During this difficult time of Corona virus outbreak, how can we as women cope better and support each other? Check our special feed and learn more!

Daughters Are Not Objects : Does The Practice Of Kanyadaan Serve Any Purpose?

Posted: November 18, 2014

With changing times, rituals must change too. Does the practice of Kanyadaan (where the daughter is ‘given away’ to the groom’s family) serve any purpose in today’s society? 

Marriage: an institution that is universal and defines human society, saving it from promiscuity and randomness. Its definition and importance as a practical and logical set-up to function as a seed of family is undeniable. These aspects of marriage are absolute, but what poses itself as a question is its setting in the Hindu society and culture, and its undisputed continuance.

Hindu marriage, with its rituals and ceremonies of the Vedic age, was relevant in the social circumstances of those times. Girls were married off before attaining puberty, and hence the ritual “Kanyadaan”. The responsibility of a girl was completely transferred to the family she was married into. A couple used to have many children. Hence, there was a social, moral, and economic balance within families, coupled with an emotional sensitivity that was of give and take. Daughter-in-law for a daughter.

We proudly glorify Vedic times and practices, but when it comes to marriage, rather than just glorifying, we are keeping the system intact. Vedic practices have this unfortunate fact associated with them, we forgot the good ones and kept the ones that are redundant.

Vedic practices have this unfortunate fact associated with them, we forgot the good ones and kept the ones that are redundant.

Marriage seems to be a customary and typical matter, other than being the very purpose of life. People write a lot about it, read a lot about it, think of it at various levels – social, economic, cultural, religious, but I find very few instances where people question its setting in the Hindu society. Denying it, and thoughts of changing it, are awfully rare.

Hindu marriage, its rituals and ceremonies, are debatable for various reasons but in this article I would be taking a key ritual – “Kanyadaan” and citing my apprehensions about it. As I mentioned earlier, Kanyadaan as a ritual was justified in the times when girls were married off at a very young age. She was gifted away by the father and he was considered to be free of all the sins, of the present life and those of the earlier ones. Fine. A condition to justify the pain of separation.

Logic? The groom was considered Vishnu and the girl the prime offering that can be made to God. Objectifying women has not been rare, and making her a gift is nothing to be surprised of as well. But what surprises me is the fact that this ritual is still in practice, unquestioned.

Changing times, unchanging rituals

Times have changed. The No-son norm is not uncommon. As feminists, we are liberal, talking of family planning, equality, rights of girls to food, clothes, education to share in property, everything! At the same time we are radical, taking of males to be the source of trouble, patriarchy to be the root of evils. But how frequently do we talk of establishing the balance? How frequently do we target the fundamental cause of inequality? That is marriage in the Hindu setting, in particular, the rituals that in the present world serve no practical purpose but have a strong moral and emotional element still attached to them.

The role of girls has changed tremendously. Household chores and child-rearing are no more their only duties.

The role of girls has changed tremendously. Household chores and child-rearing are no more their only duties. They are getting educated, contributing to family finances, taking care of their parents. Then what is the logic behind still continuing with the rituals like Kanyadaan? I strongly believe, and urge every girl who finds herself out of her traditional roles, who sees herself at par with males, that she must question these rituals, Kanyadaan in particular.

Because, this is the ritual that leads to patriarchy, defines patrilocal residence, reduces a girl to the status of a gift, which no longer belongs to the owner. There is a strong need to say no to its practice.

Many girls with whom I have talked about saying no to such rituals during their wedding have given me these reasons of not doing so:

What difference does it make?

We are anyway going to fulfil all our duties as daughters. But that is the question in the first place! If it does not make any difference than why to practice? ‘why not gracefully wear the wedding ring and complete the legal requirements of marriage ( court marriage is a good option, with later celebrations with family and friends, or taking marriage vows is not demeaning as such)?

Our families won’t agree!

A fair enough reason. We do not want to do anything that disturbs our family. But looking at the larger picture presents us with something entirely different. Parents and families earlier were not happy with their girls moving out of the town for education or job. But now they are. Earlier they could not even think of questioning dowry. But now they do.

Let’s go a bit far into history, abolishing sati system, widow remarriage etc. could not be even thought of as socially possible. Now we think of them as social evils, something we can’t even imagine the existence of, and label them as inhuman. But they were socially accepted practices earlier. People questioned them, worked relentlessly so that they could be undone. Similar is the case now. There is some initial resistance that society presents and that has to be overcome. What it needs is courage and a heartfelt desire.

