Monday, October 17, 2005

Marriage Rituals - Study by a Novice / Araivekkadu

Long back, when I was reading Cho’s Enge Brahmanan, the explanations which he gave for kalyana mantrams sounded too male chauvinistic, that I wanted to peep into that section of Veda myself, to get a first hand information. But I never felt like digging deep and left it as such. Now that I will be indulging myself into one such process shortly, I dusted back that old desire and initiated learning the marriage rituals. Marriage rituals are explained in this link by Ramanan. (The source which I read was different and a very mild controversy may exist) The motive of this post is not to explain marriage ritual, but to analyze the status given to women in these rituals.

BG – Bride Groom

Mostly, BG utters all mantras through out the process and the mantras he utters can be classified broadly under these headings:

To burn/destroy unwanted and bad qualities of bride
to remove possible diseases of bride (in nugathadi ritual)
promises which he makes and making clear his expectations (sapthapathy)
Mantras uttered during Grahapravesam

The very first ritual of wedding starts with a controversy. Bride’s father washing the feet of BG. I tried a lot to find a convincing logic for it. But in all vain. Assuming BG as incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the father in law to be does this ritual. All this Vishnu stuff seemed a clear muffing up for me and the motive can be just to announce BG as the supreme guest of the function.

The next ceremony, wherein, supposedly, BG and G are to see eye to eye for the first time, BG feels the terrible fear of possible bad qualities in her which can affect his family and close relatives. He prays to God, to burn those qualities in his bride, which can kill him, his siblings and his future progenies. The next ritual which follows is nugathadi one. That is, BG placing wooden yoke in B’s head and praying God to remove all known and unknown diseases within her. (It is misinterpreted otherwise to mean that couples are wished to go ahead in their life, just as oxen tied in yoke, sharing equal responsibility with good understanding. But it represents a different story involving Aapala, where in Indra removes her off all diseases by making her go through the hole in wooden yoke of his chariot.)

The above two processes seems completely sensible because, before accepting a new person as one’s life partner, the apprehensions which one senses about the other are normal. Hence praying to God to get rid of bad qualities and diseases is nothing illogical. It would have been perfectly right and unbiased, if only Bride is also given an equal chance to pray to Almighty to remove, destroy and burn all those qualities in her bridegroom, which can kill her, to remove all those known/unknown diseases in him.

Miserably, Bride is forced to believe that the person she is going to marry is perfectly sane, well within his senses when he makes his promises. She is denied of her rights to doubt the bride groom of his bad qualities. She is denied of her rights to doubt his promises and pray Almighty to remove those qualities in him which can destroy her and her progeny.

Next comes sapthapathy ritual. Here BG offers great promises and just demands two things from his wife. He wants her to be his loyal follower who can give him healthy male progenies.

As I was losing my cool when I read this praying for male child stuff, my mother came out with a nice explanation for why gender makes a difference. Probably because, woman, as she embraces the gothram of her husband, do not carry any values of her paternal home and only a male progeny carry the values and can be a true heir of his father. That sounds logical.

But making her lose her individuality, and asking her to become a follower is an injustice, to thrust slavery in her.

Though in reality, hardly the couple understands meaning of these mantras, the fact that women are looked down hurts. Vedas, considered as uttered by Devas and sensed by great saints, should not be bound by time for its validity. Hence we cannot cover-up saying that it suited perfectly in those days when women were under privileged. If it is bound by time, it requires revision. If it requires revision, it needs human interruption. If human interruption is warranted, it loses its divinity. Is there any meaning in following something which has lost its divinity? But this questioning won’t help and it has to be undergone.

Warning I: Whatever I have concluded is with my zero knowledge in Sanskrit, just relying on translated version. Novice readers with little knowledge about these can better consult with some reliable scholar before jumping into conclusions.

Warning II: This post of mine is a genuine attempt to analyze and understand Hindu customs. A non Hindu/ non believer cannot misuse it to abuse my religion. This is a closed post meant only for Hindus.

33 Comments:

Blogger Sarada said...

Hi Vasu,

Once upon a time long long ago I used to feel bad to have born in a community where rituals are very few and actually no delibrate efforts are made to bring everyone towards God. None of our marriages are done by following the rituals you mentioned. I and my brother used to make fun our marriages which end within five minutes. But now I am happy to follow our way of marriage because it actually involves the Bride and the Bride Groom both taking a oath that they will bind together, adjust themselves, accept each other,etc. Anyway every kind of marriage ritual has it own concepts and values. I am basically a femist who will never utter anything that is against female community. Good attempt in trying to findout the real meaning of it.

