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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Lingayat Wedding Rituals

Since some people have come to this blog to find out more about Lingayat Wedding rituals, I will share what I know.  So far what I know has been gathered by speaking with Satya, his sister, and looking at some wedding photos from his sister’s wedding ceremony.  As our wedding ceremony in India draws closer and after we get back, I’ll be able to write more authoritatively and completely.

 

Preparation

Invitations are delivered by hand.  Sending invitations by mail means that you don’t care if the recipients come to the wedding or not.  Even though people may be scattered throughout the state or even India, this is still expected. There might be hundreds of people to invite as well, but the personal invitation is still expected.

 

Like most Indian rituals, bathing is an important first step.  Usually relatives bathe the bride and groom beforehand.  Turmeric is rubbed into the skin to lighten it (not sure if this would happen to me-I’m already very pale.)  The bride gets henna applied to her hands and feet and flowers are put into her hair.  Jasmine is a popular choice because it is very fragrant.  It grows easily and well in Karnataka and from what Satya has said, seems to be always blooming.

 

Ceremony

My mother in law has warned me that we will be sitting cross-legged on the floor for two or three hours.  I will be wearing a silk saree because it is traditional and because it is probably the most comfortable option (sitting cross-legged in a Western-style gown made of satin or polyester sounds extremely uncomfortable to me.)  Satya will have a suit and possibly a more traditional Indian outfit.  He is a little unsure of this because he’s never worn traditional clothing in his life.

 

The family is important to the ceremony.  At one part of the ceremony, the groom’s parents feed the bride’s parents sugar and vice versa.  My parents most likely will not be making the trip to India so this will not be included.  The bride and groom also have to serve each other sugar.  I’m a little squeamish about this as I’m still working on being able to eat rice comfortably with my hands.

Other important things are coconuts, symbols of good luck, and fire.

 

As you can see, my knowledge at this point is minimal.

 

Anyone have more details, stories or advice to share?  I welcome your comments.