all about kanyadan rituals

Kanyadaan – All About the Ritual and Its Significance

The ritual of Kanyadaan which is performed during a Hindu wedding ceremony is emotional for both the bride and her parents. But, how much do we know about this ritual, where it came from, and if it is still being followed today? Read on to know more.

The word “Kanyadaan” in Sanskrit means to “give away the daughter.” During this ritual, the parents of the bride place the hand of their daughter in the hands of the groom as a symbol of giving away.

Though most of us see the ritual of Kanyadaan through weddings we attend or via shows or movies, not all of us understand the meaning behind it. When was Kanyadaan started, why do we follow this ritual in Indian weddings, and what is the history behind it? There are many such questions that we will try and understand.

Let us know to try and comprehend what the ritual Kanyadaan is about.

History Behind the Ritual

Each and every ritual performed in Indian weddings have been passed down from generation to generation. However, if we look at the ancient texts or Vedas, there is no mention of Kanyadaan there.

During the olden days or even as per Vedas, the bride’s consent was of utmost importance during marriage and choosing the groom. Just a look at Hindu mythology and we can see examples of “Swayamvar” where the bride chooses the groom and there was no mention of “Kanyadaan” anywhere.

The mention of the ritual can be seen in the Manu smriti texts and it was considered a new ritual. Hinduism gradually accepted these texts and started following the teachings in them, including the ritual of Kanyadaan. As per these texts, a woman needs a male guardian for her wellbeing. So, when she was unmarried her father was the guardian, and her well-being and responsibility get carried over to her husband post-wedding.

Kanyadaan is not only an important ritual based on the Manu Smriti texts, but is quite an emotional moment for the whole family. It is also said that “Kanyadaan” is one of the greatest gifts the groom is given by the father of the bride.

What is the meaning behind Kanyadaan?

Though the name itself explains what the ritual means, there is a hidden meaning behind the same. During Hindu weddings, the bride and groom are considered to be the form of Goddess Laxmi and Lord Vishnu. The bride’s parents thus take part in the auspicious union of the bride and groom through Kanyadaan.

Also, the ritual symbolizes that the parents of the bride have accepted the groom to be their son-in-law. As per some texts, it means that the parents of the bride are requesting the groom to accept their daughter as his wife, and hand her over to him. By doing so, the father hands over the well-being and responsibility of his daughter to his son-in-law.

How is the ritual of Kanyadaan done?

This ritual happens right after another ritual called Varmala (this is a ritual where the bride and groom exchange garlands). During Kanyadaan, the bride’s father places the right hand of the bride in the right hand of the groom. The father’s palm is placed over his daughter’s hand.

The bride’s mother then pours sacred water on the palm of the father, which flows from his hand, to his daughters and then to the groom’s hand. While this procedure goes on, the pandits chant veda mantras.

While this is the standard procedure followed in many Hindu weddings, there can be a few diversions based on the tradition or the ceremony method followed. In a few weddings, coconut or betel leaf is placed on the right hand of the bride, and milk is poured instead of sacred water. Thought it can differ based on the community, the essence, the emotion and the reason behind the ritual remains the same. Post this ritual the other rituals of the wedding ceremony continue.

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