Why is Kanyadan performed after garlanding of bride and groom?


1. The wedding ritual and then the Kanyadan

1A The ritual of holding the wedding curtain (Antahapatdharan vidhi)

A. Definition : A folded sheet of cloth having double width held as a curtain between the bride and the groom from the southern direction is called antahapat or antarpat.All these rituals are carried out and then the ritual of offering of the bride to the groom which is Kanyadan is done.

B. The ritual : Before the marriage ceremony starts, as the auspicious time starts drawing near, the priests should make two heaps of a kilo of white washed rice on two wooden seats (pats) of mango wood and arrange them one facing the east and the other at an arm’s length from it facing the west either in the house (or in the pandal below the mortar in the ground). Taking a clean cloth (dupeta) a svastik should be drawn with vermilion (kumkum), etc. on either side of it, in the centre. Then that wedding curtain (antarpat) should be held horizontally by any two persons as a partition such that its selvedged ends face the north. Energy can enter through these ends (or ends of any object). Since pleasant energies are present towards the north the ends are kept in that direction. (Distressing energies are present in the south.) Out of the heaps made earlier the groom should be made to stand on the heap towards the east facing the west and the bride should be made to stand on the heap towards the west facing the east. Then both should be given a mixture of some rice, jaggery and cummin seeds in their palms. This is the last of the individual sanskars (rites) of the bride and groom.

1B The ritual of mutual observation (Paraspar nirikshan vidhi)

A. Definition : The ritual performed to make the bride and groom look at each other lovingly is called the ritual of mutual observation.

B. The ritual : Both the bride and groom should chant the Name of their family deity in their minds, ‘Amushyai namaha (अमुष्‍यै नम: ।)’ and stand looking at the svastik on the wedding curtain. Pleasant frequencies from the svastik help to generate positive thoughts about one another.

1C Chanting of eight auspicious verses (Mangalashtakas) and the

ritual of showering the couple with consecrated rice (Akshataropan vidhi)

        Although these are only eight, nowadays many are chanted.

Jai ghanta shabda pramanam atyasandhi savadhan.
Ati sulagna savadhan savadhan ati sumuhurt savadhan.
Ati savadhan. Savadhan. Savadhan.

(जय घंटा शब्‍द प्रमाणम्‌ अत्‍यासंधि सावधान्‌ ।।
अति सुलग्‍न सावधान्‌ सावधान्‌ अति सुमुहूर्त सावधान्‌ ।।
अति सावधान्‌ ।। सावधान्‌ ।। सावधान्‌ ।।)’

        Thus after the chanting of the eight auspicious verses is complete there should be a thunderous applause and musical instruments should also be played. After chanting the mantra ‘तदेव लग्‍नं सुदिनं तदेव ताराबलं चंद्रबलं तदेव ।
विद्याबलं दैवबलं तदेव लक्ष्‍मीपते तेंघ्रियुगंते स्‍मरामि ।।’ and saying ‘सुमुहूर्तमस्‍तु ॐ प्रतिष्‍ठा ।।’ (meaning – may this be an auspicious moment and an honourable event) the wedding curtain (antahapat) should be drawn from the north. Then the priest should make the couple sprinkle the mixture of rice, jaggery and cummin seeds on each other’s heads and tell both to look at each other lovingly and garland one another. The bride should garland the groom first. In modern times rice, jaggery and cummin seeds are not used, only garlands are exchanged.

Variation : The groom should touch the bride in between her eyebrows with the tip of a blade of sacred grass (darbha) saying ‘Om bhurbhuvaha svaha (ॐ भूर्भुव: स्‍व:)’and then throwing it away sip water from his palm (achaman). The seat of the Adnya chakra is at the root of the nose in between the eyes. This ritual is performed so that the energy generated from the chanting of ‘Om bhurbhuvaha svaha’ penetrates the Adnya chakra. The wife should obey the husband as he alone is her Guru and God. Obeying the husband is her spiritual practice. This is akin to a disciple obeying the Guru as his spiritual practice. Thereafter the groom and bride should sit opposite each other, the groom facing the east and the bride the west. The priest should then place consecrated rice (akshata) in the palms of both and first ask the bride to shower it on the groom’s head and then the groom to shower it on the bride’s head. This should be repeated three or five times. This showering of consecrated rice on one another is to fulfill each other’s desires of Righteousness (Dharma), wealth (artha), desire (kama) and progeny (santati). Then the parents of the bride and groom and the families of both should shower consecrated rice on the couple and pronounce that the marriage has been solemnised. Nowadays mostly when chanting the eight auspicious verses (mangalashtakas), each time when ‘Shubhamangala savadhan (शुभमंगल सावधान्‌)’ is recited only a little consecrated rice is showered on the couple. The rest of the consecrated rice in the hand is showered in the direction of the bride and groom after they have garlanded each other. If they happen to be at a distance then the consecrated rice is showered in their direction.

