Nuptial Rituals like Kanyadaan are patriarchal practices, here the patriarch from the bride’s side gives away the bride to the groom. In cases the bride’s father is not present, the responsibility, then falls on uncles, as women on their own are not eligible to perform the ritual. So when Australia based Rajeshwari Sharma’s daughter was getting married, she knew she wanted to play a crucial part in the ceremony. It was not a surprise then, that her story is going viral.
Nuptial Rituals like Kanyadaan hold sentimental value for Indian Parents
Many today detest the said ritual, as regressive and misogynistic. The argument here is that women are given away like property or cattle, from one man to another.
But there are other aspects to this ritual if one wants to look beyond the unavoidable tag of patriarchy which accompanies almost every ritual of nuptial.
Earlier in our culture, a girl’s birth was always considered auspicious, and was said to bring prosperity to the household. So, in a way, this ritual symbolises a father giving the prosperity of his household to the groom. Thus, for parents, this ritual has an emotional significance. The patriarchal system has transformed this ritual into another way of proving male dominance in our society.
Women are now openly questioning the discrimination imposed on them by religion and culture, in the name of their gender. It hasn’t gone in our favour much, as those in the position of authority find it hard to grant women equal rights. They either feel intimidated or find it hard to let go of the age-old beliefs.
A refreshing take which symbolises changing times
These rituals often belittle the contribution of a mother to the household. Since the entire ceremony is about the union of two kulas, it is the sons or descendants of that kula who are given the authority of performing the ceremony (giving away a daughter of one kula to be a part of the husband’s).
A mother’s bond with her child is the deepest of all worldly relations, yet she is a mere spectator or a helping hand in the marriage ceremony.
By performing her daughter’s Kanyadaan, Rajeshwari has given us a refreshing take on this ancient ceremony. That a mother, widowed, single, has as much right to partake in these ceremonies as the father.
In fact, there are no valid reasons to ask a mother, who has brought up her child on her own, to step away and let a man, who solves the purpose of representing the patriarch, perform crucial rituals.
Marriage is a union between two individuals and their families. An equal involvement on all levels by both the parties. Maybe it’s time to get rid of nuptial rituals like Kanyadaan and encourage formation of a new household. Rather than giving away a child from one household to another. Why should a parent have to give away the child? Be it a daughter or a son?
Pic by MyAdvo.in
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own