Kannada Marriage Tradition

Introduction

India is a Hindu predominant country and is a land of unity and diversity. The convergence of different cultures and traditions on one single platform is the unique identity of the nation.

People belonging to various religious communities and races live peacefully in India. People from Karnataka have their own cultural and regional significances.

The Kannada wedding tradition is one of the unique marriage traditions in India. In performance, Kannada marriage resembles the traditional Hindu marriage. However, the customs and rituals observed highlight the typical essence of the region of Karnataka. The Kannada weddings hold up simple yet sophisticated marriage rituals. This provides ample opportunity to the families to enjoy the occasion. Given below are the wedding rituals of a Kannada wedding.

Pre-wedding rituals

Nandi: This ritual guarantees peaceful marriage events without any untoward incidents, for instance death on either side. The first wedding invitation card is presented to the Lord and he is also paid obeisance by performing aarti, and offering a kalash and a coconut.

Kaashi Yatra: The ritual has some essence of humor as it is more of an act of pretence. The groom decides that since nobody is bothered about his marriage, he should attain sannyasa (renunciation). The groom thereby declares Brahmacharya and acts as if he is leaving for Kaashi. He carries along with him a dhoti, an umbrella, a fan and a coconut, a walking stick, a pouch of rice and dal. Meanwhile, his maternal uncle interrupts and presents the bride he has chosen for him.

Dev Karya: The ritual takes place on the arrival of the groom’s family at the village or the place where the marriage is going to occur. All the goods required and readied for the marriage are placed before Lord Ganesha and the Lord’s blessings are sought by both parties. Then starts the auspicious ‘Haldi’ ceremony and a sacred turmeric paste is applied to both the bride and groom. Grinding ‘uddin murth’ grains is also considered auspicious during this event. On reaching the marriage venue, the groom and his entourage are welcomed with grand aarti. It is performed by a number of sumangalis (married women), before leading the groom’s party towards the wedding hall.

Mandap Puja: The marriage ceremony is inaugurated with Mandap Puja. The puja is conducted to attain the virtue of the Mandap (marriage hall) where the nuptial ceremonies will take place. At first, the Var Puja is conducted where the groom is welcomed at the Mandap and a ceremonial washing of his feet is performed by his to-be parents in law. He is thereafter offered a silk dhoti and pitambar for the marriage ceremony. Meanwhile, the bride’s face is covered with peacock to protect her from the evil eyes.

Garlanding ceremony: In the Kannada wedding tradition, the bride’s uncle escorts her to the Mandap. The bride and the groom then stand facing each other with a piece of white cloth stretched between them. At this time, a sacred wedding mantra called ‘Mangalashtam’ is recited. After this ritual the cloth is taken away and they could now see each other’s face following which the garland ceremony takes place. After this ceremony, the groom’s sister is given the responsibility of holding the kalash of sacred water comprising betel leaves, Kombu Gindi and coconut water.

Dhare Herdu (Giving away of the bride): This is an emotional ceremony when the bride is officially given away to the groom by her parents. On a symbolic note, bride’s palm is placed on that of the groom’s by them. The groom embraces the bride’s palm along with betel leaves and coconut. The bride’s father ritually pours water onto the groom’s palm. It is suggestive of ‘dhara’, meaning the bride now belongs to the groom. Puffed rice is offered to the Holy Fire (Agni) for five times, following which the saptapadi (seven pheras) begins.

Kanyadana mantras

Important Kanyadana or giving away of the bride mantras are as follows-

कन्यादानम्

ॐअनृक्षरा ऋजवः सन्तु पंथा य़ोभिः सखाय़ो यंति नो वरेयम्।

समर्यमा सं भगो नो निनीयात् सं जास्पत्यं सुयमस्तु देवाः॥

क इदं कस्मा समिद्रमाविश कामेन त्वा प्रतिगृह्णामि कामैतत्ते वृष्टिरसि द्यौस्त्वा ददातु पृथिवी प्रतिगृह्णातु॥

At the end of Kanyadana ceremony, these mantras are recited.