        In olden times after the rite of tying the thread around the wrist (Kankanbandhan) the bride and groom would shower consecrated rice on one another in order to fulfill each other’s desires of Righteousness (Dharma), wealth (artha), desire (kama), progeny (santati), etc. and would apply tilak (kumkum) and garland one another.

        The unbroken grain is an embodiment of fertility, prosperity, etc. Besides it also has the energy to overcome distressing energies such as spirits, black magic, etc. Hence unbroken rice grain is used.

1D The gathering at the marriage (lagnasabha)

        This is a popular custom. ‘After the garlanding of the bride and groom all the guests at the wedding take seats in the pandal. This is referred to as the gathering at the marriage. Then the hosts of both the parties honour the guests by offering them betel leaves and betelnuts, perfume, roses, bouquets, sweetmeats (pedhas), coconuts, etc. The hostess offers oti to the married women (suvasinis).’ (1)

2. Sulking of the groom’s mother (Varamaiche rusane)

        This is a popular custom. Once the wedding takes place the groom’s mother returns to her room without seeing the bride. Then the bride’s mother along with other married women follows her and after presenting her with a slab of jaggery, requests her to return. Then the groom’s mother goes to the bride’s home taking along a sari, blouse, ornaments, etc. to be presented to the daughter-in-law in the ritual of Sunmukh.

3. The ritual of giving away the daughter (Kanyadan)


A. Definition : The giving away of the bride (daughter) to the groom is called the ritual of giving away of the daughter (Kanyadan). People wonder how the ritual of giving away of the daughter is performed after the bride and groom have already wed one another. Every ritual includes the resolve (sankalpa), the ritual according to the resolve, and pronouncing the fulfillment of the resolve, or a ritual to that extent [for instance offering water into a circular, shelving metal dish (tamhan)]. In the same way the promise of giving the daughter’s hand in marriage (Vanhnishchay) always includes the resolve of the ritual of giving away the daughter (Kanyadan). During the marriage the bride and groom garland one another.This itself is the ritual according to the resolve. This is followed by the ritual of fulfillment of the resolve of giving away of the daughter. That is why it follows the wedding.

B. The resolve : ‘I named …. belonging to …. pravar and …. lineage (gotra) am giving away my daughter through the rite of marriage (Brahmavivaha) in order to obtain the merit of the ritual of giving away the daughter for all my ancestors like attaining the region of Brahma (Brahmalok) along with Bliss of an unparalleled nature, to obtain purification and upliftment of twelve members of the clan of the father and twelve members of the clan of the groom and myself (a total of twenty-five) and to appease and acquire the grace of Shri Lakshminarayan by way of the children born to the daughter and her groom.’

C. The ritual of Kanyadan : One should say, ‘I am giving away this beautiful daughter of mine adorned with gold ornaments to you considering you as Lord Vishnu, with the hope of attaining Brahma’s region. I am giving away this daughter to you for the upliftment of my ancestors with The Omnipresent Lord, all elements and deities as witnesses’. Then taking a new bronze plate one should place the cup of the palm (anjali) of the daughter over it, that of the groom over hers and finally one’s own over the groom’s. Then the vessel containing water charged with a mantra earlier for the ritual of giving away the daughter should be handed to one’s wife present to one’s right and she should be asked to pour the water from that vessel onto one’s cupped palms continuously in a fine stream. This is done so that the water from one’s cupped palms falls on the right hand of the groom’s cupped palms and through that onto the cupped palms of the bride and finally into the bronze vessel. As the marriage has already occurred the bride stands to the left of her husband, similarly her cupped palms lie below those of her husband.

        The groom should say, ‘I accept this girl for the fulfillment of Righteousness (Dharma) and for acquiring progeny. The bride’s father should tell the groom, ‘Do not violate the regulations with regard to Righteousness, wealth (artha), desire (kama) pertaining to her’. The groom should clearly state ‘I will not violate the regulations (naticharami)’.

