(Last Updated on : 15/12/2012)
In India, the wedding rituals and traditions are mainly based on religion or society. The community only decides the kind of wedding ceremony that a couple would have. The Arya Samaj people in India don't believe in the grand and elaborate rituals of the Hindu wedding function. For them who are not so particular about their religion and community a special community wedding is conducted that is not so strict in its rituals and customs but also based on particular Vedic rites and rituals.
An Arya Samaj wedding can also be blended with any other Hindu community wedding. Swami Dayanand Saraswathi founded that Arya Samaj and the weddings in this society are performed according to the Vedic rites. According to the belief the Arya Samaj conducts weddings only for Hindus, but in case of non-Hindus who want to have an Arya Samaj wedding can get married according to the Arya Samaj traditions. In these types of marriages, they have to be transformed through a practice called 'Shuddhi' meaning purification.
The Arya Samaj wedding ceremony is performed in front of the fire along with other elements as the witnesses. They don't believe in idol worshipping. In an Arya Samaj wedding the mantras are translated into a language that the couple can understand, thus making the wedding ceremony all the more special as the couple can relate themselves to the meaning and significance of the wedding mantras.
This wedding is different from the customary Hindu wedding in the sense that it does not involves elaborate rituals and the ceremony not for a long period of time. Simplicity is the central spirit of Arya Samaj wedding. The wedding ceremony lasts for an hour or so and the wedding expense is very low as compared to the usual traditional Hindu wedding.
The main rituals of the Arya Samaj weddings are as follows:
- This is the ritual, where the bride and the groom arrive at the venue of the wedding and the groom partakes of 'Madhuparka'. It is a mixture of honey, curds and cream. The bride offers the groom water three times, which he sprinkles on his feet, over his body and drinks it the third time. Similarly, the groom also follows this ritual. This ritual denotes the announcement of their journey into a happy married life.
The ritual of kanyadaan is the one in which the parents of the bride gives away their daughter's hand in marriage to the groom. Havanv is the ritual where the wedding is fixed in front of the Agni or holy fire, which is considered to be life. The priest chants the mantras appealing for blessing. In the Pani Grahan Sanskar the groom takes the bride's hands in his and chants mantras thus promising to be beside her in times of need and look after all her requirements. Than there are rituals like Shilarohan, Lajahom, Parikrama, and Saptapadi, which are later followed. Lastly the ritual ends with the Aashirwaad ceremony where the newly wedded couple touches the feet of elders and gets the blessing of all the elders in the family. Shilarohan is the ritual where, the brother of the bride puts her foot on a 'Shila' or the grinding stone. This is a rite restricted to the Arya Samaj weddings only.
There are a literally too many ways in which a marriage ceremony can be performed, though usually the religion/caste of the bridegroom and sometimes the bride can be different and thus it decides the kind of ceremony and the nature of rites. However, the Arya Samaj wedding is very different from the others. The wedding is conducted according to Arya Marriage Validation Act XIX of 1937 and is solemnized as per the Vedic rites. In these weddings, the pooja is not performed to any definite deity because the Samaj doesn't follow the idol worship.
One of the basic rules of the Arya Samaj is that it conducts marriages exceptionally for Hindus, since the movement's founder Maharishi Dayanand Saraswati sincerely believed Hinduism to be the 'original' religion and that conversions reflected the spread of other religions from Hinduism. If in case a couple belonging to religions other than Hinduism wish to get married under the patronage of Arya Samaj, they first have to be converted by "shuddhi".
Simplicity is the characteristic of Arya Samaj weddings. The rituals performed are the ones approved by the Vedas and the mantras are translated into the Tamil / Hindi / English and thus the couple can understand the meaning of their marriage vows. The complete ceremony lasts about an hour and the bride and groom are not to be disturbed during the ceremony. Parents and relatives running helter-skelter, priests thriving for things at the top of the voice and children running up and down the marriage platform, the all so familiar scenes from the typically chaotic Indian weddings are not seen in these marriages. Instead, a meaningful ceremony is achieved in Arya Samaj weddings. The Samaj's purohits are very flexible and they will cheerfully come and perform the wedding at any place of choice. It takes only 15 days to arrange an Arya Samaj wedding.
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