Thursday, May 5, 2011


Before you ask, yes that is a picture from my wedding album. This particular ritual in the hindu marriage ceremony is known as “kanyadaan”, quite inadequately translated in English as “giving or rather gifting away of the daughter”.

The hindu vedic marriage rituals pays a lot of emphasis on this particular ceremony. It is supposed to be the highest sacrifice (maha daan); and therefore, it is believed that parents who have performed the “kanyadaan” for their daughter are relieved of all sins and attain heaven.
(Parents who have sons live longer, my brother jokes!)

What exactly the ceremony entails is that the father holds the hand of the bride, while the mother pours the holy water; the father then places his daughter’s hand in the hand of the groom, as the sacred verses are enchanted in the background.
(And so ladies and gentlemen, the official handover of the seat of power and the reigns of control from the dad to the husband happens!)

From my personal experience, I can tell you that even in fairly modern families where daughters are raised and respected as equals to sons, and the “kanyadaan” is more ceremonial for tradition-sake than actually meaning that the father will no longer have any right on the daughter (and the umbilical cord is forever cut), this is a very very emotional and somber affair during the wedding.

Even though at the back of my mind I knew I was doing this for ritual-sake only, the chants of the priests and the whole ambience – the water, the physical “giving away” - and then when I had to go and sit next to my husband instead of with “my” side of the family - and finally seeing my dad stifle his tears, I thought I’d burst with all the emotions brewing inside or just scream my head off and put a stop there and then!
(Fortunately, or unfortunately, the conformist that I am, none of that happened!)

God, why do weddings have to be so emotionally taxing and exhausting!

And that is precisely the point of this post. Why can’t culture and tradition adapt to the current times. Why go through the elaborate rituals when most of them make little practical sense in the world today, wherein girls are brought up to be as independent as their male counterparts and there is no real need for her to be “taken care of, provided and sheltered” by one man or the other!

C’mon, not that I obeyed my dad to the T before marriage that I need to now “obey” my husband instead. And just because I am married, doesn’t mean dad and mom will mean any less than what they have always meant!

If I am blessed with a daughter, I am not sure I will do this kind of an elaborate and dramatic "kanyadaan” at her wedding, not even for custom-sake. Would you?


  1. then Indian wedding would disappear soon .... :( ..

  2. Will ask you your opinion after you go thru your wedding :)

  3. I think its jsut tradition, i have seen couple in marriage do rituals without even knowing whats going on..

    as long as the two treat each other as they want to be treated themselves life would be fine ...

    Agree with you on the Obey thing


  4. nice piece... it'a tradition. after many years you'll re-collect all the myriad emotions u experienced during the kanyadaan and bask in the nostalgia. :-)

  5. i think it is mere a tradition now..infact nowadays it is said if you get yur son married you gift him to a woman :P

  6. I wrote a small post as comment and Blogger ate it!

    Now will take sometime and write it back!

  7. post more pics of ur wedding. i have never seen a hindu wedding in my life. last year I went to a fren's weding but unfortunately a big fight between the two families broke out and we had to ran away from there.. LOL

  8. @Bikram and AJ: yeah, but I cud maybe do without the emotional turmoil :)

    @Anamika: lol, that's also true!

    @Sameera: oops, will wait for it!

    @A.K.: wow! that is some experience!

  9. The dialogues during the kanyadaan are also not exactly progressive.

    I too didn't want this ceremony at my wedding and had my husband's full support, but finally didn't quite realise when it happened, in all the finery and fatigue (and inertia). I agree no point getting married in a way where half the ceremony is just that - mere ceremony.

  10. Oh Wow. I just wrote a poem about this. I feel about this issue exactly as you do. It is an embarrasing, obsolete practice that gets on my nerves.

    1. read a few of your poems - u write very well!


I appreciate you taking out the time to share your valuable opinions! They mean a lot!


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