What is wrong with these rituals?

This was what the article was about. I am genuinely elated that girls talk about their rights, like to stand up for them and try to prove that what they ask for is not overestimated. They prove that the change in their position in society is in turn helping the society itself to change for better. An equitable and fair society is desired and required. Questioning and shunning these rituals will serve a very strong purpose of taking away the religious and moral sanctions that come in the way of providing ourselves with the social settings that we know are logical and justified.

I talked with my parents about changing these rules for myself and I was not surprised to see that they completely agreed with my reasons. In fact, they were happy to find out that I feel the same about these rituals as they do. They too find them redundant, serving no purpose.

I talked with my parents about changing these rules for myself and I was not surprised to see that they completely agreed with my reasons.

I talked with guys about how they feel about questioning and changing these norms. Again, I was not surprised to find out that they were very positive and find these rituals superfluous and unnecessary. They were happy to accept that they have no particular desire to engage in these rituals while marrying the girl they’ll be sharing their life with.

As the season of weddings is approaching, I would urge every girl reading this article to marry on her own terms, in a way that suits her logic and presents her with the most graceful way to enter into this relationship which is the single-most perfect synonym of equality.

Pic credit: image of vidai via Shutterstock

What is Domestic Violence & How to report domestic Violence - घरेलु हिंसा से बचाव (in Hindi)



  1. Nitya , good thought 🙂 After my marriage the first advise I got was ” Now onwards this is your home”. Cant understand how people expect a girl to forget all her relations even her parents after marriage. I am not saying that in-laws relations should not be respected but not at the cost of your old relations.

    • Niyati here 🙂 Yes you are right, these primitive expectations are the reason behind all the moral trouble and feminist debate. Speaking up and speaking right is the the only way to do away with them.

    • Yes, Speaking up and speaking right is the only way but this behavior creates a lot of trouble back at home. Really a difficult task but not impossible.
      Hope to see change soon!!!

  2. Hi Nitya Sharma, I wanted to share a counter thought to your argument. During our course of evolution, men were supposed to be hunters and women happened to have a significant counterpart, the home makers/managers (sounds great) and not some idle wasted life. So it was easier and convenient for the men to stick together within their clan. And these traits continue even now, for a man its impossible to fit into another family due to his own aggressiveness, a product of his hormonal effect. But a women can fit into another family in a very remarkable way as a gift of nature. I dont find anything wrong in some of the traditions, but others yes, like dowry etc. And also if we go on eliminating every bit of tradition in the name of modernity, what is going to remain I dont know. There are gender differences and gender based feelings and so on, so without a proper psychological basis we should not foray into unknown realms. For example, what would happen if the institution of family is lost, the love and care for the children and their safety also. Is it possible for both the guy and girl’s family to stick together as it used to be during the hunter’s time? No, so one person should try to understand as well as sacrifice for the greater good and remain with elders, which is wonderful for children. In the name of western feminism if we try to reduce the family size for our own comforts (like privacy, liberty and convenience), we replace gold with something less 🙂 And please do ask children how much they love grandparents/close relatives and remember also what we are denying them. I wish voice of children are heard more than quarreling adults. Sorry if I irritated but there are also other dimensions to think.

    • I am not irritated at all. Infact I am glad you came up with your point of view. To be very frank, I can present a counter argument to every single thought you have presented here. But I just want to say that questioning is not revolting. It is a way to reach to some logical conclusion. Labelling every argument in favour of girls as feminist and rejecting it in name of westernisation is not a solution to the widespread injustice towards women. Also, I feel doing away with rituals like kanyadaan is not going to threaten family system. And why do we feel that if a girl breaks all her bonds with her paternal home by following rituals like kanyadaan, can she be fully committed to her family and also her husband’s. Care for family is something very natural. Don’t we find cases of broken families even after following all the rituals at the time of marriage?! It is how we feel for our family and in general that is going to make the difference, not by making a girl to let lose all her previous connections to start with new ones.

