With reference to a Hindu wedding ceremony, describe and explain the many points of symbolism.

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Introduction

With reference to a Hindu wedding ceremony, describe and explain the many points of symbolism. Ritual is very important within the Hindu religion. If ritual is performed correctly, good karma will follow and if not, the opposite will occur. There are whole books dedicated to ritual such as the Veda, the oldest scripture in the world. Key factors in making the right match include the partner being Hindu, also preferably from the same caste and compatible horoscopically. Also, the horoscopes show what the best date for the wedding to take place is. Although India is a large country and weddings vary, most key points are shared. In India the wedding itself would be at the bride's home but in England a hall is booked. In preparation for the wedding, henna is used to decorate her hands and feet lasting many weeks symbolising her entry into her marriage. A red spot is painted called a 'tilaka' showing she has been blessed by god. She is wearing a red sari, the colour of happiness, with gold jewellery, the best she can afford and black paint around her eyes called kajal. The groom gives her a ring that she wears on her toe. The groom will wear a kurta-pajana; a lose fitting top and trousers and a veil of beads. The bride and groom's parents will worship Ganesh and the family deities asking them to be present at the wedding and make sure everything goes to plan. Throughout the ceremony itself the priest keeps a fire burning by pouring ghee into the flames symbolising the presence of the Gods. He also throws rice and spices into the fire symbolising fertility.

Middle

2) a) Explain why, from a religious perspective, i) it is considered important for a Hindu to marry a Hindu, Within the Hindu religion it is considered very important for a Hindu to marry another Hindu. The main reason for this is because marriage in Hinduism is not seen as a lifestyle choice but a duty and religious stage of life, from 'student', the first ashrama, to 'householder', the second ashrama according to the Varna-ashrama-dharma. When married, a Hindu has the opportunity to achieve three goals: > A release from all basic human desires through marriage and having children. > A contribution to society though hard work. > The duty of carrying out whatever demands his particular caste places upon him. The 13th saskara is reached when a Hindu marries. Marriage in Hinduism is quite obviously a religious action. Therefore in not marrying a Hindu, you cannot easily for-fill these tasks given to you. You can preserve the purity of your religion and caste by marrying in the traditional way. By marrying a Hindu, you will have your horoscopes compared, will have the same religious state of mind, and are therefore compatible. If two Hindus marry, the families will get along and there will be no feuds. You will keep your parents happy by marrying a fellow Hindu in the correct manner. If you do not, there may be a major disagreement in which your family may not ever fully forgive you. They may even believe that in abandoning the correct tradition of marriage, you are abandoning the Hindu religion. If you marry a Hindu you will gain respect from the Hindu society whereas if you don't there may be a lot of disrespect and gossip about you.

Conclusion

In fact large parts of Hinduism itself are all about ritual and tradition. So if you do not marry in the correct manner, all this will be lost, bad Karma will follow and you will never be released from samara, the series of births, deaths and re-births and atman will never be rejoined with Brahmin. -This is a Hindu's main goal and therefore it is essential to have an arranged marriage. You do not really know this person you will spend the rest of your life with. Your husband/wife may have a problem such as gambling, a health condition or an alcohol addiction that you did not previously know about. In love marriages, you have usually been with and lived with your partner for several years before getting married and you therefore will almost certainly know every detail about him/her. After weighing up the points for and against marriage, although I can see from a Hindu's point of view why arranged marriages are a good thing, I have one major disagreement. A Hindu's main argument for arranged marriages is that it is a religious stage of life and not a lifestyle choice. As I am not Hindu, I do not believe this or other Hindu beliefs to be true. Therefore I personally disagree with arranged marriages. I feel that to marry, you must first be in a loving, longstanding relationship with a strong bond of trust and love. Marriage, to me, is something that shows commitment and love between two people and I find the concept of arranged marriages quite absurd. If to me, marriage is a gesture showing a couple's love and therefore surely the couple must be in love before taking vows of their love to one another? Aisling Knight 11.4 March 2001

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