Bye, Take Care
Sarada

Sunday, October 16, 2005 8:11:00 PM  
Blogger fieryblaster said...

u may be right. but still, if someone says that i have misintepreted thorougly and give another perspective for interpreting them, that will be too soothing. bcos there are certain things which u believe it as base and revere. and even if we find an obvious flaw, our heart still yearns for some reason or other to ignore and still believe in it. but i am too naive to analyze such great mantras and someone too knowledgeable may find my writing funny. i will gladly accept that i am wrong if someone sensibly points that out.

Monday, October 17, 2005 11:14:00 PM  
Blogger Tantalising Tycoon said...

Hi Vasu,

Top Stuff.. Your Warnings were really frightening. Now, What's your plan? Are you going to chant all those mantras for the "YOUR PROCESS" so that the B is also given equal rights. Vasu, My strong feeling is that when 2 hearts bind together, the importance of mantras are lost. this does not mean i am an athiest.. I am a god fearing person but just against the human made amendments in the way of worship.
.
This blog is also excellent as usual.
.

Regards
The Tycoon.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005 8:07:00 AM  
Blogger fieryblaster said...

Pramodh, uttering my set of mantras? no such intentions:).

ur point makes good sense. though i understand it, the motive of this post was just a polambal.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005 8:38:00 AM  
Blogger Peppy said...

whoa.chanced upon this..dunno if this a closed post for everyone or such, but "post meant only for hindus" kinda puts a scary clause there :-) its a blog find-outable by anyone who searches online, otherwise it would be a login-only site no?

Tuesday, October 18, 2005 12:09:00 PM  
Blogger fieryblaster said...

peppy, the warning is essential becos i do not want some unknown to critisize my religion. it is my site, and my thoughts. i am free to write whatever i want.:)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005 4:13:00 PM  
Blogger Tantalising Tycoon said...

Hi Vasu,

Not a Polambal on the whole. Well you see i also feel that we are being "FORCED UPON" on certain on things...

Regards
Pramodh

Wednesday, October 19, 2005 4:28:00 AM  
Blogger Peppy said...

:-) zakly my point..and since its a public blog, am guessing people can comment what they want ;-)

interesting read btw.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005 5:08:00 AM  
Blogger fieryblaster said...

@ pramodh: forced? i cannot hate our rituals that much to say that i am forced. i am annoyed. that is it.

@ peppy: definitely u r right peppy. the warining is meant for those who want to use misuse it. if u do not intend to do it, it is not for u. in a public blog any one can comment. but at last the author retains the right to remove whatever she wants to:). that will be a great disgrace to commentators. the warning is to avoid that.:)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005 6:36:00 AM  
Blogger Tantalising Tycoon said...

Vasu,

Then just look at my position, I am denied the girl i love just because that my worship god is different and their worship is different. I am not saying this is the only reason.. but this is the nmain reason. The Vast divisions within hinduism is the major curse for this religion.
.
May be i talk this way because of the above reason.. but dont you think that there is truth in whatever i said???

The Tycoon.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005 8:21:00 AM  
Blogger thennavan said...

So you will be taking your vows soon; Congratulations :-)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005 8:52:00 AM  
Blogger fieryblaster said...

@ pramodh: u r answered.

@ thennavan: Thans a lot. :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005 9:28:00 AM  
Blogger Hawkeye said...

vasumathi,

interesting read. I made tons of research before i got married. I always thought it was too bride/bride's father centric with BG and fmly as very important guests. Maybe i'll have to explain more then just state what I just did.

Regarding mantras. They are very important. Please say them. They have been devised by people far superior to us in terms of intellect and knowledge. Every word uttered has a precise meaning and basis. That we dont see it is incodental and does not take away the essense. This is once in a lifetime occasion dont miss. The short-term ignorance can fade away anytime.

I never believed in people who said "if in my mind i worship god i dont need to go to temples". I always translated it as "if in my mind I wanted to study i deserve an IIT admission". This is in reference to some comment in the comments section. Love although important in marriage is playing a role as much as other factors in our marriage customs. it may sound weird but that the fact.

someday we'll discuss more on this :-)

Thursday, October 20, 2005 5:56:00 AM  
Blogger fieryblaster said...

