www.whyville.net Jun 13, 2005 Weekly Issue

Guest Writer

A Hindu Ceremony

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As I read a while ago in the Whyville Times, the Times Editor is getting married! He said that it was "a groovy Hindu ceremony" and that if anyone wanted to submit an article on weddings, they could do so. So, I decided to write one.

My friend at school is Hindu, and I have also been to many Hindu weddings since my mum's friend is Hindu.

A Christian wedding is quite different from a Hindu wedding in many ways. In my opinion, I think Hindu weddings are much more colorful, and have a great atmosphere. There are always lots of music, people and decorations around the time. And the food is great!

Long ago in the Hindu society, the parents of children would match up their child with a suitable husband or wife. Arranged marriages of this sort are still somewhat popular now, though in many cases the children have varying degrees of input in who they'll marry in the end.

The weddings have changed from time to time, but I am going to explain one that I went to last year. This wedding took place in London, England.

Before the wedding, even a day before, the bride, groom and their families sit together and decorate their palms and feet with 'Mahendi' (I hope that is spelled right). 'Mahendi' is a greenish liquid. When placed on your palms or feet for a few hours or overnight, the greenish liquid will solidify. When washed off, an orange or brown color appears. The color does not cover the whole of your palm; you decorate the hand with the Mahendi so it leaves behind a pattern or design.

Mahendi is very fun to do. I have had it done to me, and I even tried to do it myself, though I have not succeeded. The patterns are very complicated and do take a lot of time to create.

Also before the wedding, the hall where everything is to be celebrated is decorated with color and flowers. Sometimes in traditional weddings, in the morning the bride and groom are covered with turmeric, paste or oil, which softens the skin. The people chant, sing and hope and pray for a wonderful day.

On the wedding day, the bride wears an outstanding 'sari' or 'saree' (sometimes pronounced sharee). A sari is a piece of patterned fabric wrapped around the woman. She dresses up like a queen, and in a traditional wedding, the colors are red and white. Red symbolizes abundance and fertility, and white symbolizes purity. Usually there is also gold embroidery. The groom would also wear white.

On the day of the wedding, the groom enters first and is greeted by music and the bride's family and friends. He sits in the 'mandap' or 'madapa', a sort of canopy for the bride and groom to sit whilst being wed.

Then the bride enters the hall. She, too, is greeted by music, family and friends. The bride offers yogurt and honey to the groom as a token of purity and sweetness. The bride greets the groom by placing a garland of flowers around his neck, and the groom does the same to her. The bride then accepts her change of status -- to symbolise this, she spreads turmeric powder in her hands. The father or uncle of the bride pours sacred water to represent him giving his daughter away. This is called Kanya Danam. The groom recites some words of love to the father and bride.

A lovely part of the wedding is when the bride and groom face each other and the priest ties the bride's clothing to the groom's shirt. In modern versions, they then exchange rings, like in Christian and Western civil weddings. This tying of the clothes is called the Vivaaha.

Then the couple faces each other with words of praise, trust, love and blessings from God. As this takes place, the priest makes a fire in the middle where food from the bride is thrown in, as a kind of sacrifice and final acceptance of the bond between the two. Then the bride and groom step on a stone near the fire and say some words, which is called the Asmarohana.

Saptapadi is the most important of the stages. The bride and groom take seven steps (or four steps?) around the fire to symbolize they are man and wife, and will follow one another for all their days. In doing so, they say seven words.

After a prayer, the groom places sindhoor (red powder) on the bride's hair, showing the world that she is a married woman. Then they go to join their families, who bless them with presents.

After the wedding, the party begins! First they should eat. (Editor's Note: Not everyone is so lucky! Many brides and grooms are so busy welcoming all their guests, they never get to really sit down, let alone eat! This is true for Christian and Western civil weddings as well as Hindu ones, though I'll note that Indian weddings seem to have a lot more guests -- ours had almost 200 people!)

Indian food is usually catered, as is the cake. At the wedding that I went to, the bride and groom sat on high chairs like thrones, and had their dinner ordered for them like a king and queen!

There is also a part of the wedding when pictures are taken of the bride and groom with all the different members of the family who are there. Then there would be dancing. I think that was the most enjoyable part of the wedding I went to, and it created a great atmosphere. The lights were low, music loud, and the bride and groom first on the dance floor.

After a tiring day, the happy couple is then showered with flowers and led to the transport that take them either home to spend time with their families, or straight off to their honeymoon.

I think Hindu weddings are brilliant, maybe even better than Christian weddings! And I also hope that some Whyvillians will be able to experience a Hindu wedding, too. I thought it was great!

This is XWhyDivaX signing out...

p.s These are the websites I got my information from. (And I also hope Mr. Editor tells us about his wedding at some point! =D)



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