Kanyadaan or giving away of the bride, is an important part of
the main wedding ritual. Kanyadaan is derived from the Sanskrit
words kanya which means virgin girl and daan which means
giving away. This is performed by the father of the bride, where
he gives his daughter to the groom, requesting him to accept her
as an equal partner. The bride and groom are considered wed
when the groom ties a mangalsutra which is a sacred thread that
symbolizes his promise to take care of the bride as long as he
lives. The entire wedding is done around an Agni Homam (sacred
fire). Agni (fire god) is considered as the main witnesses to the
marriage. The bride and the groom then circle the fire seven
times, in a clockwise direction, called Saat Phere which signifies
seven goals of married life which include religious and moral
duties, prosperity, spiritual salvation and liberation, and sensual
The wedding culminates with the groom applying vermillion or kumkum to
the bride's forehead, welcoming her as his partner for life. This is the first time
that kumkum is applied to the forehead of woman, when the bridegroom
himself adorns her with it. The kumkum, the mangalsuthra and the toe-rings
symbolize a married woman.
With so much of color, vibrancy, food, people, rituals, music, fun and frolic,
the Indian wedding is truly a festival in itself !