In an Indian wedding, there are lots of rituals. Most of these have a religious connotation behind them. In addition, these have emotional significance too. The various rituals in an Indian wedding include the sangeet, mehandi, saat phere and kanyadaan. It is not possible to do all these in one day. Hence these rituals last for many days. These begin much before the wedding and continue even after the wedding is over.
The most emotional ritual in an Indian wedding remains the kanyadaan. As per Hindu mythology, a Hindu person has to do certain daan, or donation, in order to receive moksha or salvation. By doing this only will a Hindu be allowed to go heaven after death. These include gaudaan where gau means cow and kanyadaan, where kanya means a girl, or rather a virgin. All the sins that may have been committed by the bride’s parents are able to get redeemed by doing kanyadaan.
During kanyadaan, the parents donate their daughter, a virgin, to the groom. No Hindu marriage can be completed without performing this ritual. The saat phere can take place only once this ritual has been completed. This is equivalent to “giving away” in a Christian marriage. In case the bride’s parents are dead or not able to attend the wedding, the brother can perform this ritual. Or else, a close relative has to complete this tradition.
The bride is considered as a form of Lord Vishnu, a Hindu God, at the time of marriage. During this ceremony, the bride’s father asks the groom to help the bride in achieving the various goals of her life including dharma, kama and artha. This is a highly emotional ritual in Hindu wedding ceremony as during this, the bride’s parents take away all their rights of being a father and give their daughter to the groom.
During this ceremony, the father of the bride places her right hand on the right hand of the groom. This is known as hastmilap, or meeting of palms. Next, the priest places some rice on the joined palms and asks the bride’s parents to pour sacred water over it amidst the chanting of sacred hymns. The groom hold the bride’s hands and vows to be loyal to her and take care of her for the rest of his life. At this time, the groom chants religious hymns to Lord Kama, the God of love.
In a Hindu wedding, the priest has no authority to wed the couple. This authority is vested in the Holy Gods who are witness to the ceremony. It is Agni, the Fire God, and other Gods who are invited to this ceremony and they can declare the couple as being wedded. The priest is there only to chant the shlokas, or holy hymns in Sanskrit, in order to assist with the wedding. The kanyadaan and all the other rituals of the wedding are witnessed by the Gods, the priest, the family members and all the other guests who have been invited to the wedding ceremony.