Marriage Traditions in America and Hindu Culture

Marriage is something that most look forward to from a young age. Along with marriage comes the traditions and rituals that are done in each culture. We are going to take a look at a traditional wedding in America and compare that to weddings in the Hindu culture. These ceremonies can happen at any age in life, but generally happen in the early to mid-twenties. In traditional American culture, women throw bridal showers. This is a ritual that helps transition the bride and groom into husband and wife.

This ritual is traditionally only for the bride and it celebrates her upcoming from the single life to the married life. The first bridal showers in the United States were in the early 1900s.

Some of the most common events at a bridal shower are gift-giving and game playing. Some typical gifts include: pots and pans, linens, and small kitchen appliances. Some other gifts include: lingerie, massage oils, and other items to be used during the honeymoon.

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The game typically revolves around romance and sexuality. Because women were still gaining their rights in the 1900s, bridal showers have come a long way since then. The male version of a bridal shower is the bachelor party. This is supposed to be a night of sexual freedom. Men celebrate their bachelorhood by attending baseball games, going golfing, or taking camping trips with friends. Bachelor parties used to correlate with hotels, exotic dancers, and an abundance of alcohol, but, today many men do not take part in exotic dancers at their events.

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Women have also begun participating in bachelorette parties since the 1960s, during the time of the sexual revolt and women’s rights movement. Most bachelorette parties are planned by one or more individuals from the bridal party. Bachelorette parties usually entail having cocktails, visiting spas, and going out to night clubs or strip clubs. The wedding ceremony is generally a public event to declare commitment. Women generally wear a white dress and men wear a tuxedo. Traditions that exist during the ceremony include walking down the aisle and reciting handwritten vows. Other traditions include a ring exchange and a wedding reception. A wedding reception is a celebration of the new couple with dancing and music.

The final part of the typical American wedding is a honeymoon. This is when both the husband and wife voluntarily give up their responsibilities to focus on their new roles as a couple. These are usually once-in-a-lifetime trips where couples go somewhere tropical with a beach. Although a honeymoon is usually a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, it often comes with a price tag. Americans generally spend around $4,500 on their honeymoon, but since the goal of the honeymoon is to celebrate the newly wedded couple in an unfamiliar place, cost usually isn’t a priority. Another culture that has similar traditions, in that they include a large ceremony and the exchange rings, is the Hindu culture. However, the Hindu culture has many traditions that set their weddings apart from the typical American wedding.

In Hindu culture, the maternal parents first choose who they feel would be a good marital partner for their daughter. After this process, the priest helps determine if this is a good match based on the placement of the stars and planets at the time of birth, a process known as Jatakam. After this selection process is done, the priest is asked to suggest a date of engagement. During a betrothal ceremony, rings are exchanged between the bride and groom. Some prewedding rituals include Kalash Sthapana which represents the body of God. “Hiranya garbha sama varta tagre” is sung in the Vedas. Next, a homa, or sacrifice, is performed.

This is a nuptial ceremony where prayers, respect, and offerings are given. A fire is lit in the haven kund and placed in the Vedi made from clay. This is brought during the matkor ceremony. The Hardi is a ceremony of the application of turmeric paste of the bride and groom at their homes. Finally, Kanganas are tied to the wrists with chants of mantras for protection and benediction for the smooth and successful progress of prayers. In Hindu culture there are eight types of marriage. The types are Brahma, Daiva, Arsha, Prajapathya, Gandarva, Asura, Rakshasa, and Paishacha marriages. The marriage date is fixed based on the astrological charts. Invitations are then sent out. Before the wedding there is a lot of time spent together and time spent exchanging gifts.

The wedding day begins with Swagatham, which is welcoming the groom and his friends and family who are greeted by the bride’s family. The day of the wedding all family and friends from both parties gather in a public auditorium or temple. Kanya Agamana is when the bride is carried into the Mandap by her maternal uncle, who offers his blessings. The couple exchanges garlands as a gesture to respect and accept each other as partners. This exchange is known as Jaimala. The bride’s parents offer their daughter in marriage during a ritual called kanyadan. The parents of the bride place the bride’s right hand into the groom’s right hand, this is to symbolize the acceptance to love, respect, and protect her forever.

This joining of the hands is known as Hasta Melap. The ceremony is then conducted by a priest. During the ceremony, Vedic mantras are chanted, while a band plays in the background. The groom ties a sacred thread or a gold chain round the bride with three knots, accepts her hand in marriage and takes seven steps together with her. This is to signify the beginning of their journey together as a couple. At this point in the ceremony, vows are recited. The couple is then blessed during Jalasnchana, this is when the parents of both bride and groom dip a rose in water and sprinkle it over the couple.

The groom applies a small dot of vermilion to the brides forehead and welcomes her as his partner for life in a process called Sindhoor. The priest gives his blessing and friends and family throw rice and flowers on the couple as well wishes. After the ceremony, the couple shares their first meal together. This breaks their premarital fast. Games are played to lighten the mood, and then gifts are exchanged. All invited to the wedding are served meals, usually per the bride’s parents and the day ends with the bride leaving her family.

References

  1. Bulcroft, K., Smeins, L., Bulcroft, R. (1999). Romancing the honeymoon: Consummating marriage in modern society. California, United States: Sage Publications, Inc.
  2. Currie, D. H. (1993). ‘Here Comes the Bride’: The Making of a ‘Modern Traditional’ Wedding in Western Culture*. Journal Of Comparative Family Studies, 24(3), 403-421.
  3. Kulish, N. (2002, September 3). Turning the tables: Bachelorette parties are getting risqué. Wall Street Journal – Eastern Edition, p. A1.
  4. Kumar, P. (2015, December 01). A sociological study on religious aspects in Hindu marriage system. Retrieved from http://www.allresearchjournal.com/archives/?year=2015&vol=1&issue=13&part=H&ArticleId=1291
  5. Marin, R. (1999, April 11). Bachelor parties to make a satyr weep. New York Times, p. 1.
  6. Montemurro, B. (2003). Sex symbols: The bachelorette party as a window to change in women’s sexual expression. Sexuality & Culture: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, 7(2), 3-29.
  7. Montemurro, B. (2006). Something old, something bold: Bridal showers and bachelorette parties. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.

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Marriage Traditions in America and Hindu Culture. (2022, Jan 03). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/marriage-traditions-in-america-and-hindu-culture-essay

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