When we talk about Kanyadaan, the first thing that comes to our mind is our very own Indian weddings, which sometimes last for four days and are embossed like a fairy-tale spectacle that is so extravagant that with its bright and beautiful. Showcasing how many such traditions gets covered up which we never know.
An Indian wedding is defined by a larger-than-life festivity. From afar, it appears to be a real-life film. However, when you are a part of a wedding, you realise that our traditions are frequently debatable and misogynistic.
The context of ‘Kanyadaan’ in Hindu marriage
The Kanyadaan also refers to a gift of wealth and prosperity to the groom for his future life.
The groom is thought to be a manifestation of Lord Vishnu, while the bride is a manifestation of Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and success. According to this tradition, the sins of the parents are forgiven as a result of this religious giving rite.
In the societal context of the old times, Hindu marriage, with its Vedic rituals and ceremonies, was relevant. The rite “Kanyadaan” was created because girls were married off before reaching puberty. A girl’s responsibilities were entirely shifted to her husband’s household.
The majority of Indian traditions have always attempted to demonstrate how inadequate women are. Kanyadaan is one of them, and she has played a significant role in objectifying women. Daan literally translates to “charity” or “gift.” Is a lady really a donation object?
Times have changed but rituals haven’t
When we contemplate this rite, the question that comes to mind is whether women should be considered property that can be given away without their agreement and if we are to think, why doesn’t the lady’s mother or any other woman in the family have the same right as the men?
The world has changed. Girls’ roles have shifted dramatically. Their only responsibilities are no longer household tasks and child care. Every girl who breaks free from her traditional duties and views herself on par with men must challenge these ceremonies, especially Kanyadaan.
Women are now strong and independent
There were numerous examples of girls who defied these traditions and went on to have happy marriages and enjoy their lives. Their family have always backed them and stuck by them, even when they breached laws that have been in place for centuries.
“There are, forgive my saying so, some hypocrisies in our rituals,” a woman once said during her marriage. “On the one hand, we perform Kanya Poojan, while on the other, we refuse to recognise women’s rights. I believe it is critical to root out such hypocrisies, at least in my acts.”
Objectifying women is nothing new, and giving her a present isn’t surprising either. But what astounds us is that this ceremony is still carried out without a doubt. Because this is the rite that establishes patriarchy, establishes patrilocal residence, and reduces a girl to the position of a gift that no longer belongs to the owner. This practice must be stopped.
The change we need
Kanyadaan is a notion that isn’t limited to Hindu marriages. The bride’s father customarily takes her down the aisle to where her husband would be waiting to receive her’ at the altar in a Catholic wedding. While many people regard the rite as merely a custom to be respected and obeyed, some have begun to question the gender bias that underpins it all.
For a long time in India, tradition and reasoning have been at odds. It is a personal choice whether or not to believe in the system. However, making an informed decision is critical.
India is attempting to embrace a more rational and progressive mindset, and every small step forward can make a significant effect. It’s long past time for us to stop blindly following traditions and start thinking more creatively.