In India, the wedding ceremony involves elaborate customs and rituals. The Hindu wedding is characteristically marked with the customary fervor that is directly imported from the ancient Vedas which are the fundamental scriptures of Hinduism. These scriptures have served the core values for the followers and these values have been kept through the best adherences and nurturing. It should be stated that marriage is a relation of life for the couple and serves the heavenly purpose of eternity in this world. There has to be some unique basis to grant authenticity to this relation and its foundation. In the Hindu religion, the ritual of kanyadaan has been developed as the basis of the wedding. It is conducted in the beginning of the wedding and paves way for other customs of high significance. Let’s look into the basics of the kanyadaan ceremony!
The term ‘kanya’ refers to the girl while the term ‘daan’ is the offering with free will without seeking any cost of it. The kanyadaan thus refers to the offering rather gifting of the girl (as a bride) by her father to the groom who accepts her as his wife for life and ever. This custom naturally forms the basis of the Hindu marriage ceremony. Since times immemorial, the father of the bride has been offering his daughter as a gracious gift to the consenting groom. This is the fundamental concept of the ‘brahma marriage’.
How it is done -
During the kanyadaan, the father holds the hands of his daughter and places it over that of the groom with the palms of both turning upwards. This act is symbolic of the offering the daughter to the groom as his wife together with all the promises that the groom has to make for the good of his bride. These promises are taken by the father which completes this ritual. In the absence of the father (death or otherwise), the elder father like figure from the bride’s side completes this ritual for the bride.
As stated above, the Vedic hymns form the vital part of the wedding traditions and in kanyadaan also, the wedding priests chant the sacred hymns. The formal question is asked from the groom as who has offered this bride and to whom. The priest while asking the question as Sanskrit slokas also offers the reply. The groom accepts this hymn as a witness while holding the hand of his bride. After this the formal promise is taken by the father from the groom who is also asked to keep his promise on three counts namely – dharma (the religion), arth (the wealth) and Kama (the sexual life). The groom offers affirmations thrice!
The significance of kanyadaan –
From the above process, it is clear that the ceremony of kanyadaan serves to obtain the content of the groom in a formal manner before all the guests that witness the affirmation. Moreover, the solemn promises are made in front of sacred fire and this offers the real authentic beginning!