'Kanyadaan' is a Sanskrit word that means giving away the daughter. But is she a commodity? if we have Kanyadaan, why not Putradaan also?
‘Kanyadaan’ is a Sanskrit word that means giving away the daughter. But is she a commodity? If we have kanyadaan, why not putradaan also?
In Indian marriages, it is an extremely emotional moment for the bride’s parents to perform the kanyadaan ritual. I nurture immense respect for some rituals that were carried out by our ancestors and are practiced even today.
However, the ritual of ‘Kanyadaan’ highlights the dominance of patriarchal society. What is the need for a custom that glorifies giving away your daughter as if she is a commodity?
Kanyadaan has been of paramount importance in a Hindu marriage, irrespective of the region you belong to. ‘Kanyadaan’ is a Sanskrit word that means giving away the daughter. It is a ritual in which the father of the bride gives away his daughter to the groom.
The groom is considered an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, while the bride is considered Goddess Lakshmi, the deity of wealth and prosperity. Hence, the performance of this ritual ‘forgives’ the sins of the bride’s parents.
The father places the daughter’s hand in the groom’s hand followed by mantras recited by the wedding priest. Since the meaning of the ritual is giving away the daughter, it is always an emotional moment for the bride’s parents and relatives.
The name and the bizarre necessity of this ritual confuses me. It brings so many questions to my mind. Does kanyadaan exemplify the bride as a commodity? Is she no longer her parent’s daughter and has no rights in her childhood home?
Does society then cut off her identity as a daughter? Why is the groom considered superior to the bride? A bride can also be self-reliant and independent!
In earlier days, parents adhered to this ritual as women in those times lacked education and exposure. They were dependent on their husbands for financial sustenance. They had less connectivity with their parent’s homes due to the lack of communication and transport facilities. So, the bride’s parents always relied on the groom’s family for taking care of their daughter.
Nevertheless, these days with modern beliefs and women being relatively liberated and self-reliant, following the same rituals hampers their self-esteem. Following centuries old rituals in modern times upholds and encourages the patriarchal thought process.
The beauty behind rituals rests in their equality. These rituals can also be blended a bit so that the values remain explicit and display the beauty of equality in marriage.
Marriage is a bond between two people who take oaths to live their life together. So, I believe that ‘putradaan’ should also become a ritual, wherein the groom’s parents perform the same ceremony for their son.
It will then exhibit that the parents on both sides will give away their children to each other. A son also becomes a son-in-law and will take equal responsibility as a daughter takes when becoming a daughter-in-law. In this way, we will not only preserve the auspicious ritual but also demonstrate the beauty of marriage equality.
Image source: Dia Mirza wedding pics from Instagram
Sagarika Sahoo has done MBA and M.Com and pursued her career as a lecturer. She had short term experience in IT companies as a finance professional as well. She is now a full-time read more...
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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?
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.
Is Kanyadaan relevant today? Doesn't this concept revolve around ownership? Instead, let's teach our girls to be an equal in a marital relationship.
Is Kanyadaan relevant today? Doesn’t this concept revolve around ownership? Instead, let’s teach our girls to be an equal in a marital relationship.
Kanyadaan, meaning ‘donating a girl or maiden’, is an integral part of the Indian marriage ceremony. It involves handing over of the rights and duties of a girl by her parents to the groom and his family. Wikipedia describes it as the ‘gift of a maiden or a virgin’. It is a highly-valued custom. One through which the parents of the bride are believed to be relieved of their worldly sins. As per Indian customs, the groom is a form of Lord Vishnu, and thus, presenting him with their most cherished gift is seen as a matter of great honour for the bride’s parents. (Of course, one can hardly miss the irony, looking at the number of cases of female infanticide this country has!)