ॐहिं॒कृ॒ण्व॒ती व॑सु॒पत्नी॒ वसू॑नां व॒॒त्समि॒च्छन्ती॒ मन॑सा॒भ्यगा॒त्।

दु॒हाम॒श्विभ्यां॒ पयो॑ अ॒घ्न्येयं सा व॑र्धतां म॒हते सौभ॑गाय ॥

ॐवन॑स्पते श॒तव॑ल्शो॒ विरो॑ह स॒हस्र॑वल्शा॒ वि व॒यं रु॑हेम।

यं त्वाम॒यं स्वधि॑ति॒स्तेज॑मानः प्रणि॒नाय॑ मह॒ते सौभ॑गाय॥

ॐइंदु॑र्दे॒वाना॒मुप॑ स॒ख्यमा॒यनूत्स॒हस्र॑धारः पवते॒ मदा॑य।

नृभिः॒ स्तवा॑नो॒॒ अनु॒ धाम॒ पू॒र्वमग॒न्निद्रं॑ मह॒ते सौभ॑गाय॥

ॐअ॒स्य पिब॑ क्षु॒मतः॒ प्रस्थि॑त॒स्येंद्र॒ सोम॑स्य॒ वर॒मासु॒तस्य॑।

स्व॒स्ति॒दा मन॑सा मादयस्वार्वाची॒नो रे॒वते॒ सौभ॑गाय॥

ॐघृ॒तदुर्लु॑प्तं॒॒ मधु॑मत्सु॒वर्णं॑ धनंज॒यं ध॒रुणं॑ धारयि॒ष्णुः।

ऋ॒णक्स॒पत्नां॒ दध॑रांश्चकृ॒ण्वदारो॑ह॒ मां म॑ह॒ते सौभ॑गाय॥

ॐतद॑स्तु मित्रावरुणा॒ तद॑ग्ने॒ शं योर॒स्मभ्य॑मि॒दम॑स्तु श॒स्तम्।

अ॒शी॒महि॑ गा॒धमु॒त प्र॑ति॒ष्ठां नमो॑ दि॒वे बृ॑ह॒ते साद॑नाय॥

Significance of Saptapadi

During Saptapadi, the bride follows the groom’s footsteps circumambulating the Holy Fire for seven times. The bride’s pallav and the groom’s angavastram are tied with the matrimonial knot.

सप्तपदीः

इष एकपदी भव सा मामनुव्रता भव।पुत्रान्विदावहै बहूंस्ते सन्तु जरदष्टयः॥

ऊर्जे द्विपदी भव सा मामनुव्रता भव। पुत्रान्विदावहै बहूंस्ते सन्तु जरदष्टयः॥

रायस्योषाय त्रिपदी भव सा मामनुव्रता भव। पुत्रान्विदावहै बहूंस्ते सन्तु जरदष्टयः॥

मा यो भव्याय चतुष्पदी भव सा मामनुव्रता भव। पुत्रान्विदावहै बहूंस्ते सन्तु जरदष्टयः॥

प्रजाभ्यः पंचपदी भव सा मामनुव्रता भव। पुत्रान्विदावहै बहूंस्ते सन्तु जरदष्टयः॥

ऋतुभ्यः षट्पदी भव सा मामनुव्रता भव। पुत्रान्विदावहै बहूंस्ते सन्तु जरदष्टयः॥

सखा सप्तपदी भव सा मामनुव्रता भव। पुत्रान्विदावहै बहूंस्ते सन्तु जरदष्टयः॥

जीवपत्नी प्रजां विदेय।

The groom gets up from the chair embracing the right hand of the bride. He circumambulates the Holy Fire starting from the right side and by lifting, step by step, the bride’s right feet. This ritual is performed in all seven steps. In each step, he recites a mantra addressing the bride. The mantra interpretation is as follows –

Let Lord Maha Vishnu accompany you in each of your steps for the following seven purposes.

Step 1: To give you abundant food.
Step 2: To give you vibrant health and energy.
Step 3: To give you strength for performing your vrithas (rituals), as enacted in Vedas.
Step 4: To give you harmony and happiness in life.
Step 5: To make your cows and other animals grow in good strength and numbers.
Step 6: To make all the seasons favorable to you.
Step 7: To perform obstacle-free sacrifices in Holy Fire (homams), as mentioned in Vedas.

The reason behind following the above ritual is to seek blessings of Lord Vishnu, the protector of this universe.

Mangalsutra and Okhli ceremonies

Five sumangalis (married women) tie the holy thread or Mangalsutra while the groom holds it around the bride’s neck. Following this ceremony the newlywed couple seek blessings of the elders and priests.

In Kannada weddings, the game of Okhli is also played with the groom’s wedding ring submerged in a pot filled with colored water. As per the tradition, the bride and her brother chase the ring thrice in the pot.

Post-wedding rituals

Vidaai ceremony is a tearful farewell of the bride. She departs from her maiden home and enters her in-laws’ home. The bride’s parents shower their daughter with many gifts. Articles including utensils, an umbrella, cot and other necessary items are also gifted for her new home.

The bride enters her new home and this ritual is called Graha Pravesh. Before entering her new place she kicks a kalash (metal pitcher), full of rice, with her right foot. This intends that her entrance is bound to bring wealth and prosperity to her new family. The bride opens a new chapter of her life and the name changing ceremony takes place. The groom decides on a new auspicious name for his bride which he inscribes on a plate of rice using a ring

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