Hindu Wedding Ceremony
A wedding is an occasion where two individuals are joined in matrimony. Traditions and customs differ greatly between societies, religions, ethnic groups, and regions. Matrimonial rituals vary depending on the age and social status of the bride and groom, their families, their friends, and the region they live in. The wedding rituals practiced by some cultures can even be traced back to Ancient Greece. Today, these cultural practices are still widely practiced by the Indian, Pakistani, and Kashmiri cultures as well as the Arab and Latin American cultures.
While there is no written word on when exactly the wedding ceremony began, it is believed that the wedding ceremony started sometime around 4500 BC in Egypt. Evidence has been found to suggest that the two individuals who got married were not related to each other and that their union was an event brought about by mutual love, not lust. This would make the practice of wedding rituals a much more customized one for both the bride and groom. This custom has evolved into today’s modern wedding ceremonies where the dowry, which is the dowry/gift that the bride and groom exchange before marriage, is given to the bride’s family instead of the groom’s.
In the past, the wedding vows given to each other were not very elaborate considering the limited knowledge of the then people. However, as time went by, along with civilizations, new ideas and customs were introduced. To start off with, wedding vows that we use today included phrases such as “I do now believe”, which means that the individual has completely taken into consideration his or her decision to marry and that he or she believes so wholeheartedly in the wedding that nothing can stop him or her from going through with the marriage. Thus, wedding vows became an expression of one’s heartfelt faith in the marriage.
In the Roman Catholic Church, wedding vows started off as what they call “I Dos”, which means “I Decide”, which basically meant that the bride only had the choice to marry him. From there the trend changed to “I Do As I Am”, which means that the person giving the wedding vows has fully comprehended the commitment involved and has decided on all aspects of the wedding ceremony and has chosen to go ahead with it. It is not uncommon for a Catholic wedding ceremony to have a rosary or special prayer that has been written out specifically for the couple. The couple also makes use of specific wording that has been prescribed by the church. These wedding customs developed out of the desire to maintain a strictly chaste wedding and to avoid any form of worldly distractions from occurring during the ceremony.
In certain Hindu wedding ceremonies, the wedding vows are said in Sanskrit, which is a Sanskrit language. A lot of people, who are of the Hindu faith, have adopted the practice of reading the wedding vows out loud. However, it has been suggested that this should not be done. Some Hindu scholars argue that reading the wedding vows aloud will detract from the true nature of the celebration. The couple can also read their wedding vows silently to each other, taking particular care to note all the blessings and wishes that are spoken to them during the reading. In some communities, the wedding vows are recited silently in a spirit of devotion and thanksgiving.
While traditional Hindu weddings incorporate a lot of traditional rituals and customs, the current trends do include the use of “I Dos”. In the United States, this is where the groom addresses his bride before the wedding ceremony, saying I do means I pledge to her. This is now an accepted practice in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia, although in some cultures this is still avoided due to possible Hindu backlash. Some other customs that are seen at a Hindu wedding include the exchange of garlands as a sign of good will between the bride and the groom, the putting of rose petals on the bride’s feet, exchanging rings and the giving of wedding gifts to both the bride and groom.