    • Hi Niyati, I got your name wrong in the previous comment. Apologies for that. First of all I want to divulge a bit and let you guys know that, I (also a majority of guys) do understand how women are denied their rights in various circumstances. For example, the security issues while walking alone in the night or travelling in a bus/train, the stigma associated with going to even a tea stall in a street corner, or their expressions in public. I would actually see this as a sort of universal might equation, like the powerful trying to bully the vulnerable. Its unfair; but seems ubiquitous. Men are also victims in this cycle but in a different way (like what a non smoking guy feels around regular smokers, or even the discrimination that guys face due to their gender, right from school corporal punishments to denial of a life boat in Titanic, yes we guys do face discrimimation). Its a societal corruption and in our country its more of corruption in law and order enforcement rather than patriarchy. Lets try not to be cynical. But yeah! It needs guts to question! But is there an element of morality involved in the process. Because today I see quite a few women frantically crying out for rights that range from a pair of Jeans to ridiculing virginity. Frankly speaking, majority of us (both Indian men and women) are skeptical about your goals and we feel the same about westernized living. Do you guys get the feel of real empowerment of women only when its measured against the yardsticks of masculinity? Common! Are there really not any feminine trait at all that needs to be glorified and not just a ‘compete with the males’ attitude? I heard a women’s day quote ‘Why should men have all the fun’ 🙂 We should strive for a sensible equality Eg: Maternity leaves or reservation for underpriviledged. Let me be straight forward! What is a feminine power, a women who brings up her children working in 20 different houses against all odds or an anglicized women technocrat who works for some millioinaire. Of course your career is your right. But begetting children is NOBLE. That’s why we value our mothers more than anything else in the world. Its upto you to prioritize. Don’t dilute childrearing or at least don’t underestimate women who deem it important. They say a women becomes complete only with motherhood, I think its valid biologically as well as emotionally. Well! I don’t have more to say! I wish to see feminity as itself and not forcibly andromorphed. Chhheeeeeers! I Feel missiles already in launching pads 🙂

    • I would like to add a point..The ritual “Kanyadaan” is actually the reason of all the bias women are facing today.Because it means,that you are gifted by your parents .As you are gifted,your parents are expected not to have any expectations from you.This system has made it mandatory to have a son who will bear the social responsbility of taking care of his parents.A girl can just visit them and socially,she has no such strict responsbility as she has already gifted herself.Her family is someone else’s family.If this is the truth than we should not blame parents for female foeticide cases etc.Family system is definitely important but it is necessary to take care of both the families of both the sides in the same manner

    • Joe, if women start asserting themselves, does it imply they are out to break the institutions of marriage and family? And what is western feminism or eastern feminism? Sharing my blog post, do read and understand my pov
      that men and women complement each other, they should not need to compete against each other. And do try to explain to us why should it be always a woman who has to make all the sacrifices in the family?

    • Hi Seema, its all about where we leave it a little loose and where we hold it tight. Prioritization. Do we mind giving it up a little for our workplace boss? So it requires strategies to put first things first. Male identity has evolved with millions of years of conditioning. Is it possible to renew it so easily? Takes effort and time. Is it so hard to accept a male as the head of the family (Let him have the Indian presidents power)? 🙂 You be the priminister. Just a random thought.

    • Hi Joe, thanks for the reply. I agree with you about the social conditioning of men from centuries. But then women have also been conditioned to believe that they are meant only for caretaking roles. While some women are aggressive and impatient about getting their rights, and adopt some weird ways to snatch them, most of us do realize that things will not change in a jiffy. Both men and women need time to recover from their conservative ideas, and in the meanwhile, we can surely get rid of some obsolete symbolism, can’t we? Or is it too much to ask for?

    • No, it is not too much to ask for. And thanks for the warm support Seema. There is a dire need of women who don’t give up on their logic and reasons.
      To Joe I can just say that we are not here to harm the society, we are infact here to make the patriachal systems and institutions more encompassing and equitable. You are a voice of patriarchy and resistance, which is natural but which is not necessarily required. Try to support the change, talk about this to your mother/sister/daughter/wife and I guess you will get a similar response. Why to indulge in rituals or anything that is redundant and just a moral sanction to seperation. Cutting the roots of a plant is not going to make it greener. So, cheers! 🙂

  3. I personally feel that all the rituals that we are asked to perform are a kind make beliefs that help the girl and the boy to internalize the fact that they are married and the girl has to accept the other world as her own. Coming to the point of Kanyadaan, though i am not yet married, keeping apart the vedic concept i feel its an emotional phase we all relish. In most case I have taken my friends opinions they sat that protesting against dowry is justified but kanyadaan it enhances the emotinal bonding so can be retained as a part of our tradition.

