Cousin’s Lingayat Wedding

Satya’s cousin got married in India this past weekend.  It was a little bittersweet for him since he is happy his cousin is getting married, but sad he wasn’t able to attend.  Here are some things we found out:

-The festivities occurred over 3 days.  The dates are checked astrologically to make sure they are auspicious.  It is also important that parts of the ceremony are done at certain times, down to the minute.  Again, this is to make the ceremony is auspicious and the marriage begins on the right foot.

-Each of the three days Satya’s cousin got turmeric applied to his skin. 

-He wore different outfits for each day–one day in a suit, one day in a sherwani (the long-sleeved coats that end around a man’s knees), and the South Indian dyoti.

-3,000 people attended which is medium-sized.

-The cousin’s hand hurt after shaking so many hands.

-On the invitation, the women’s names go first.  This is a reverse of how it is in the U.S.  For formal occassions here, invitations are addressed Mr. and Mrs. Man’s first name Man’s last name.  There, the Mrs. goes first and her name is written out first and last and then her husband’s name is mentioned his first name and last name.  Is it the same in North India too?

-Brides are considered incarnations of Laxmi, the goddess of wealth, happiness, and health.

There was one tradition that puzzled both me and Satya…for some reason after the wedding his cousin was not allowed to return to his home.  This was a big deal because Satya’s sister took lots of pictures and so the two of them wanted to e-mail pictures.  They ended up going to a friend’s house, but the friend’s computer has a virus.  No fun. 

Another part that confused us was that Satya says that in his family it is tradition to set out a pole and bucket in front of the cousin’s house.  The pole is then set on fire.  I don’t know what happens with the bucket…in case the pole fire gets out of control??  Has anybody else heard of this tradition and/or know the reasoning behind it?  Maybe the pole is to tell time….after it is burnt the cousin can re-enter his family’s house?  Satya has no idea. 

Yes, the cousin did have a traditional arranged marriage.  It was a process that took a few years because sometimes a girl was found that his cousin liked and his parents did not or the his parents would like a girl and he didn’t.  They met each other in August and decided by early September that they would get married in late November.  Both are Lingayats and they are both professionals in their mid to late 20s.  It turned out that the bride was related to somebody in Satya’s old neighborhood so perhaps that is how they found each other.  No, there wasn’t a dowry because in general dowries make Lingayats uncomfortable.

Everything went well, from what Satya heard.  His sister is returning to the U.S. this week.  Someday I’d like to see a Lingayat wedding, but that will have to wait.

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Laxmi Worship

Today is an important day for worshipping Laxmi. She is especially worshipped on Fridays during the month of August/September, Shravan.  This is an important Friday because it is the Friday before a full moon.

Why:  Laxmi is the goddess of prosperity and “all good things” as my mother-in-law says.  People pray to her for health, wealth, happiness, children, and other things.  Laxmi is associated with Vishnu, Rama, and Krishna.

Who: Women, especially married women.

How:  For this I’m relying on what my mother-in-law told me and what information I’ve found online.  Traditions vary by region, caste, and family.  Like the nag festival, sweets, sarees, and bathing are important.  (So far it seems like every festival is accompanied by these things).  Bathing is done before praying.  A new saree is placed on the altar.   The altar is decorated with fresh flowers.

Some websites say that fasting is important and that there are other dietary restrictions: no onions, no garlic (sounds like Jains rather than for Hindus), vegetarian diet (this seems to be followed everyday), and no bitter foods. 

This is also an important time for visiting relatives.  Married women return to their mother’s place. 

Click here to go to Padma’s Kitchen blog.  She has a great description of what she does and great photos of her altar. 

My mother-in-law also makes designs on the sidewalk for festivals.  Click here for more information about this beautiful tradition and for pictures of examples.

How do you worship Laxmi?  What is your favorite part of the festival?