Thursday, October 28, 2004
So this weekend i have to go to a thread ceremony ( a ritual done by the brahmin cast among hindus to symbolize their superiority over the rest) of my american born confused CUZ, frankly i dont understand why indian parents still want to subject their beliefs on the poor little confused generation. Maybe i will write about that some other time, dont want to be cynical all the time lest vivin knock on me door and bash me up.
The great thing about going to orange county from zee desert is that its been raining cats and dogs over there and that means the snow is piling up at big bear. Its been over a decade the mountain's opened up for some riding the slopes in october. I cant wait to get some early season action !! .
Monday, October 25, 2004
It may come as no surprise to many that i am writing a blog on the rituals that are going to be bestowed upon me in the near future. I think the south Indian wedding is the most glaring example of subjugation of women in the hindu society that has its roots spread vastly into our culture even in the present day. That being said lets make it clear on the onset that this is my interpretation of the facts and i am NOT a female rights activist ;)
This is a social function, called JANA VASAM in South India and BARAAT in North India.
Through such a parade, public approval is sought of the groom, chosen by the family.
Have no comments on thisNANDI DEVATA PUJA
Not much to say here
This is performed to propitiate the nine astral planets that rule over man’s destiny.
Note: making sure that the an obedient wife doest change the astral value of his destinyVRATHAM
The manthras say : "O God Varuna, Be she harmless to my brothers and sisters! Oh Brihaspathi! May she no evil to her husband! O Lord Indra! Bless her to be a good guardian of her children! O Surya! Bless her with all wealths! "
In other words if not for this ceremony the bride to be will be a bitch in every sense of this mordern day word. In case u did not notice its a an ordeal involving the two fathers.
EXCHANGE OF GARLANDS.
The bride and the groom are lifted to the shoulders of their respective uncles; and in that position the two garland each other thrice for a complete union. A garland worn by a person, should not be used by another, ordain our shastras. Here the exchange of garlands symbolises their unification – as one soul in two bodies. It is inward acceptance by each of the very fragrance of the other.
The romance continues ..PAALIKAI -SEEDS SOWING
This is fertility rite. Paalikais are earthen pots prepared a day earlier – pots spread at the base with hariali grass and Bael leaves (Vilvam); nine kinds of pre-soaked cereals are ceremonially sown in these pots by Sumangalis. After the marriage, the sprouted seedlings are released in a river or pool. This ritual invokes the blessings of the eight-direction-quartered guardian angles, for a healthy life and progeny to the couple.
Water, and lighted lamps are circulated around the swing in order to guard the couple against demons and ghosts.
Coloured globules of cooked rice are waved in circular motion, and thrown away – to propitiate the evil spirits.
Wonder why noone ever touches the brides feet ?
The bride is made to sit on her father’s lap and is given away as gift by him, to the bridegroom.
On the girl’s head, a ring made with Kusa, the sacred grass called DARBHA, is placed, and over it, is placed a yoke; the Gold Mangal Sutra ( or THAALI ) is placed right on the aperture of the yoke, and water is poured through the aperture. The Mantras chanted at this time, say: "Let this gold multiply your wealth! Let this water purify your married life, and may your prosperity increase. Offer yourself to your husband! "
The bride then is given an auspicious ablution, and an exclusive new KOORAI Saree is draped around her – this is done by the sister of the bridegroom.
To bride in her new saree, a belt made of reed-grass is tied around the waist. The manthras chant: "She standeth here, pure before the holy fire, as one blessed with boons of a good mind, a healthy body, life-long companionship of her husband ( Sumangali Bhagyam ) and children with long life. She standeth as one who is avowed to stand by her husband virtuously. Be she tied with this red-grass rope, to the sacrament of marriage! "
Thanks giving vedic hymns follow to the celestial caretakers of her childhood: the Deities of SOMA, GANDHARVA and AGNI.
