Hindu Culture - Facts

Traditions and customs are very much necessary for a society to flourish. A Civilization
is said to be complete only when it has certain customs and traditions. In 4th millennium BC,there existed Matriarchy among certain communities. When there were no customs and traditions enforced, and family system has no organizational structure. In Ramayana, Sita stepped of Lakshmana's line and was kidnapped by Ravana in the absence of Rama, and in the Holy Bible, Eve brought curse to mankind by listening to Satan in the absence of Adam. Manusmriti 5: 147, 148, 149 says: By a girl, by a young woman, or even by an aged one, nothing must be done independently, even in her own house. In childhood a female must be subject to her father, in youth to her husband, when her lord is dead to her sons; a woman must never be independent. She must not seek to separate herself from her father, husband, or sons; by leaving them she would make both her own and her husband's families contemptible.. This proves that ancient men knew today's scientific proofs - Men are intelligent and agressive than Women, While Women have more memory power and emotional than Men; and that Women are easy victims of evil by nature.
So Men who are intelligent and physically muscular by nature, used to abduct women of same tribe or different tribe brutally to quench their conjugal desires. As the centuries passed on women could not win the bread due to lack of physical strength, and it made men to use their physical strength in bread winning. Men gradually took charge of winning the bread. To prevent abductions of women by men of same tribe or other tribe, to protect women from all evils, and to preserve respect on women, men have enforced certain customs and traditions in the society. Men used to put a mark or used to tie a small rope to the arms or to the waist of their women. This marks prevented other men to touch their women. Mangalsutra in India is a reminiscent of this custom. Women as per the advises of Men, used to stay at home all the time. Even if any other men visit house, Women used to speak standing behind the curtains or walls. This custom existed until 1960-70's, and it prevented crimes against women in societies. Added to it, Men have enhanced the status of women in the society, by introducing the concept of Goddess (female gender of God) in religious epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata etc. This made men to respect women in the society.
God has created Men and Women such that Men have intelligence more than their memory power, while women have more memory power than their intelligence. Men have more intelligence and muscular power and so they earn bread from outside by sweat. Women have more memory power and patience and so they so they keep house clean and nurture family. These differences make Men and Women to depend on each other.
Owing to more muscular power, Men cannot show interest on or remember very small things like women do. They tend to solve any trouble even by taking deadly risk or by using physical force. The aggressive attitudes in men help to get out of troubles at the earliest. Women, owing to their more emotions, fall in panic first instead of finding solution and they tend to solve any trouble with the help of others, with out taking any risk. Men can take individual decisions and are quick decision makers, where as women take collective decisions and are slow decision makers. Man can handle a single task at a time, while a woman does multi-tasking at a time. These variations in genders make the world Patriarchy. Most commonly Men are good leaders and Women are good organizers. Men and Women have their own status in terms of duties, for why Gender equality is a wrong concept, ie neither Man is superior to Women, nor Women is inferior to Man. Although Men are creators of customs and traditions, Women are their preservers.
Maiden name Issue
Maiden name is the family name of a woman prior to marriage. Traditionally married women replace their maiden family names with their husband's family names. This ancient tradition, which linked to Hindu religious scriptures, was introduced in the Indian Society, to preserve the feeling of unity and oneness among the family members. Hinduism believes that Woman are embodiments of honor and pride of a family in a society. When a woman takes new family name, leaving her maiden family name, it symbolizes that she has taken the responsibility of enhancing her family's honor and pride in the society. The tradition of taking new family name mainly reveals a woman's adaptability in her husband's house after marriage. Although falsely seemed to be Patriarchy for Feminism, this tradition titles a family with a unique name in the society. Since by default husband is the eldest in a family, he becomes the head of the family and all the members of the family bears the family name of the head. This idea sustains the proper organizational structure of a family. The Government of India has legalized this old tradition, after the independence, to preserve the family system.
Purpose of the Rituals in Indian Marriage System
Kanyadaan, Literally meaning gifting the daughter away, is a sacred ritual where in the bride's father considers the groom to be an incarnation of god, and washes his feet with clean water. In the ritual he says slokas which mean To reach Brahma loka, I am giving away my daughter, decorated with treasures, to you; In the name of God and Panchabhootas, I am giving away my virgin daughter to you, so that the gods are pleased; For you to win s like Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha, I am giving away my virgin daughter. In this ritual the groom psychologically assumes that his wife is the most valuable gift in life" and the bride assumes that her husband is a form of God. This ritual reveals that it is not possible for a man to achieve purushardhas with out a woman. However Divorced women and Widows are not eligible for Kanyadaan ritual, as per scriptures.
