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Hindu Weddings

Essay by   •  November 14, 2010  •  Research Paper  •  1,988 Words (8 Pages)  •  1,689 Views

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Marriage is the institution whereby men and women are joined in a special kind of social and legal dependence for the purpose of founding and maintaining a family. (Webster's Dictionary.) When a couple gets married they make a vow in front of their loved ones and their God to be together for the rest of their lives and abide by each other. In the Hindu religion, which is the third largest religion in the world, weddings are very sacred, therefore a wedding ceremony takes a lot of time and effort and it is composed of different rituals and ceremonies. The Hindu marriage, "Lagna Vivah" is the connection of two human beings in a nuptial ceremony that takes place according to their religion. It's the connection of not only the man and woman being married, but also of two families that will have a very special relationship from that day forward. According to Hinduism, marriage is the joining together of a man and woman spiritually, mentally and physically.

Hindu marriages are arranged by parents. Parents choose companions who are best suited to their children by observing personal qualities, social status and education of a potential partner. "In the Hindu society there are five different caste systems, they are the Brahmans who are priests and philosophers, the Kshatriyas who are the warriors responsible for military service and supporting the law. There are also the Vaishyas who are the ones responsible for trading and commerce, the Shudras who are manual laborers and the low-caste many called untouchables." (Mordecai, Weddings, Dating and love customs...) There are different caste systems because of their idea of reincarnation and Karma therefore they must marry within their own caste which is passed on from generation to generation from fathers to sons. The higher the caste, the greater cleanliness an individual has. If you are in a high caste you can never touch an untouchable if you do you must cleanse and complete a ritual in order to be pure again. Therefore you can never marry someone outside your caste even if you are truly in love with someone outside your caste your marriage will never be favored. If a couple still goes ahead and proceeds with marrying even though they are from two different castes, there family will basically disown them and so they will have to deal with a lot of public pressure from their family as well as outsiders.

Today the idea of arranged marriages is overlooked as a forced marriage from other society's point of views. Hindus arrange their children to meet partners they think are well suitable for them but this does not mean the son or daughter has to automatically marry this person they have been introduced to. They have a choice whether to go along with it or not. They are not forced at any point to marry this person. Years ago parents arranged their children marriages while their children were very young and even babies. They understood that if the kids grew up together over the years they will learn everything there was to know about each other and so everything will basically work out to their advantage. Even though the girl was practically married at a very young age she did not have to live with her husband until she was matured, until then she will just visit him and his family. The wedding will occur before puberty, so the girl will be a virgin and everything will work out perfect. Today, infant marriages are not allowed and girls can only marry after the age of four. Even though a girl is not arranged to be married while she is a child she is still not allowed to have boyfriends before marriage and are expected to stay virgins.

Another way to look for partners is by the boys and girls who are intending to get married will meet their opposite sex at gatherings such as weddings, Navratri festivals, parties etc... Once the boy and girl show they are interested then an additional meeting will be arranged for them to talk further about what they are interested in, and their intentions in the future this will escalade to more meetings and eventually they will keep showing more interest and once they are content with each others personalities the wedding arrangement will be made. If they feel like they don't want to continue seeing each other this way because they are not happy with each others personalities they have a right to refuse the proposal with no hard feelings.

Couples who chose to further their arrangement and agree to get married will then have the ring ceremony "Sagai" also known as the engagement. This is performed in two stages; first the selected few relatives from the girls side visit the boys house and complete a plain ceremony, this is to basically accept the boy being engaged to the girl. Second, the opposite occurs the groom visits the girl's house. After this they are considered to be engaged and are accepted in society as a future husband and wife. This phase is in effect for a couple of months or even years and even then they have an option of breaking the marriage.

After the ring ceremony there is a registration ceremony and this is the legit marriage in the laws of this country. It is held in a registration office, and this is where the rings are exchanged and the marriage certificate is signed and witnessed. After this a reception is held by the bride's parents and it is composed of between two and three hundred people. The bride and groom won't go home together though; they will go with their own family until the wedding.

Before the big wedding ceremony, there is a pre-custom ceremony; when the groom gets to the brides town with his friends and family, the bride's family conduct a welcome ceremony. After the groom has dinner there the bride and groom stand on a decorated wood board and priests hold a curtain between them. While the bride's family stands behind her, the priests chant marriage songs and guests throw rice over the couple. (Mordecai, Weddings, Dating and love customs...) After this brief ceremony comes the big event that has taken so much time and everyone has been awaiting.

Traditional Hindu wedding ceremonies (Lagna Prasang), can last for days and most of the ritual will take place in Sanskrit which may be only understood by the priest conducting the ceremony. The wedding day is decided after discussing with the priest, who recommends the date which the ceremony will take place according to the religious calendar. The preparation for the main event is planned months ahead and begins as soon as the curtain is removed garlands and sandalwood chips are placed around the couples necks. The handing over ceremony (bidai) is the most important; this is when the bride's father hands her over and it is very emotional for the bride's family. The girl's family expects the male to look over her for their rest

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