D. The distinctive feature of giving away the daughter (Kanyadan) : In all other offerings the recepient gets the object exactly as it is donated for example money, a cow, etc. However, in the ritual of giving away of the daughter when the bride’s father offers the daughter to the groom he gets a wife instead of a daughter.

3A Offerings to the groom (Varadakshina)

        The bride’s father gives an offering (dakshina) to the groom. Along with it he also gives a water vessel (tambya), a circular, shelving metal dish (tamhan), a vessel for worship (panchapatri), a plate (tat), etc.

‘The dowry system : The Indian (Bharatiya) people have considered marriage as a type of offering (dan). In marriage the daughter has to be offered to the groom. While donating one also has to give an offering either in cash or gold as without such an offering, the donation remains incomplete. Hence it was an ancient tradition to give the groom some amount in cash or a gold ornament for the sake of the daughter, after offering her to him. It cannot be called dowry in the conventional sense of the term as this offering was dependent on the bride’s father’s wish.’(2)

3B The ritual of sprinkling water in

which goldis put (Suvarnabhishek vidhi)

        In this ritual some gold is kept immersed in water and that water is sprinkled on the heads of the bride and the groom.

4. The ritual of winding the thread (Sutraveshtan)

        The bride and groom are made to sit facing each other (the groom’s maternal uncle should sit behind the groom and the bride’s maternal uncle or any other relative should sit behind the bride as supporters.) Then two strands of new, white cotton thread should be soaked in milk and wound around the neck and waist of the bride and groom in five turns from the north-eastern direction. The mantra chanted at that time means – ‘May these words of ours bind you on all sides, bestow you with longevity and endow you with happiness’. Thus after the winding of the thread is over, the thread around the neck should be allowed to fall on the ground and the bride and groom should be asked to stand up. Then the thread fallen on the ground should be picked up. To symbolise the continuity of man’s life (full lifespan), during sanskars (rites) and on other auspicious occasions winding of the thread (Sutraveshtan) is performed. (An earthen pot is used to depict the transitory nature of life.)

5. Tying the thread around the wrist (Kankanbandhan)

        Vermilion (kumkum) is applied to the thread used in the ritual of winding the thread (Sutraveshtan). It is twisted and a piece of turmeric and wool is tied to it. The groom should say, ‘The relationship of the bride with the evil spirit troubling her is now severed. Its colour has now become bluish red. As it has departed now, the brethren of the bride will prosper and her husband is being bound to her’, and ties it to the bride’s left wrist. Then removing the thread from the waist, wool and a piece of turmeric is tied to it in the same way. The bride then ties it to the right wrist of the groom, chanting the same mantra.

6. Tying the auspicious thread (Mangalsutrabandhan)

Mangalsutra bandhan

        Married women (suvasinis) from the groom’s side should make the bride and groom sit facing eastwards and should give the bride two yellow attires called ashtaputri and kanchuki (kacholi, choli) and an auspicious thread consisting of black beads (mangalsutra). Then the bride is dressed with one of the ashtaputris and the other is draped around her shoulders. She is made to wear a blouse and then taking the mangalsutra in the hand the groom should say, ‘O chaste wife (pativrata), I am tying onto your neck this mangalsutra which denotes (will increase) your husband’s (my) lifespan. O beautiful one, may you live a hundred years’. Thus chanting the Name of the benevolent deity (ishtadevata) he should tie the thread around the bride’s neck. Then the bride should be presented with ornaments. Among the Brahmans the auspicious thread (mangalsutra) has two cup shaped gold structures. At the time of marriage the auspicious thread is tied in such a way that the hollows of these cups face the front. These are reversed after a year. Some people just have beads. These are variations depending on the customs.

7. Tying a knot of the clothes (Vastragranthibandhan)

        The betelnuts worshipped by chanting mantras are tied to the end of the shawl draped around the shoulders of the bride and the groom. These two separate knots are then tied together.

        Then the one giving away the daughter along with his wife, the elderly people, married women (suvasinis) and all well-wishers and relatives should apply wet consecrated rice (akshata) onto the foreheads of the bride and groom and bless the couple.

8. Worship of Mahalakshmi, Parvati and Shachi

        Thereafter making three small heaps of white rice on a plate the three deities Mahalakshmi, Parvati and Shachi should be ritualistically worshipped with sixteen items (shodashopchar puja) amidst chanting of Their Names. To appease Lakshmi and the other deities being worshipped the bride should give coconuts (soubhagyavastu) to the married women.