    • You would relish being ‘donated’ to a man, just another human being! And /kanyadaan enhances the emotional bonding/…..does it not tantamount to the bonding being one sided? And gives control of your life to another person? Why do we need such symbols of male superiority? Life can still be beautiful with love between husband and wife….without any orthodox symbolism….and that will be true emotional bonding…from both sides.

  4. It’s really pleasant to talk to you guys. To Seema I would like to say that women empowerment is very necessary, but practically based on science and that would give stability. We have to reach a balance and I like your blog which said men and women are complementary so no need to compete.
    Coming to cessation of outdated practices, I think British rule in India has done away with most social evils like sati, devadasi, or lower caste women’s right to cover their upper part and many recent changes stems from that, like abolishing female infanticide, dowry and widow remarriage. So if you want to give credit do it first to them.
    Similarly an Indian man Periyar E.V.R (Tamil Nadu) could be considered a genuinely noble thinker. His thoughts were more advanced than even any of our contemporary feminists and he was very very influential also. Like, 60 years ago he said women’s virginity is her right and not men’s and he even said Saree inhibits a women’s progress I don’t think any other big shot said that in India(then at least). As such, Periyar introduced a marriage system where there is no Brahmin involved or no Vedic rituals or any other religions’ influence. The nuptial process would be the consenting adult couple getting married in front of witnesses and loved ones all in convenient timings and not Muhurtham. And that’s it, the marriage is over, probably a wedding feast would follow. Interestingly even now there are many who follow it, its called ‘Seerthirutha thirumanam’ meaning reformed marriage. And Niyati, I would love to introduce you to Periyar and his lofty thoughts and you must know him. Great men were always for justice. And you calling me rooted in patriarchical resistance, I would like to tell you just one thing I have my individuality and I take thoughts from any one, provided its sensible enough. And regarding the assignment you suggested me, I can ask only my mom and I don’t have the other category of women (wife and daughter) yet 🙂 But can assure you one thing my mom would not persist on words of feminism but would rather insist in justice being served. I can tell this because she worked in a hospital and I have seen her extremely bold. In fact she handles people based on their personality and not based on gender. But she marked her boundaries which I found perfectly sensible and beautiful. So women in our homes are regarded highly, and ours is an informal patriarchy though 🙂 All I insist is everyone is equal and in a family the responsibilities need to be respected practically. Finally and the biggest concern is Children should not suffer the absence of close relatives just because of an ego clash that my parents are away so would yours be. And to all out there, please know that a reformed marriage system exists and has been in practice but not aware of much. Why not bring attention and awareness to Periyar’s Reformed marriage ceremony.