Bharath,

i think u have misunderstood one of my comments. when i said i have no intention of uttering my set of mantras, i meant, to claim equal rights, i am not going to utter my own version of mantra to 'purify' the bridgroom.

the blog was outcome of an emotion, which was similar to that felt by everyone when sankaracharyar was arrested/defamed. though facts are not out till, there are still some souls who pray to God that what ever they read in newspapers should be wrong. that he should be proved innocent.

bcos, the attachment and belief which we have on certain things are so immense that we prefer to die holding our faiths rather than knowing that they r wrong.

i am one such soul who believe that our vedas cannot be wrong. i still wish to believe that there is 100% chance that whatever i have written is foolish and some strong reasoning is there for what ever is uttered.

Thursday, October 20, 2005 7:49:00 AM  
Blogger Hawkeye said...

vasumathi,

i was talking about "2 hearts bind the importance of mantras is lost" comment by the tantalising tycoon person :-)

Saturday, October 22, 2005 1:15:00 AM  
Blogger fieryblaster said...

ok. :)

Saturday, October 22, 2005 1:20:00 AM  
Blogger Golden Face said...

Most of the rituals are borne by BG, may be b’cos wives believe their husbands than husbands do ;-0 (Just Kidding).

Monday, October 24, 2005 2:25:00 AM  
Blogger FunnyCide said...

I am glad I chanced upon your blog [well, someone referred me to it, now, doesnt that make you proud? :)]..

your blog provokes certain thinking and questioning about the whole mantras and their meanings.. And I have a feeling you are not too wrong about it [though I wish otherwise too]. And I think it is definitely worth a thought.

On a side note, just to interpret someone's analogy [in the comments section] about temple-worship,
>>"if in my mind i worship god i dont need to go to temples". I always translated it as "if in my mind I wanted to study i deserve an IIT admission".

I think that translates to more like [acc to me :)]-
"If in my mind I know I am smart and intelligent, I dont need an IIT to affirm that"!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005 7:31:00 AM  
Blogger fieryblaster said...

@ Golden Face: No comments as of now:)

@ Funnycide: I am glad to have u here. (does not it make u feel elated that i am replying ur comment?:))

BTW, the way u interpreted that IIT comment also sounds good.:)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005 8:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi fieryblaster,

I appreciate the warnings that you have mentioned.

Remember that most Vedic rituals are symbolic rather than literal. You can interpret rituals in many ways.

I have the following comments:

"Father in Law washing the feet of BG",

Water is used as a purifier in many Vedic ceremonies. Why don't you see this as symbolic washing-away of any impurities that the BG holds. Here it purifies the (impure) BG. Bride's must be happy at this backhanded treatment BG gets, :).

2. Sapthapathi rituals do not talk about male progenies in the link you gave. It only says "children".

3. The last para is something that defies the humble way you started the thread (novice, araivaekaadu etc). A person with self-confessed "zero knowledge" on Sanskrit will do well to keep the judgement reserved until he/she gets some more knowledge on the subject. An open mind should reserve subjective judgements till full research with source material is done- just like we want to reserve judgement on Jayendra Saraswathi till the Court issues the verdict.

Most of the "openness" in Hinduism that allows such questions to be asked without being branded as a blasphmer is used by Christist conversion mongers (you know, 20% TN is already Christian?) and the selective Hindu-bashing pagutharivu vyathigal.

Let us not fall prey to these elements.

So while your warnings are good, the premature judgements yous have issued are unwarranted.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005 12:46:00 PM  
Blogger fieryblaster said...

@Anonymous:
1. As i said, whatever explanation which u gave for washing feet is viewed by me as nothing less than muffing up. u know it urself

2. the link does talk abt male projenies in grahapravesa mantrams. as i mentioned in my post, the source which i read was different, and more authenticated than the link i have given. it speaks both abt the mantras and its meanings and i am sure that sapthapathy ritual does talk abt male projenies.

3. the fact that i do not know sanskrit does not disallow me from coming to conclusion. moreover, as i consulted with more than one source while writing this post, i was pretty clear abt the procedure being followed. however, the only lacuna being zero knowledge in sanskrit, i felt that it would be genuine to declare that also. Till now i do not think that my judgement is incorrect. until i get a convincing answer, i have the liberty to feel that i am right, though i feel very bad to exercise that liberty even. (confused?):)

As u can infer, even my motive for the warnings were to prevent those organizations which u mentioned from misusing it. that itself was too precautionary and very few visit my site:)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005 9:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. Washing feet: I just wanted to point that we are conditioned by our prejudices- washing feet is just an example. Washing feet symbolises purification. What is wrong in BG's father making sure that the bride is pure before he becomes eligible to be married to his daughter.

