dharma.

By having a Hindu marriage correctly good karma will follow. Large parts of Hinduism itself are all about ritual and tradition. So if you do not marry, all this will be lost, bad Karma will follow and you will never be released from samara, the series of births, deaths and re-births and atman will never be rejoined with Brahmin. -This is a Hindu’s main goal and therefore it is essential to marry.

iii) it is important to consult with all members of the family when the marriage is being arranged.

It is important to consult all members of the family when a marriage is being arranged. The main reason for this is because when a marriage takes place is not just between the bride and groom but both families as well.

Also by asking all members of the family you can ensure a good match in marriage.

If anything goes wrong there will be shame upon the family and therefore all must be consulted.

2) b) Explain the response of Hinduism to the moral problems of courtship.

According to Hindu scriptures, basically, you must not search for your own partner, and when you do want a partner it must be the one your family arranges for you to marry. Therefore strictly speaking courtship is not to be done. Romance, traditionally was only for the Gods. There are certain exceptions however, as Hinduism has had to change with the times and become more flexible and acceptant of modern practices.

For instance, once an arranged marriage has been agreed to and the couple are engaged they can announce it and can therefore openly walk in the street holding hands and go to the cinema or such like unaccompanied without being gossiped about by Hindu society. They may not sleep together or mover in together before marriage though. This is because according to the Varna-ashrama-dharma sex is restricted to the householder stage of life and must not be performed in any of the other three stages of life.

3) In Hinduism, marriages are arranged. Do you agree or disagree with the system? Give reasons for your answer. Why would a Hindu agree or disagree with you?

Although ‘love marriages’ are becoming more common within Hinduism, the majority of the time, parents arrange their children’s marriages for them. Marriage is not seen as an optional lifestyle extra but a religious stage in life and therefore it is said that you should love the one you marry, not marry the one you love.

Elders are said to be older and therefore wiser and more experienced whereas their children are said to be immature and do not know enough about the world to make a sound choice when it comes to life partners.

On the other hand, if your parents make the wrong match and you and your husband have a complete personality clash once your married you have to spend the rest of your life trying to grow to love someone that you really don’t get on with.

A Hindu would argue then that your horoscopes are compatible with your partners and therefore why wouldn’t you get along?

If you let your family arrange your marriage for you, you will make them happy.

If you do not, there may be a major disagreement in which your family may not ever fully forgive you. They may even believe that in abandoning the tradition of arranged marriages, you are abandoning the Hindu religion.

If you have an arranged marriage you will gain respect from the Hindu society whereas if you don’t there may be a lot of disrespect and gossip about you.

I feel a very important aspect of a relationship is trust. A problem that may arise when marring someone that you do not know all that well is that the two of you will probably not immediately trust each other and the relationship will suffer because of it. Also, sexually, you do not know each other yet are expected to immediately have a healthy sex life as oppose to gently easing into these things. You may feel awkward in being physical with someone you do not have solid trust in.

In support of arranged marriages, a person searching for the perfect partner: ‘the one’ may never find this person. -This person may not even exist. If you have an arranged marriage you know you will have a wedding and not spend half of your life looking for a husband/wife.

With the wedding itself, there are many traditional symbolic gestures that must be performed and little room left for individuality.

On the other hand a Hindu marriage is full of symbolism and if this ritual is formed correctly good karma will follow. In fact large parts of Hinduism itself are all about ritual and tradition. So if you do not marry in the correct manner, all this will be lost, bad Karma will follow and you will never be released from samara, the series of births, deaths and re-births and atman will never be rejoined with Brahmin. -This is a Hindu’s main goal and therefore it is essential to have an arranged marriage.

You do not really know this person you will spend the rest of your life with. Your husband/wife may have a problem such as gambling, a health condition or an alcohol addiction that you did not previously know about. In love marriages, you have usually been with and lived with your partner for several years before getting married and you therefore will almost certainly know every detail about him/her.

After weighing up the points for and against marriage, although I can see from a Hindu’s point of view why arranged marriages are a good thing, I have one major disagreement. A Hindu’s main argument for arranged marriages is that it is a religious stage of life and not a lifestyle choice. As I am not Hindu, I do not believe this or other Hindu beliefs to be true. Therefore I personally disagree with arranged marriages. I feel that to marry, you must first be in a loving, longstanding relationship with a strong bond of trust and love. Marriage, to me, is something that shows commitment and love between two people and I find the concept of arranged marriages quite absurd. If to me, marriage is a gesture showing a couple’s love and therefore surely the couple must be in love before taking vows of their love to one another?

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Hindu wedding ceremony. (2017, Sep 14). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/hindu-wedding-ceremony-essay

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