  5. Really glad you brought up this topic. Well written.

  6. the outset, allow me to praise u for u have taken the cudgel to take the patriarchal society by storm and question the status quo. needless to reiterate the paramountcy of ur endeavour to come up with straight forward and candid views on issues which women take it for granted and never question things. the other side of the story need to be told and veritably u r doing the same. kudos!! to my mind george bernard shaw oft quoted dictum reverberates : you see things; and you say, ‘why’? but i dream things that never were ;and i say “why not” ? in the same vein it is good to ask pertinent question all the time . religious sanctions and consideration may not necessarily be the unflinching gospel in our social life. if it gets fossilized in the labyrinthine maze of time, it is always prudent to discard such regressive notion . why do we always need social reformer for emancipation of women. we must be the instrument or agent of change that we seek to see. it is impossible for the world to change for good without improving the lot of women. it is impossible for a bird to fly only on one wing. the basic tenet of equality demands no differentiation and discrimination in any form. women are no longer subservient to men. but by large the states of affairs have not changed especially in rural india. women are considered adjunct to men. rationality and logic must be our preceptor and guiding principle. anything that is inimical to the growth of human being at large must be sternly done away with. to seek refuge in vedas , manusmiti and the holy text to further perverted and throttled interest tantamount to holie than thou and hypocritical behaviour which is aboherrent and abominable. i , for one vehemently condemn such dubious and supercilious behaviour of male domination.
    well, coming to your topic which dwell upon the institution of marriage and your frontal attack of kanyadan seems plausible. but my take is that you must have brought a wide gamut of retrograde issues to forefront and present a holistic and comprehensive view. i can understand paucity of time and space do not permit u to do so. but when u r championing a cause , it should not be just selective and focus on one thing but must bring within its ambit wide range of issues- child marriage, inter caste marriage, female foeticide et al and espousing the cardinal and universal principle that one must always adhere to.
    marriage in the past aimed at three things:1. promotion of religion by the performance of household sacrifices. 2. progency , wherby the father and his ancestors were assured of a happy after life and lineage was continued; 3.and rati, or sexual gratification. Smritis recommend that while a husband should be atleast twenty a girl should be married off immediately after puberty. so philoprogenitive had hindu orthodoxy become that it was declared that a father who did not give his daughter in marriage before her first menstruation incurred the guilt of procuring abortion( considered a grave sin,worse than many kinds of murder) for every menstrual period she remained unmarried. in ancient times, such was the reasoning . the question is how relevant these notions are in contemporary times? it certainly sound preposterous. further , when i ruminate , im aghast to see that society by and large today is all the more the same. i find very amusing and befuddling logic and argument. ancient literature proclaim that a woman was thought to be naturally libidinous;(well nothing wrong with that): an unmarried girl attaining puberty would proceed to find a lover , however strictly her parents guarded her( well this may tend to be the case in present times!!); once she had lost her virginity she would become unmarriageble and the parents would have the choice of disgrace and expense of maintaining an unmarried daughter indefinitely. from the standpoint of her parents a daughter was a serious economic laibility (even to this day) and this may have encouraged the custom.
    marriage was solemnized by very complicated ceremonies, the expenses of which fell on the bride ‘s family. the ceremony was held in temporary pavilion in the courtyard of the house , bride and bridegroom would entered the pavilion separately and sat on the either side of the small curtain. to the accompaniment of sacred verses muttered by the officiating brahman the curtain was removed, and the couple saw , one another often,for the first time. the bride’s father stepped forward, and formally gave her to the groom, who promised that he would not behave falsely to her in respect of the three traditional aims of the life- piety, wealth and pleasure. next, offerings of ghee and rice were made in the sacred fire. the groom then grasped the bride’s hand while she offered grain in the fire,round which he then led her,usually with thier garments knotted together,after which she trod on a millstone. the couple then took seven steps together , the bride treading on a small heap of rice at each step, then they were sprinkled with holy water and the main part of the ceremony was completed. now if this tokenism of symbolic ethos of ritualistic hindu practice miffs u and that you feel that by these rituals women are denigrated and is derogatory then u are entilted to our opinion . not all girl would wish to see it through your prism. dont paint everthing with the same brush. my impression is that different people will view this rituals of marriage in multifaceted way rather than from one vantage point. it is rightly said that ” one man’s meat is another man’s poison.” last but not the least i would say nothing is good or bad ,but thinking make it so. these are grey areas and balanced and objective analysis is paramount without being shrouded by own’s personal viewpoint ,prejudice, experience and subjectivity of the matter. a dispassionate and cogent analysis of the issue must be done in totality. hope u take my response which i have tried to see from different dimesion, positively and in right spirit without any ism and personal opinion

  7. Marriage should be conducted without giving any daan to either of the parties. No kanyadaan and no putradaan. Why should anybody give away their son/daughter to anybody? Marriage should be a simple ceremony wherein a couple exchange garlands and rings, if need be. There should not be mangalsutra either. As regards. Vidaii ceremony, how can parents say goodbye to their loving kid ? No vidaii please. And as regards the setting up of house for the newly-weds, it would be appropriate if the couple settles in a new house so that they will have privacy of their own and both of them should take care of both their parents. In this background, there will be no saas-bahu conflicts and no subjugation of women. And not last but least, there should not be change in the surname of the bride. With this, we can expect some reduction in the number of female foeticide.
    Sandhya Anil


  9. Pratibha Mohanty -

    Yes I totally agree with the author . Kanyadaan is the root cause of all evil . We should encourage a system where both husband and wife are gifts to each other’s families . I have seen cases , where the husband doesn’t show any responsibility towards the wife’s family because he believes that only wife is a part of his family and not vice versa . It is all due to these illogical customs.