9. The sacrificial fire of marriage (Vivahahom)

A. The materials : A basketful of earth to make the mud altar (sthandil, vedi) for the sacrificial fire, a blow-pipe, sacrificial firewood (samidha), [twigs of trees such as palas, catechu (khair), the holy fig tree (pimpal), etc. measuring a span’s length], parched corn (lahya), a sifting pan, clarified butter (ghee), a flat grinding stone and muller (or a grindstone), water, a pot (kalash), tender leaves of the mango tree, cowdung, burning coals, three betelnuts, four betel leaves, two coconuts and an offering of money (dakshina).

Prokshani A vessel of water. The water from this vessel is
sprinkled on other vessels.
Struva A wooden spoon used for the offering. It can
measure a tola (equivalent to two or two and half
teaspoonfuls) of clarified butter.
Pranita A vessel filled with water
Ishma A bundle of 15 sacrificial sticks of firewood of two
spans length from sacrificial trees like the
palas,catechu, etc.
Barhish A fistful of sacred grass (darbha) and all other
materials used in the sacrificial fire.

B. The resolve (sankalpa) : ‘I am performing this sacrificial fire of marriage (Vivahahom) to confirm the status of the bride accepted by me in the rite of marriage as my wife and to accomplish the fire worshipped in the home (gruhyagni) and to accomplish it I am also performing all other acts incorporated in it such as smearing of the mud altar (sthandil) for the sacrificial fire.’

10. The nuptials (Panigrahan)

        The groom’s clasping the hand of the bride including her five fingers with her palm facing downwards, is known as ‘Panigrahan’. The following mantra is chanted on this occasion: ‘O lady, by accepting me as your husband, you will live with me till you attain old age. Hence to endow you with wifehood, I am holding your hand. The four deities Bhag, Aryama, Savita and Pusha have handed you over to me to carry out all the chores in the stage of the householder (gruhasthashram)’.

11. The sacrificial fire

performed with parched corn (Lajahom)



         Laja means parched corn (lahya). Corn flakes (as well as rice grains) represent a swollen vagina and symbolise high fertility. First the groom should take a place to the east and ask the bride to stand up. Then she should be asked to wash both her hands with clean water and asking her to cup her palms he should put a little clarified butter (ghee) with a wooden offering spoon (struva, pali) into the cupped palms, that is smear some clarified butter onto her palms. Then the bride’s brother or his representative should stand up and put fistfuls of parched corn (lahya) from the sifting pan into the bride’s cupped palms, twice. (If he is of the fifth pravar then he should put the corn thrice). This should be followed by the groom’s pouring a stream of clarified butter over the corn in the sifting pan and the cupped palms. ‘May the deity of fire named Aryama worshipped by the bride liberate her from the bondages here (the father’s house), and not liberate her from the bondages of her husband (me)’. Saying this he should hold the bride’s cupped palms with both his hands and throw all the corn from it into the sacrificial fire. Then along with the bride the groom should circumambulate the site of the sacrificial fire, the water pot and the fire, excluding the flat grinding stone and muller. When circumambulating he should hold the bride’s hand and walk ahead and the bride should follow. According to the popular custom the bride’s brother twists the groom’s ear at this juncture.

12. The bride standing on the flat

grinding stone/grindstone (Ashmarohan)

        The meaning of the mantra chanted on this occasion is as follows: ‘Climb this stone and become stable like it. Resist those who may come to quarrel or fight and lure them away’. The stone represents steadiness and solidity.

13. The mantra of the seven steps (Saptapadi mantra)


         According to a quote from the scriptures friendship develops after walking seven steps together. ‘प्राहु: सप्‍तपदं मैत्रं बुधा: तत्‍वार्थदर्शिन: ।’ Hence the ritual of saptapadi is given special importance in the sanskar (rite) of marriage. The act of taking the bride over the seven heaps of rice made on the northern side of the sacrificial fire (hom) by the groom, clasping her hand is known as saptapadi. As the bride and groom take a step the priest (purohit) chants the following mantras with each step. At that time the bride and groom should make the appropriate resolves.

13A Vows (pratidnya) of the bride

        The bride takes the following consecutive seven vows, one at each step.

  1.  त्‍वत्तो मेऽखिलसौभाग्‍यं पुण्‍यैस्‍त्‍वं विविधै: कृतै: ।
    देव ! संपादितो मह्यं वधूराद्ये पदेऽब्रवीत्‌ ।।

    Meaning : O Lord! I have had the good fortune of acquiring you due to the various types of merits acquired by me in various births.

