An Indian traditional wedding is one of the most festive weddings across different cultures in the world. It is also one of the longest because of the various ceremonies rituals and customs involved. Like any ancient culture, these ceremonies and rituals have religious significance with Kanyadaan being the most religious and the most emotional ritual.
The Hindu culture is rich with mythology and religion. This greatly influences how their customs and celebrations are done. A wedding is definitely one of the most significant celebrations in Hindu culture. A Hindu wedding ritual that carries a significant religious background is the Kanyadaan. According to Hindu tradition, a Hindu person has to make a donation or a “daan” to receive salvation. This could be done in the form of a “gaudaan” or a cow and a “kanyadaan” where “kanya” signifies a girl or a virgin. In the case of a wedding, it is the parents of the bride that have to extend this donation with their daughter as the “kanyadaan”. In other words the parents have to give away their daughter as a form of gift to the groom.
The groom is considered to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and the bride is considered to be a form of Goddess Lakshmi, the deity of wealth and prosperity. This way, according to the tradition, the parents’ sins are forgiven through the merit of this ritual of religious donation.
To “give away” their most precious daughter is not a simple thing to do for any parents especially for the father. The emotional weight of this ceremony greatly affects the father. Here, it is important to understand the mutual feelings that a father daughter relationship hold. No matter what, daughters are their father’s most prized possessions and he can never stop loving them. During the Kanyadaan, the father symbolically hands over the responsibility of his daughter to the groom with lots of hope and expectations. The traditional Hindu wedding stretches this part and makes it more emotionally charged through the Kanyadaan ceremony. Hence, the bride’s father has to go through this entire ceremony in a ritualistic manner of letting go of his daughter. Can you imagine how heavy this must be for a father?
The Kanyadaan ritual is done during the main wedding day ceremony. The father of the bride places the right hand of the bride on top of the right hand of the groom. The presiding priest will put some rice on the joined hands and then the bride’s parents will pour a holy water while the priest sings a Vedic ritual hymn. The groom will then swear to be loyal and to devote his love to the bride for all his life and he will also sing a Vedic ritual hymn.
The ceremony ends with the bride finally given over to the care of her groom. Giving away the “prosperity” of their life, their daughter, is considered as the noblest donation possible by a couple and is an emotional moment for everyone who is present. However, this may only be symbolical since every parent knows that their love and care for their beloved child will never cease at the wedding.