  10. someone here has even questioned rakshabandhan..accrding to vedas and very important questions raised by arjun in bhgawad gita from 1.40 till end if chapter one..now gita and vedas being eternal,have so beautifully described the matter..only intelligent people will read and contemplate on them and girls questioning over here making mockery of rakshabandhan ,totally fits in category of verses 1.40 to end..now its prime duty of men to be protectors of dharma,nation and house..to play this role they have been designed in such way ,man’s physical ,mental and emotional characteristic are totally different from women..this doesn’t mean that women can’t be saviours(but they are minority,nd this minority is not the best of same calibre to that of best among men.lets face the reality) but its on average and on macroscopic level,rakshabandhan is to honour that capablity..if men stop playing this role lets be realistic nobody can save that nation from getting perished!! women cannot do that..and small number of woman capable of doing that aren’t enough to do it..even its highly foolish to think about it..and same fact has been stated in gita from 1.40 till end..illogicalcustoms!!! really,,if something which your mind is not being able tocomprehend doesn’t mean it becomes ,illogical..
    ajñaś cāśraddadhānaś ca
    saḿśayātmā vinaśyati
    nāyaḿ loko ’sti na paro
    na sukhaḿ saḿśayātmanaḥ—4.40

    translation—But ignorant and faithless persons who doubt the revealed scriptures do not attain God consciousness; they fall down. For the doubting soul there is happiness neither in this world nor in the next.

    instead of abusing customs , it would have been better if you would have devoted time in learning vedas..but you won’tdoit ,because it will give u reflection so fall your wrong doings and illusionary concepts..and dharma doesn’t change what modern or ancient or medival women thinks about it,,they are timelss,eternal,unchaging, yeah they only create problem for themselves ,nation and end up being reason for thier own destruction,nation and alas proving what abrahmics faith feel for them to be right and becomes cause of misogyny in society..only you are responsible for your destiny..u play with dharma , it will ply with u..such kind of woman have been described in atharved chapter 3 and bhagwad gita chapter 1 in detail..and women like these will again be the cause of detorition of nation , ,its downfall and future misogyny..u have prblm with kanyadaan..what about same dharma which imposes on man duty to lay down his life for protectio of not only his woman but any woman whenver in time of crisis..remeber titanic women n children first!!!,what about same dhram which gives option of work to woman but imposes as compulion on man..and u r upset with word kanyadaan..anyways it doesn’t matter weather u like it, wht women feel about it .it will not change ,,dharmanever changes ,only number of ppl following it changes..

    yaḥ śāstra-vidhim utsṛjya
    vartate kāma-kārataḥ
    na sa siddhim avāpnoti
    na sukhaḿ na parāḿ gatim—16.23

    translation-He who discards scriptural injunctions and acts according to his own whims attains neither perfection, nor happiness, nor the supreme destination.

    men and women don’t decide their rights , they are decided by ishwar and have been revealed in vedas..in form of dharma,,
    u can’t fool god nor change his rules by writing articles and yourself deciding what are women rights..
    only last word for ppl like u , i will cite last word of supreme personality..

    yada yada hi dharmasya
    glanir bhavati bharata
    abhyutthanam adharmasya
    tadatmanam srjamy aham
    yadā—whenever; yadā—wherever; hi—certainly; dharmasya—of righteousness; glāniḥ—discrepancies; bhavati—manifested, becomes; bhārata—O descendant of Bharata; abhyutthānam—predominance; adharmasya—of irreligion; tadā—at that time; ātmānam—self; sṛjāmi—manifest; aham—I.
    Whenever and wherever there is a decline in dharma, O descendant of Bharata, and a predominant rise of adharma at that time I descend Myself.
    paritrāṇāya sādhūnāḿ
    vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām
    sambhavāmi yuge yuge

    Translation of Bhagavad Gita 4.8

    To deliver the pious and to annihilate the miscreants, as well as to reestablish the principles of religion, I Myself appear, millennium after millennium.


    • You need to read about the history of Vedas before commenting in this way. Devlok by Devdutt Pattnaik is a good book to start with as it presents a balanced point of view.

  12. Liked what you have written….changes need personal courage and a status to do it unchallanged. My father , an MA in English Literature, brother of a doctor, a scientist, a teacher, and a Prof of Sanskrit ….himself a Brigadier in the Indian Army didnot perform kanya daan for either me or my sister both marrying ARMY officers. Any murmur was not noticed and fhd panditji told to hurry up. This in the Seventies. When my mom passed away unexpectedly at age 48 daan was given to our sweeper , a loving belpful soul instead of a bunch of unknown Brahmins.
    Of ourse we can break out of the shakles….if we want to. My parents did it by not acknowledging su h rituals. It just didn’t suit them.

