According to contemporary, orthodox Hindu theories, giving their daughter to the husband's family not only increases and ensures the parents' prestige, but it is also believed to purify them of sin. Kanyadan mainly reveals that the wife is a form of Puruṣārthas like Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. The ritual makes the bridegroom to think that his wife is the most precious gift given by the god Vishnu and the bride to think that her husband is a form of Vishnu.
To understand why kanyadaan is so emotionally charged, it is important to understand how a father feels for his daughter. This is something that is not unique to India, for it is a global emotion that fathers share a special bond with their daughters while the mother and son have a close bonding. Even the most possessive and rigid father is known to melt under the sweet smile of his daughter. Fathers consider their little girls as the most prized possessions, and take great care in their upbringing. They are also the ones who pamper all their wishes, despite the scolding from the mother! So close is their bond that the thought of just handing her over to someone else can be heart-wrenching.
It is done for marrying the child, basically oriented to keep the creation going on. It is believed that the pitririna is cleared after this.
This is the marriage ceremony. Eight forms of marriages have been described in our Dharma Shashtraas. These are: Braahama, Daiva, Aarsh, aasur, Gaandharv, Raakshas and Paishaach Vivaahas.
Marriage should really be a sacrament (sanskar) and not a contract, as it is perceived and practiced today. The main aim of marriage should be to settle the debt of the parents by having your own children and taking care of your family and parents. Here are some of the statements which should be made during a marriage ceremony.
I am Samveda, you are Rigveda. I am heaven, you are the earth. (Atharva 15.2.71)
While acknowledging the omnipotent God, she says: O, God! Release me from the family of my father, but don’t release me from the family of my husband.
During the ceremony, rice which has not been husked is used. This symbolizes the growth of the harvested rice when it is replanted, which relates to the bride because she is taken from her home and flourishes in her new home with her husband.
In marriage ceremonies, seven steps are taken (Sapt Padi):
- Physical Strength
- Togetherness in all circumstances and all weather conditions
- Friendship, Comradeship.
Customs and rituals are the base of Hindu marriages, which denote the real meaning of a happily married life. Saptapadi consists of seven different promises which the bride and the groom take as an oath during their wedding. There are many rituals and customs in the Hindu weddings, but the most important of them all is the Saptapadi.
During the pheras, the priest who conducts the wedding recites or chants the Vedic mantras, and the groom holds the little finger of the bride and repeats the vows. He leads her around four times and for the last three steps, the bride leads the groom around the sacred fire. During the pheras or steps, the Gods are invoked to shower blessings on the bride and the groom. It is believed that when a married couple takes seven pheras together, their married life will be happy for a long time. The Agni is made with ghee and wooden stick, the bride and the groom take pheras around this during the wedding. The couple takes vows and pledges their commitment towards each other for their entire life.
Seven Steps / Vows (Promises) in the Hindu Wedding Means:
The couple takes the first step and promises that they will take care of each other and pray for abundant blessings, prosperity & food in their life.
In the second step, the couple promises and prays to the Gods to bless them with physical and mental powers and lead a healthy married life.
During the third step, they promise to protect and increase their wealth by proper means.
With the fourth step, the bride and the groom pledge to share happiness and sadness together.
With the fifth step, the couple promises to be responsible and care for their children.
Togetherness in all circumstances and all weather conditions
The sixth step is taken by the couple to be together always.
And while taking the last seventh step, they promise to be truthful and trustworthy to each other and pledge to be united always in friendship and harmony.
On taking the seven pheras together, the bride and the groom prays to be together forever without having any clashes or quarrels to break their relationship and not only thinking about their likes and desires but also about the entire family.
Thus, the ritual of Saptapadi is one of the most important ceremonies in the Hindu wedding and the concept behind it is that the newlyweds pray and pledge not only for them but everyone in the family to be healthy and prosperous.
The significance here is that the couple is convinced that the Grihasthashram is not pure fun and games, you have to work at it. It is a commitment. One of the very important mantras recited is:
“Om mama vrite te hridayam dadhaami, mama chittam anu chittam te astu
mama vaacham ek manah, jushasva prajapatishtva niyunaktu mayam,”
Here the couple takes a pledge to conjoin their thoughts and emotions. The groom takes the vow that:
“I consider it my duty and I take a vow with God as the first witness that I shall fulfill your desires and keep you as a part of my life forever.”
Marriage has been compared to the two eternal stars in the north sky. These are Dhruv and Arundhati. Both are ever-present and Hence the comparison. The groom is compared to
Dhruv, and the bride to Arundhati, which is right next to it.
Vivah leads to the phase of family life or Grihasthaashram. This is designed to take care of Pitri rin.