Hindu Marriage Customs (Part-1)
You must be aware that the Hindu marriage customs and traditions have been derived from the practices that have been enshrined in Vedic texts and have been handed down the generations.
The Hindu way of life is divided into four stages—Brahmacharya (bachelordom), grihasta (householder), vanaprastha (giving up possessions and devoting oneself to god as a couple), Sanyasa (giving up relationships and devoting oneself completely to god). The grihastashrama is initiated when the Hindu gets married.
The Hindu Marriage Act, you will note, also has a bearing on the legal aspects of the Hindu marriage.
Traditionally, Hindu marriages are arranged marriages and the bride and groom must belong to the same caste, community and state. However, you may find that modern Hindu marriages are sometimes love matches. Caste, community and even religions are sometimes overlooked in these matches.
Match Making and Horoscope
In Hindu marriage customs, the bride or groom is selected by the parents. You will therefore, appreciate that caste, community and social standing of the family are important considerations in the selection of the bride or groom. Of course, it follows that the education background, looks and ability to support a family are essential criteria in the selection of the groom.
In Hindu marriage customs, the elderly family members or relatives of the bride or groom may initiate the proposal of marriage or advertisements may be inserted by either party in the matrimonial columns of the newspaper.
Temples too have community centers where either party can register the horoscope of the son or daughter as a prospective marriage partner. The priests then pick up the matching horoscopes from among the registered brides and grooms and propose the match to the parents. The parents may thereafter approach the other party with a proposal if they are satisfied on other counts.
A number of Internet based matrimonial sites have also sprung up to provide the services that are being provided by the community centers in temples.
Engagement in Hindu Marriage Customs
The engagement is the first official declaration of the intended match between the bride and groom. The engagement ceremony is known by various names (Misri, Nichidartham, Sagayi etc), depending on the community and hometown of the bride and the groom. The engagement date and the auspicious time of the day (muhurat) are determined by a priest based on the reading of the horoscopes of the bride and the groom.
You will find that the process of engagement is similar across the country. The groom, his parents and close relatives visit the home of the bride with gifts of clothes and jewelry. The priest is invited to declare the engagement as official and the parents of the bride and the groom exchange tokens of the pact. This pact may be sealed with a gift of fruits, coconuts, betel leaves
and areca nuts along with clothes for the bride and the groom.
In some families the pact is sealed with an exchange of rings by the bride and the groom.
The lavishness of the party that is hosted by the bride’s family on this occasion will be incumbent upon the wealth and social position of the bride’s parents and the social customs prevalent in the groom’s family.
Interestingly, during this engagement ceremony, the dowry that will go with the bride from her parent’s home is also finalized. The dowry may include cash, jewelry, household items and vessels in silver.
The bride and the groom are allowed to meet each other in the presence of elders between the date of engagement and marriage. You will perhaps be surprised to know that in modern households, the bride is even allowed to go out with the groom for an evening so that they get to know each other.
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