  13. Pingback: The Upper Caste Hindu Woman | WORDS

  14. Dr. Baburajan -

    I am father of two daughters and one of my daughters is going to get married. Logically i could not digest the concept of kanyadaan so i was just trying to know the evolvement and the traditional background. That is how i came across this article of Niyati Sharma.

    My thoughts are to you Mr. Kunal. Human in this earth is evolved over approx.1 to 2 million years. You are pointing to a text that is probably evolved about 200 BC if i am right. Anyone who does not follow that text is according to you is idiot. We believe God in general is the creator of everything and it is in everything. Then why we need to go to temple, church, mosque etc. to meet God. i do not understand why need mediator to reach God if he/she (not sure of its gender) is in everything. When i have so many questions and no clear answers and i am not sure about its existence and functions we should be polite enough to accept ‘i don’t know’ rather than assertive. Belief is an individual choice and it should not be forced upon others. My belief should not harm or disturb others. We do not know why we are born, why die, where we go after death.

    We are still evolving so changes are inevitable. So long as its effect is not going to be like a nuclear bomb, it is ok. i may be wrong, and i am not worried about it as i consider myself a student always.

    • We in India had the good fortune of having both Matriarchal as well as Patriarchal set ups. The aspect that separates the two is the inheritance and whether the female or the male leaves the house of birth. In this setup the responsibility of tolerating and adjustment fell on the shoulders of the male or female getting uprooted and moving to the new environment. This also resulted in avoidance of conflict among the male and female siblings. All this was a Social arrangement which evolved over a long period of time to harmonise the society and save relations.
      The above is called the Customary law. All religions, societies and tribes evolved their own customs and traditions. These may not be perfect but they suited the majority.
      Today we have become over reliant on the Legislature and the Judiciary to decide the fate of the Customary practices. Now most of the things need to be decided in a court of law. Unfortunately, the Courts of Law are controlled by people whose interests are served by more conflict with rather than conflict resolution. The Legal fraternity controls the framework of the laws framed the legislation. The common law and common sense are giving way.
      We all need to wait and see the results. The women of at least three generations of the family need to sit together and analyse the poroblem and find the solution as most of the problems are among the women folk.

  15. सोळंकी सिध्दी नितीन -

    I agree with everything you wrote. During my sister’s wedding i encountered so many tradition which are derogatory. I am 21 and being a female myself, when i questioned them… i was told i am overly bold and brash and out of line. My sister caved and accepted them. I am not against her decision, but she did it not because she wanted to, but only because she did’nt want to create a scene. Honestly there are many women out there who cave into being treated as an unequal because they have accepted their fate and that they are weaker gender and these women force others to do the same and silence the voice of other young women who just dont want to follow these derogatory rituals.

  16. Must say interesting times! West is getting influenced by Indian traditions/culture while Indian youth (especially Hindus) are getting westernized to the core!

    Its really sad that people in India are not able to understand and appreciate their own roots.

    Wonder if the writer of this article and her supporters would find anything good in Indian traditions/culture at all?

    Kanyadaan has its own significance. The institution of marriage is part of one of the four stages (ashram) of life – Grahasthashram.

    This is a key stage of life when two people come together to start a family. We all know that family is a very important unit of the society and the nation. Without the sacrifice of the girl (for leaving her home and family to live with the boy and his family) this would not have been possible (Why not the boy? that’s a debate for another day). So, when the girl’s father performs this ritual, he (and his family) are ”giving away” their child to enable this very important institution of marriage. There is grace in this thought and tradition. Why does one have to feel like an object being donated? That’s where the issue is. The word ”daan” has wider application. Besides its common use for charity, the word daan is also used for performing rituals and other actions such as Kanydaan, Abhaydaan, Vidyadaan, etc.

    The modern education, especially the education in India is ‘daan’ from the British legacy and must say they had quite succeeded in their motive to brainwash the Indians to turn against their own roots. It is high time that Indians learn their own ancient literature and philosophy (which is in Sanskrit – the ‘made’ dead language) and value the treasure before its too late.

Share your thoughts! [Be civil. No personal attacks. Longer comment policy in our footer!]

Stay updated with our Weekly Newsletter or Daily Summary - or both!