#Father’sDay: Understanding the significance of kanyadaan in a Hindu weddings

An emotional moment shared between daddy’s little girl and her doting father.

While one enjoys the many ceremonies and rituals a Hindu wedding, it is the sentiment and significance of some of these traditions that truly move you and further strengthen your bond with your loved ones. Among them all, there’s one vital ceremony that involves an important family member—the father. Yes, we’re talking about kanyadaan. And on the occasion of Father’s Day, we shed light on this extremely emotional moment where he gives away his beloved daughter into the care of her partner for a lifetime. 

The emotional significance

While kanyadaan may be a Hindu ritual, most fathers across religions and borders feel gushy and overwhelmed when they move into a different home. Fathers consider their daughters as their most prized possession and often go out of their way to pamper them and cater to all their demands. This is exactly why handing her over to someone else is an experience that’s heart-wrenching to say the least. The ceremony is proof that he is transferring the responsibility of taking care of his daughter from himself to her partner. This 'giving away' is what makes the ritual an emotional one. 

In the past few years, the ritual has been dissed as obsolete and regressive, as it treats women as objects that can be 'given away'. While many couples are choosing to skip this completely, some are tweaking it to make it more gender equal. However, it continues to be a widely practiced ritual in Hindu weddings for many reasons.

The religious sentiment

The word kanyadaan gets its name from kanya, which means girl, and daan, signifying donation or giving away. In a Hindu wedding, the groom is considered to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, and the bride is considered to be a form of Goddess Lakshmi—the deity of wealth and prosperity. Therefore, giving the daughter away is a religiously significant act. It is also believed that performing kanyadaan and offering the daughter (to God) purifies the sins committed by the parents of the bride (even those done in previous births). Surprisingly, its origins aren’t present in the Vedas, but the Manusmriti texts. As per what’s written, a male was considered essential for a woman’s existence. It was the father who was this person before she is handed to the husband after marriage. 

It is also a ritual where it is stressed to the groom that his bride is the most precious “gift” that he will ever receive in his life, and he has to honour her and cherish her likewise. The groom promises to take care of their daughter, forever.

How is the Kanyadaan rite carried out?

The ceremony takes place just before the mangalpheras. Here, the father of the bride places her right hand in that of the groom’s (which is known as hastamilap). The groom’s right hand is placed over hers which is representative of him consenting to his daughter becoming his spouse and life partner. The mother of the bride then pours holy water into their hands. After the sacred water, betel leaves, betel nut, flowers, dry fruits, conch, gold, and money are placed in their hands. The groom then places his hand on the right shoulder of the bride, as his way of taking on her responsibilities. Furthermore, the father of the bride also makes the groom promise that he will treat his daughter as an equal and take care of her as they begin a life together. With this completed, pundits then chant the verses, which marks the end of the ritual.

All images: Epic Stories

Also read: 10 fascinating wedding customs from around the world

Also read: Here are five tips for #TeamBrides for nailing the ‘joota chupai’ ritual

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