Marriage is as old as humanity and is consecrated in various ways in different ethnic communities. It is the most sacrosanct event of our lives when two souls unite in marriage and begin a new journey to raise a family, following the customs and traditions of the culture to which they belong.
It is a poignant moment in the lives of those who go through this process.
It begins with separation but enjoins union. Parents separate and the newly wedded couple unite, taking the sacred vows.
The most common vow, taken during marriage ceremony, which echoes across the world, is as follows:
I, take you, to be my lawfully wedded husband (wife), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.
This vow seals the marriage of a couple.
The pattern and pulse of life changes dramatically, as those united in marriage step into a new world, structuring their lives with care, caution and consideration for each other. They become husband and wife and their new relationship unfolds and gradually blooms into a relationship that is strengthened, as they submit to each other and shape their destiny together.
Difference in approach
Different races and cultures give recognition and distinction to the deity of marriage. Most believe that it is God-ordained and that the association through marriage is one to infinity.
The vows and rituals that accompany marriage ceremonies differ from culture to culture but they all have a central premise, exhorting the wedded couple never to separate. The rituals performed give sanctity to marriage and mantras chanted in some cultures, are exhortations and prayers seeking the grace, mercy and blessings of the Almighty God.
Indeed, the rituals of marriage are an adornment to the occasion and are hallowed with sobriety and solemnity that the occasion truly demands.
Hindu marriages are well known for their elaborate and numerous rituals. The ceremony is a religious occasion, solemnised in accordance with the Vedas, the sacred scriptures of the Hindus. It is a collection of rituals and the ceremony largely has symbolic, philosophical and spiritual meaning.
It is still conducted in Sanskrit, one of the most ancient surviving languages.
Chanting of mantras in Sanskrit gives dignity and decorum to the ceremony, touching the hearts of people. It underpins civil marriage and leaves an abiding respect, recognition and faith in the institution of marriage.
Despite the sanctity and solemnity of the occasion, marriage ceremonies are time for merriment and usually the cup of joy overflows once the formalities are over.
Family members and friends celebrate the occasion with great flair. It is a happy occasion, meant to stir and leave beautiful memories.
Changes & pressures
Many things have changed, rituals have been re-invented, and vows have been re-written but marriage remains a powerful human institution that is now under pressure, as fewer people engage in the process and prefer to live as partners.
Marriage is dying in America. Same sex marriage is now emerging and taking root in many countries. Indications are that people may opt to live as partners, as it gives greater freedom of choice on relationships.
Some predict that in two decades, marriage will be assigned to the dustbin of history!
Let us hope that they are wrong and those who are making preparations for their nuptials – make your day!
From our Archives
Writer, thinker, author and analyst Rajendra Prasad is a bundle of emotions and with generosity almost to a fault, he likes people around him and feels betrayed when they say goodbye at the end of a meeting, dinner, function or even the day.
And the feeling of elation and obscureness was evident in the man at the Metotia Fou Hall in Auckland’s Papatoetoe on March 31, 2007 as his daughter Shavleen took the hand of Ronil Singh in matrimony, witnessed by more than 600 men and women.
And do people cry at weddings?
“Our daughter is leaving us; marriage is a happy occasion no doubt but it brings with it separation,” Mr Prasad’ wife Aruna said, explaining her predicament.
Those sentiments reflected not only family values, parent-child relationship and a sentimental bond that are unique to India and Indians even if some of the latter did not belong to the former.
You just cannot take the country out of people.
It was a society wedding, held in the presence of Governor General Anand Satyanand and his wife Susan, a cross-section of the society – people of the elite, financial and occupational opulence and others.
It was an evening of charm, solemnity and sincerity, sanctified by a religious ceremony, made sublime by the presence of families and friends far and near; in short, it was an evening made memorable by a couple, a family and a community.
Picture for Indian Newslink by Narendra Bedekar ©