Mangalyadharam is a ritual where in the groom ties Mangalsutra to the bride's neck, by saying: "I am tying mangalsutra, the reason of my life, to your neck. Live for a 100 years by wearing Mangalsutra, where in my life stays." Mangalsutra is a gold chain with a couple of concave shaped gold coins joined together. Married women wear this for life long to protect their marriage and to keep the evil spirits away. Mangalsutra conveys the marital status of a woman in the society. Hinduism believes the Mangalsutra is the symbol of bond between Husband and Wife. Since Women are primary powers by nature, it is believed that husbands will be alive in good health as long as wife wears Mangalsutra on her neck. When a wife removes off Mangalsutra from her neck, it is very common to assume that Husband is dead, and she became the widow. Indian family system is very strong since it is assumed that Mangalsutra, where in the life of husband exists, is the most important ornament of woman to wear in life. In South India, Mangalsutra is termed as Thali or Thali necklace.
Jeela Karra- Bellam is a ritual where in bride and groom lays their palms, loaded with Jeelakarra (cumin seeds) and Bellam (Jaggery) powder, on each other. Cumin seeds when mixed with Jaggery powder, it is very difficult to separate them again by manual methods. The purpose of the ritual is that Husband and Wife should be unite forever. This ritual is very common among Telugu weddings.
Arundhati Star (Alcor)is an event in which the groom shows Arundhati Star in the sky to the bride. According to a story Arundhati was very faithful wife of a sage Vashista. She served her husband all the life, and Vashita loved her so much. They reached moskha and turned into binary stars by name Arundhati (Alcor) and Vashista (Mizor). In the night sky, they appear as a single star and it is very difficult to view them separately with naked eye, except with a powerful telescope. The two stars are found at second position from the tail of Saptarishi Mandala (Big Dipper). The purpose of this ritual is that Husband and wife should be inseperable like Arundhati and Vashista for life time.
Saptapathi rite involves taking 7 steps walking around the fire. According to , completion of the seventh step is the moment of completion of marriage for all legal purposes. For each step Groom and Bride say manthras as follows:
*Step 1.
Groom says: My beloved, our love became firm by walking one step with me. You will offer me the food and be helpful in every *way. I will cherish you and provide for the welfare and happiness of you and our children. Bride says: This is my humble submission to you, my lord . You kindly gave me responsibility of the home, food and taking charge of the finance. I promise you that I shall discharge all responsibilities for the welfare of the family and children.
*Step 2.
Groom says : My beloved, you have now walked the second step with me. Fill my heart with strength and courage and together we shall protect the household and children.
Bride says: My lord, in your grief, I shall fill your heart with strength, In your happiness, I shall rejoice. I promise you that I will please you always with sweet words and take care of the family and children and you shall love me alone as your wife.
*Step 3.
Groom says: My beloved, now you have walked three steps with me. By virtue of this, our wealth and prosperity are bound to grow. I shall look upon all other women as my sisters. Together, we will educate our children and may they live long.
Bride says: My lord, I will love you with single minded devotion as my husband. I will treat all other men as my brothers. My devotion to you is of a chaste wife and you are my joy. This is my commitment and pledge to you.
*Step 4.
Groom says: My beloved, it is a great blessing that you have walked four steps with me. You have brought auspiciousness and sacredness into my life. May we be blessed with obedient and noble children. May they be blessed with long life.
Bride says: My lord, I will decorate you from your feet up with flowers, garlands and anoint you with sandal wood paste and fragrance. I will serve you and please you in every way.
*Step 5.
Groom says: My beloved, now that you have walked the five steps with me, you have enriched my life. May God bless you. May our loved ones live long and share in our prosperity.
Bride says: My lord, I share both in your joys and sorrows. Your love will make me trust and honor you. I will carry out your wishes.
*Step 6.
Groom says: My beloved, you have filled my heart with happiness by walking six steps with me. May you fill my heart with great joy and peace from time to time.