2. Your blog states: "Next comes sapthapathy ritual. Here BG offers great promises and just demands two things from his wife. He wants her to be his loyal follower who can give him healthy male progenies".

I just pointed that Sapthapathy mantra do not mention male children; they only generically refer to children. Now you are saying Grahapravesa mantra. I would like to see the original mantra.

3. "i do not know sanskrit does not disallow me from coming to conclusion...until i get a convincing answer, i have the liberty to feel that i am right"

You mean you have the right to feel doubtful about the unbiasedness of the marriage mantras, right? If we have already concluded about something even if the truth stares at us we would miss it.

Let me put it this way, we find it hard to understand our parents or kids even after 15-20 years of our close relations with them. We find it hard to understand Tamil that was written say 100-200 years before even if we speak the language in our daily life. How fair it is then to judge a writing that was done more than thousands of years ago in a language we have totally lost touch with in our mainstream life and in a climate where "modern" means "hating tradition" and abruptly declare that "I am right"?

Epporul Yaar Yaar vaai ketpinum
Apporul Meiporul Kanpadharivu.

However, keep searching. In Hinduism, searching for the truth is very much encouraged and it is a very personal spiritual journey. While it is important to keep searching, premature decisions could close the doors of openness. There is a saying that the answer will appear when you are ready. We must all try to become "ready".

Thursday, November 03, 2005 3:17:00 PM  
Blogger fieryblaster said...

Anoymous,

1) Regarding washing feet: purifier is sprinkled on head. not poured on leg. Also, while wud be father in law washes BG's feet, BG says mantras meaning

'let whatever water poured on my leg act to destroy all my enemies. let me be the brightest in my race'

surely, this explains that the motive of the water is to add value to the existing goodness of the BG rather than removing impurities.

2) Sapthapathy ritual consists of two parts. first B follows BG in seven steps wherein BG utters mantras asking vishnu to shower different goodness to her for each feet she follows.

once this is done, he declares mutual friendship and wishes for a male projeny.

the mantra goes like this

sadhva masya moohmasmi sadvam, dyow
raham prithvee thvam, rethoham retho pruthvam
saa maa manuvratha bava pumse puthraaya veththavai
sriyai puthraaya veththava yehi sunruthe

i desisted from giving mantras since i cannot give it with right pronounciation. this book has them in tamil and one cannot differentiate 'pa' or 'ba' without sanskrit knowledge. still if u can decifer, do it.

3) As such, whatever mantras BG utters makes complete sense and i have not denied that anywhere in my writing. i feel that they are one sided. One can suspect the quality of translation for following reasons:
(i) if done by someone who wants to put down hindu religion
(ii) due to incomplete knowledge in sanskrit.

The translation was by keezhathoor srinivasacharyar. The book very well exhibits his inclination towards the rituals and regard over Hindu customs.

As far as the second point goes, i cannot comment.

That is the only benefit of doubt i can give to my conclusions.

If at all someone can convince that i am wrong, that is only someone who is well versed in sanskrit, and interpret them correctly, if at all the contents of that book is wrong.

The motive of this post is to invite such healthy discussions where in some knowledgeable can chance upon this and give a convincing reason.

I do not believe u can give such an answer.

Friday, November 04, 2005 8:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can say this much.

Putra is neutral. Putran and Putri are gender specific.

putrabhaava = House of children
putrakaaraka= Significator of children

That said there are also instances where putraH has been used to mean sons.

When Kings needed male progeny those days, they may have used it to mean male offsprings- today the original gender neutral meaning is more appropriate.

Let us also take note that most practical translations of ancient mantras today are targetted at what the audience want to hear. In a patriarchal society like ours the translators bias the translation for a male-favored audience (consciously or inadvertently). I see this kind of bigotted translation is more to do with the translator than to do with the mantra itself.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005 9:44:00 PM  
Blogger fieryblaster said...

though not solid, an appreciable comment with good heshyams.

