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Monday, October 25, 2021

Times of India article denigrates Hindu wedding rituals

The Manyavar Ad attracted huge backlash for its uninformed commentary on the Hindu wedding ritual of Kanyadaan. However, much before the release of the festive wear brand’s commercial, the Times of India (ToI) featured a similar piece, denigrating several rituals of the Hindu Vedic wedding.

After Hindu religious occasions, like Diwali, Shivratri, Holi, now the social rituals followed by the Hindus have become the target of the anti-Hindu establishment. One such social occasion is the Vedic wedding of the Hindus, rituals of which have been vilified several times in recent times by critics with questionable intellectual capacity.

TOI targets Hindu wedding rituals

In most cases, the foot soldiers of such anti-Hindu propaganda are individuals from the Hindu community who are actually HINOs (Hindus in name only). Like Debomitra Das of The Times of India, who has demanded a ban on several Indian Marriage customs. In this derogatory article, Debomitra points out several rituals of the “Indian wedding” system that she has found objectionable enough to be banned – that is a strong demand.

However, it is worth noting that all the rituals she has cornered out are from the Hindu faith. Hindu weddings are not the only weddings happening in this country; being a secular country, Bharat hosts Christian, Muslim, Parsi weddings as well. Why did the article not point out a single ritual in these non-Sanatani weddings?

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The Kanyadaan becomes the first target of Debomitra Das, who exposes her ignorance about the very ritual with her laughable content. No, Kanyadaan is not what Das alludes to. We have explained the meaning and significance of Kanyadaan in detail in a previous article.

Now we would like to ask the author if she wants Kanyadaan to be banned for the reasons cited by her in a similar manner should she not demand a ban on the ritual of “Giving away the bride” in Christian weddings? Is a bride something to be given away?

wedding

Das also believes that the ritual of Bidaai is unacceptable. However, she does not clarify why it is “unacceptable”? That is what people of half-baked knowledge do. The practice of throwing back the rice to her mother’s lap is not just “repaying the debt”. It is the daughter, raised by the family, wishing for the prosperity of her parental home and hoping that everyone stays well-fed, while she steps out to build a family of her own. The rice, or puffed rice, coming from “dhaan” is a sign of prosperity that she showers her sobbing mother with.

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Das has issues with Kashiyatra as well. We must note that Kashiyatra is just a fun event like the custom of hiding the shoes of the groom and then making the groom pay a hefty amount for it. It is just another fun ritual in which the groom is stopped at the door while his bride is waiting inside.

It is actually a ritual to explain the importance of the grihastha ashram. Kashi Yatra is an enactment of folklore where a groom is abandoning family life to embrace sainthood, and a learned, experienced man (his would-be father-in-law) stops him and educates him about the advantages of family life, and asks him to marry his daughter, to which the groom agrees. What is so appalling in this fun event?

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Like the Kashiyatra, there is another fun activity of pot balancing that needs to go in the author’s opinion. The activity is meant to showcase how astute is the bride in household chores, which in the olden days was a thing to take pride in. These days it is just a ritual that everyone, including the bride, enjoys.

Similarly, in Bengali wedding rituals, the bride is given a live fish to hold and hold it firm. Her grabbing the fish by the neck shows how perfectly she would keep her husband in control. Why does not Miss Das find this “keeping the husband in control” by grabbing fish by the neck, offensive?

Talking about Bengali weddings, one thing she does find offensive is the mother-in-law staying back at home and not attending the wedding, because “it will harm the wedding.” It was traditionally so because the mother of the bride was attending to the guests, watching over money and jewelry, while the father was at the wedding, performing Kanyadaan. If the money went missing, then it would logically usher problems in the wedding house.

On the other hand, the mother of the groom is at home attending to the guests that have arrived to attend the reception. The groom’s mother is the one who does the “Badhu Baran” in Bengali households and to prepare for the same, she needs to be present in the house. Again, these rituals were made in the times when there were no fast vehicles like we have today. Transportation across villages was not easy.

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Das cites the tradition of washing the feet of the groom’s family by the parents of the bride. This ritual dates back to the times when the groom’s family would walk on foot for miles and hours before reaching the venue. Not out of compulsion, but out of hospitality, their tired feet were washed by the owner of the house itself. It is not taboo in a culture that teaches, “Atithi Devo bhava” and in a land where Bhagwan Shri Krishna, a King washed the feet of his friend Sudama when he arrived at his doors. This ritual is anyway extinct today, hence why is Das beating a dead snake?

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Debomitra also wants to do away with the Haldi ceremony because it is “unhygienic”. The fact that the Haldi is first applied to the groom and then applied to the bride is just symbolic. The amount of Haldi put on a bride during the Haldi ceremony cannot (and is not) be scrapped from the groom’s body. Further, Haldi is an antiseptic, so Miss Das need not worry. The generation that would go around sharing one piece of birthday cake through 5 friends, “because it is a western ritual and hence cool” finds the Haldi ceremony unhygienic?  

The next point, marrying a tree or a dog, is not even a part of the Vedic or Bharatiya wedding system. Some may have practiced it guided by local beliefs or astrologers, but this has no Vedic validation and is an exception more than a norm. As per the Hindu belief, it is preferred that a Manglik person is married only to another Mangalik person, and this applies to both men and women – no gender bias there.

Article ignores derogatory non-Hindu wedding practices

Talking about wedding rituals of other religious communities in Bharat, there is a concept of Mahr in Islamic marriages according to which the groom gets the bride in marriage in exchange for a payment. Another ritual in Islamic marriages is the Halala which demands a woman, after being given divorce by her husband, has to marry another man, consummate the marriage, and only then will she be eligible to marry her divorced husband, whether or not she wants to marry the second man and spend a night with him.

Also, the white gown of the Christian wedding represents the bride’s virginity, aka “purity”, and ritualistically no one else in the wedding except the bride should wear white? Talk about disparaging a woman!

Again, Parsis are required to marry people from the Parsi community only, and if they marry outside, the couple is made to face the ire of the entire community. But neither Times of India nor assorted writers with half-baked knowledge have the courage to point these flaws out.

Was Debomitra or ToI not aware of these rituals or was it too risky to point the degeneracy in these pre-medieval rituals and orthodoxy?

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