Bride says: My lord, in all acts of righteousness, in material prosperity and in every form of enjoyment and divine acts, I promise you that I shall participate and shall always be with you.
*Step 7.
Groom says: My beloved, as you walked the seven steps with me, our Love and friendship became eternal. We experienced spiritual union in God. Now you have become completely mine and I offer my life to you. Our marriage will be for ever.
Bride says: My lord, as per the law of God and the Holy scriptures I have become your spouse. Whatever promises we gave, we have spoken with pure mind. We will be truthful to each other in all things. We will love each other for ever.
After these 7 steps, the marriage become legal by Hindu law codes. Then, they both say: "Now let us make a vow together. We shall share the same food, share the strengths, the same tastes. We shall be of one mind, we shall observe the vows together; I shall be the Sama, you the Rigveda; I shall be upper world, you the earth; I shall be the Sukhilam. you the Holder; Together we shall live and beget children, and other riches. Come thou, Oh, sweet-worded girl."
Why Husband is elder to his Wife?
Basically there are 3 reasons why husband is elder to his wife for marriage. (1) Girls are matured psysically and mentally between the ages of 14 and 16, where as boys mature physically and mentally between the ages of 20 and 25. So a girl of 16-18 possesses knowledge equavalent to that of boy of 20-25 years. So maturity levels are balanced when husband is elder to his wife. (2) The sexual capacity in women drops after the age of 60 onwards, where as the sexual capacity in men drops at the age of 70 onwards. To prevent Men going to another women, when wife loses her sexual capacity, it was decided by the ancients that Husband should be elder to his wife. (3) If husband is elder in a family, all members including wife and children abide by his wishes, so that proper organizational structure in a family is preserved. Medically, the best age for marriage in women is between 16 and 22, and in men is between 25 and 30.
How Husband becomes God for a Wife?
By nature, women are embodiments of a family's honor and pride. The ancient male scholars have written the scriptures which help women to nurture their families. In Hindu scriptures Parvati had won Shiva as husband through her penance. Princess Savitri has won her husband's life from Yama, the god of death and punishment. This can be referred from Savitri and Satyavan. In Ramayana, Sita has proved herself to be the ideal wife of Rama, through fire entering. These characters have inspired ancient women to make their marriage life rich and happy.
In Shantiparva-Section CXLIV, it was written that: The greatest diety for a wife is her husband. In Mahabharata, Adi Parva, Section LXXIV, it was written that: She is a true wife who is skilful in household affairs. She is a true wife who has borne a son. She is a true wife whose heart is devoted to her lord (husband). She is a true wife who knows none but her lord. The wife is a man’s half. The wife is the first of friends. The wife is the root of religion, profit and desire. The wife is the root of salvation. In Ayodhya Kanda, it was written that: Through out life, both husband and god are equal for a wife; She who leaves her husband will never flourish; For a Wife, there is no penance greater than serving husband. In Sundara Kanda, it was written that: For a Wife, there is no ornament greater than a husband; and that she who serves husband, despite of his wickedness, will attain moksha. In 5:164, it was written that She who neglects her duties towards husband, will be humiliated in the world, and tormented in the wombs of jackals with deceases. Yajur Veda Chapter XXXIII, Verse 59 says that A wife, obedient to her husband, renowned, light-footed, eloquent in speech, sympathetic to the patients, attains to happiness when she lives peacefully with her husband, and nicely cooks the food highly efficacious, and grown through rain, conducive to our physical growth, brought daily in use, and relished by our ancestors.. These verses inspired an Indian woman to treat her husband as God and shine her marriage.
On the other side Manu Smriti says: Where women are honoured, there the gods are pleased, but where they are not honoured, there no sacred rite is fruitful.. The Mahabharata - Anusasana Parva, Section XLVI says that Do ye men show them honour. The righteousness of men depends upon women. All pleasures and enjoyments also completely depend upon them. Do ye serve them and worship them. Do ye bend your wills before them.. There are many verses like this in Hindu scriptures which inspire Men to honor their women.
Traditions and customs appear to have loop holes especially for the youth and feminism of today, but they certainly strenthens the society and human family system. Whereever a religion is born and accepeted, there the marriage and family system remains secured.
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