Tuesday, 11 March 2008


I recently visited my friend’s daughter’s betrothal rite. During the prenuptial or engagement ceremony conducted at the prospective bride’s home, a Brahmin priest presides over the solemn occasion attended by the invited guests and family members from both the parties to the marriage. However, the prospective groom is not required to be present at this betrothal ceremony and represented by his father, who comes accompanied by close relatives, mostly male members of the kindred. According to the predetermined auspicious day and time, as per the Hindu almanac; the promise of marriage is announced and sanctified through the prescribed rituals. The actual marriage date is fixed latter in consultation with the family priests of both the families, most suitable to unite the two souls forever.
As per the sacred tradition of the Hindus, the elephant god and lord of benevolence and abundance, Ganesh is worshipped followed by the local presiding deities of the villages to seek their blessing for success. The attending priest than sacred podium and arranges for sacrosanct fire to burn to appease Lord Agni, the god of fire. While doing the Mandapa Pratistha, the vegetation are also paid due obeisance as a sign of fecundity and fullness of life. The nine celestial divine planets believed to be the controller of the destiny of mankind are simultaneously appeased to bestow upon the prospective bride and groom with good fortune and to protect them. This is known also as Graha Shanti rite. With the continuous chanting of Vedic mantras required on this sacred occasion, the formal announcement is made about the sealing of the relationship. As per the tradition, the prospective groom’s family presents gifts like gold ornament, Saris, make-up and other minor utilities, etc. and a token amount of cash having only titular and ritualistic meaning to the prospective bride who remains present during the performance of the rituals along with her father and other family members. After she accepts the gifts, the betrothal ceremony comes to an en after all the guests are treated with sumptuous meals cooked for the special occasion.