Thursday, November 10, 2005 9:30:00 AM  
Blogger yengeenadhukavidhai said...

yabba, whew!! we cannot change what was written earlier (nor can i accept that what was written centuries ago is still right, maybe it was apt for that time period).

vasu, all u can make sure is that you don't do that stuff if you don't believe in it. and make sure u r children do not get into this confused loop that our generation is in !! let them have a free and more meaningful life ..

in my opinion, like the popular saying "beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder", so does the beauty of any works - art, music, writing, cinema.. i would extend that list to scriptures and religion too.. if u don't like what u see turn away.. no point in reasoning it out..

Tuesday, December 06, 2005 11:37:00 AM  
Anonymous R said...

I came over here from Hawkeye's blog. Pretty interesting... your views. I am not getting in to the rituals part, as some of the present day stuff are as corrupted as the caste system we see (which is completely perverted version of the one explained in the Gita).

But I think I can give you a different perspective on your closing statements, before the warnings.

Women in the ancient times were hardly underpriviledged. It is NOT a fact that women are looked down upon... it is one of the new fangled ideas spread around by the so called 'western experts' and the 'missionaries'. Why do you think the great wars of Ramayana and Mahabharata occured and were chronicled for us to read? Can you think of any reason involving women? The message from those is when women of a society are mistreated or insulted, destruction eventually follows. Do you disagree? The point is... all these scriptures are like lawbooks. To understand their import, one requires training under a 'properly qualified' senior, even after getting a law college degree. Getting my drift now?

Vedas are not affected by time, but their interpretations and human teachings based on that are affected. Need proof? Read the first 10 or so verses in chapter four of Bhagavad Gita. Ofcourse, this argument will help you ONLY if you do have faith in that great text.

Ok... I think I can go on and on... I will rest my case now.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005 6:40:00 PM  
Blogger fieryblaster said...

@ yengeenadhukavidhai: what is written cannot be changed, but as stated earlier, it was just written to make my own thoughts clear by getting others views.:)

@ r: the studied version of kalyana mantrams does portray women as underprivileged. when i said women were underprivileged those days, i meant the treatment given to them and not as portrayed by our veda. still, if what ever meaning that i have inferred from the read verse is correct, we have to accept with heavy heart that women were underprivileged. to argue fiercly in this topic needs more knowledge. i am confining my writing since i lack it. thanks for dropping in. btw, i can read our holy books with great faith. :)

Friday, December 30, 2005 12:39:00 AM  
Anonymous R said...

@Fieryblaster

I completely agree with the statement...

"when i said women were underprivileged those days, i meant the treatment given to them and not as portrayed by our veda."

There are so many things that are portrayed in the vedas and have been corrupted for the sake of a selfish few. Example? The present day caste system.

Rather than resign yourself in to accepting the corrupted version, it would be really worth your while to put your effort in to searching for the true import of such rituals. And I am glad that you do read the books with great faith... I would recommend you start with Srimad Bhagavad Gita.

Also, I recently heard about a book called "Iyer Weddings" by P.K. Ravindranath, I think. I read good reviews about it, though I haven't read the book by itself.

Friday, December 30, 2005 4:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Krishnan said...

Smt. Vasumathi,

Hari Om.

Good to know of your interest in Hindu customs and rituals.

To know more about marriage rituals, I would recommend the book "essence of vivaha mantras" written by Swami Paramarthananda Saraswati. The same is available from Sastraprakasika trust, Dr. Radhakrishnan Salai. Tel : 28470311.

I am a student of Sanskrit, Vedas and Vedanta and can vouch for the authenticity of the above book.

You an even meet Swami Paramarthananda to clarify any doubts or attend his regular classes. His tel no. is 24997459.

Pranams
Krishnan
s.krishnan@eim.ae

Monday, July 31, 2006 9:32:00 PM  
Blogger fieryblaster said...

@ Krishnan: Thanks a lot for that information.

Monday, July 31, 2006 11:29:00 PM  
Blogger tilotamma said...

Cho always makes such statements -- even the preface to his book reads 'Dear mr.Vasagare". why don't women read his books?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger fieryblaster said...

@ tilo: leave that general addressing. every word of his in thuglauk denotes that he is male chauvinistic. but i do not bother since he has much more admirable qualities and distinctness and this is a small thing which can be ignored graciously. afterall, we in no way are going to be affected by that attitude of his.

Thursday, August 24, 2006 11:32:00 PM  

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