Kannada Brahmin Wedding Rituals
Updated: Nov 25, 2021
Rituals Before the Wedding
DEVARA SAMARADHANE: The marriage rituals are initiated through “ Punyaha Vachana” which includes pujas conducted to seek the blessings of various deities like Ganapathi, Varuna, Navagrahas and the family deity (Kula Devata). The “Naandi” deity who represents the family’s ancestors, is worshipped to seek their blessings.
HOOVILYA: The Mother Goddess is invoked through girls and women and her blessings sought by propitiating them with food, gifts and other accessories.
CHAPRA PUJE: The decorative awning (Chapra) made of coconut fronds which erected at the entrance of the house is also worshipped. This is to mark the beginning of an auspicious event.
VARAPOOJE: Varapuje is usually performed a day prior to the wedding ceremony to welcome the bridegroom and his family As the Bridegroom arrives at the venue of the wedding with his family, friends and the priest, they are welcomed by sumangalis in accordance with the Vedic rituals. The groom’s parents introduce themselves by reciting their lineage through gotra, pravara, and seek the bride’s hand in marriage for their son. The bride’s parents accept this proposal and signify their consent to give away their daughter by offering madhuparka. Wedding invitations are exchanged; the details of the auspicious lagna and muhurtham in which the bride will be given away are read out. Then, clothes, silverware and other gifts are exchanged.
RITUALS CONDUCTED ON THE WEDDING DAY
SAMAVARTANE: The bridegroom performs the samavartane fire ritual (homa)to mark his entry into grihasthashrama from brahmacharya. He seeks the blessings of Prajapathi, Pavana, Agni and Surya. Henceforth he is called a snathaka and will perform his duties to devas, pitris and society along with his wife.
GAURI POOJE: While the Bridegroom performs the Samavartana Homa and is taken for Kashi Yatre, the Bride performs “Gowri Puje” under the guidance of elderly women according to tradition. Parvati, Shiva’s consort, obtained Shiva after long and arduous Tapas. The bride prays to the Divine Mother in her avatar as Gauri so that she may remain ever devoted to her husband and be undaunted by trials and tribulations.
KASHI YATRE: In the meantime, the groom sets off to Kashi for higher studies. So the bride’s parents entreat him to stay back and pursue a righteous life, earn wealth and fulfill his material desires within the confines of wedlock and in conjunction with an able partner. The groom agrees and accepts madhuparka from the girl’s parents and returns to the venue.
ANTRAPATA: The groom awaits the arrival of the bride at the flower-bedecked mantap which is a sanctified space. The two priests hold up a white cloth as a barrier so that he may not see his approaching bride. The bride is escorted to the mantap by her maternal uncle amidst mangala vaadya, chanting of Lakshmi sthotra and stands facing the East. At the designated auspicious moment, the curtain is lowered, and the bride and groom cast their eyes on each other and put cumin seeds and jaggery on each other. The muhurtham for this event is calculated with great care as this symbolizes the moment when two families, two ancestries traced back to the saptarshis are linked forever. It also acknowledges the role of destiny in bringing the two families together. The priests recite the ancestry and chant swapna vachanas. The mantra uttered at that time has the following meaning: “Oh Bride, let not our looks be cruel; Let not my style of work cause hurt; With a harmonious feeling, let us beget brave children; Let our minds be one while praying to God; Let us live in unity and harmony with all.” Mahasankalpa and kanyadana: The Lord is witness to this marriage through the five elements (Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth) that are present in this setting. These panchabhutas become visible witnesses of the invisible Lord. The bride and the groom must live in awareness of the presence of the Lord within and around them and the power of His blessings. The father of the bride symbolically offers his daughter to the groom by pouring holy water on his daughter’s hands which are cupped by the groom’s hands. The bride is bestowed on the bridegroom for the following purposes:
· To realize the splendour of life in togetherness
· To realize the law of dharma, righteousness
· To experience life in all its dimensions
· To perpetuate humanity by begetting virtuous children.
The groom promises his father-in-law that he will not transgress
the bounds of dharma, artha and kama and will conduct his married
life within the dictates of dharmic conduct.
KANKANA BANDHANA: Brahmins well versed in the Vedas chant certain mantras as they pass a ball of holy thread four to five times among themselves so as to create a sacred circle around the bride and groom. The essence of the mantras permeates the thread. This is then tied around the bride and groom's wrists to protect them and they are now considered the embodiment of Lakshmi and Narayana.