The father of the bride, while offering his daughter chants: "I offer ye my daughter, a maiden virtuous, good-natured, very wise, decked with ornaments to the best of my ability-; that she shall guard the Dharma, Wealth, and Love! "
This is the most intersting time, firstly note the symbollism in the bride being a "gift". So she is a object that will bring pleasure to the person given to.. in this case the groom, and then the justification by her father that according to his knowledge she is being presented in the purest form.
THE BRIDEGROOM’S ASSURANCE
I think after that kind of pampering any man would be willing to oblige ;)
PAANI GRAHANAM This means "holding hands". The groom holds the hand of the bride. The Manthras say: The Devas have offered you to me in order that I may live the life of a householder ( GRIHASTA ); we shall not part from each other even after we grow old! "
SAPTHA PADHI Holding the bride’s hand, the bridegroom walks seven steps with her. This is the most important part of the marriage ceremony, and only when they walk seven steps together ( i.e. perform SAPTHA PADHI ) is the marriage complete legally. The belief is that when one walks 7 steps with another, one becomes the another’s friend. The manthras recited then, mean: "Ye who have walked seven steps with me, become my companion, where by I acquire your friendship. We shall remain together inseparable. Let us make a vow together; we shall share love, share the same food, and share the strength, the same tastes. We shall be of one mind, we shall observe the vow together. I shall be the SAMA, you the RIG: I shall be the Upper World, you the earth; I shall be the SUKHILAM, you the HOLDER – together we shall live, beget children, and other riches, come thou, O sweet-worded girl! "
Even in the midst of saying "I Do" the male dominance over the female is subtly evident (upper world - earth etc.) in the hyms chanted. No wonder hindu women are so sensitive to any kind of touch before marriage ;)
A crucial part of the wedding is the homage paid by the couple to AGNI, the fire- God. They circle around the fire, and feed it with ghee, and twigs of nine types of trees, as sacrificial fuel. The fumes that arise, are supposed to possess medicinal, curative and cleansing effects on the bodies of the couple. AGNI, the mightiest power in the cosmos, the sacred purifier, the all-round benefactor, is deemed as a witness to the marriage (AGNI SAAKSHI )
TREADING ON THE GRINDSTONE
So basically be like someone who has never cheated on her husband no matter how hard the times have been .. but what about the dude .. is he free to roam around the country side ;)
This shall comprise the bride’s own offering to the sacrificial fire. As she is forbidden to do it herself, her brother helps her. He gives her a handful of parched rice grains which she hands to bridegroom who on her behalf, feeds it into the fire. Through this food offering, the bride seeks a long life for her husband, and propagation of the family. Participation of the bride’s family members indicates the continuance of links between the two families, even after marriage. The couple circle around the fire, three times, and the feeding of the fire with parched rice, is repeated thrice.SHOWERING OF ‘AKSHADAI’Akshadai, i.e. rice-grains coated with turmeric and saffron, are showered on the couple, by elders and invitees – as benediction.
The Husband - worshipping has begun ...
Taking with her, fire from the Laaja Homam, the bride takes leave of her home, and enters the new home of her in-laws. The vedic hymns now sound likes the mother’s words of advice to her daughter: "Be the queen of your husband’s home. May your husband glorify your virtues; conduct yourself in such a way that you win your mother-in-law’s love, and be in the good books of your sister’s-in-law."
Basically do what u are told !!
These events brings out many qualities of the bride and the groom – sporting spirit, kindness, strength, co-operative nature etc.
Yeah we do need to have some fun after a strenous day !
THE NIGHT TIME HOMAMS
THE JAYAATHI HOMAM – is performed to propitiate the Gandharvas and deities.
PRAVESA HOMAM – is done to solemnise the bride’s entry in to the husband’s home. The sacrificial fire is brought along by the bride.
SESHA HOMAM – is Fire oblation with the residual ghee, a little of which is sprinkled on the bride’s head four times.
Not much to say here
THAAMBOOLA CHARVANAM & BALA DHAANAM
I think this is stretching the ritual game a bit too far here ... its like lord of the rings ending .. when u thought it had ended it was actually just the beginning ;)