  2. कुटुंबं पालयिष्‍यामि ह्यावृद्धबालकादिकम्‌ ।
    यथालब्‍धेन संतुष्‍ठा व्रते कन्‍या व्दितीयके ।।

    Meaning : I will look after your entire family, from the infant to the aged and will be happy with whatever I get for my sustenance.

  3. मिष्‍ठान्नव्‍यंजनादिनी काले संपादये तव ।
    आज्ञासंपादिनी नित्‍यं तृतीये साऽब्रवीव्दरम्‌ ।।

    Meaning : I will always abide by your directives and will regularly cook delicious food, vegetables, etc.

  4. शुचि: शृंगारभूषाऽहं वाङ्‌मन: कायकर्मभि: ।
    क्रीडि ष्‍यामि त्‍वया सार्धं तुरीये सा वदेव्दरम्‌ ।।

    Meaning : I will embellish myself with clean attire and will indulge in sexual play with you through acts with the mind, speech and body.

  5. दु:खे धीरा सुखे हृष्‍टा सुखदु:खविभागिनी ।
    नाहं परतरं यामि पंचमे साऽब्रवीव्दरम्‌ ।।

    Meaning : I who face sorrow bravely and remain pleased in happiness will share both your happiness and sorrow and will never indulge in adultery.

  6. सुखेन सर्वकर्माणि करिष्‍यामि गृहे तव ।
    सेवा श्वसुरयोश्चामि बन्‍धूनां सत्‍कृतिं तथा ।।
    यत्र त्‍वं वा अहं तत्र नाहं वञ्‍चे प्रियं क्‍वचित्‌ ।
    नाहं प्रियेण वञ्‍चा हि कन्‍या षष्‍ठे पदेऽब्रवीत्‌ ।।

    Meaning : I will happily perform all your household chores. I will also serve my in-laws and will respect other relatives. I will stay wherever you stay. I will never deceive my beloved (master) and will never get deceived by him.

  7. होमयज्ञादिकार्येषु भवामि च सहाय्‍यकृत्‌ ।
    धर्मार्थकामकार्येषु मनोवृत्तानुसारिणी ।।
    सर्वेऽत्र साक्षिणस्‍त्‍वं मे पतिर्भूतोऽसि सांप्रतम्‌ ।
    देहो मयार्पितस्‍तुभ्‍यं सप्‍तमे साऽब्रवीव्दरम्‌ ।।

    Meaning : O master! I will assist you in the rituals of sacrificial fires (hom-yadnya), etc. and will obey you with regard to Righteousness (Dharma), wealth (artha) and desire (kama). Here, in the presence of the deity of fire (Agnidev), the Brahmans, my parents and relatives you have become my master and I have offered my body unto you.’(3)

13B Vows (pratidnya) of the groom

        The meaning of the mantra to be chanted by the groom with each step is as follows

  1. इष एकपदी भव-सामामनुव्रताभव-पुत्रान्‍विदावहैबहूंस्‍तेसंतुजरदष्‍टय: ।।

    Meaning : O bride, you have walked one step with me, so we have become friends; hence you be my provider of food. Help me to fulfill my vowed religious observances (vrats). May we have many sons and may they have a long life.

  2. उर्जेव्‍दिपदीभव-सामामनु० ।।
    (The rest should be chanted like the mantra at number 1 and the same should be repeated when each mantra is chanted.)

    Meaning : O bride, you have walked two steps with me; hence may you become one who will give me strength.

  3. रायस्‍पोषायत्रिपदी भव० ।। (Rest as No.1.)

    Meaning : O bride, since you have walked three steps with me, may you become one who will increase my wealth.

  4. मायोभव्‍यायचतुष्‍पदी भव० ।। (Rest as No.1.)

    Meaning : Since you have walked four steps with me may you increase my happiness.

  5. प्रजाभ्‍य: पंच‍पदी भव० ।। (Rest as No.1.)

    Meaning : Since you have walked five steps with me, may you give birth to children.

  6. ऋतुभ्‍य:षट्‌ पदी भव० ।। (Rest as No.1.)

    Meaning : Since you have walked six steps with me may you give me pleasure in all seasons.

  7. सखासप्‍तपदीभव० ।। (Rest as No.1.)

    Meaning : You have walked seven steps with me, hence our friendship (relationship) has become strong.

        Then the priest should touch the foreheads of the bride and groom to each other and should consecrate them by sprinkling water (abhishek) from the pot placed in the north-east direction, onto their foreheads. Then chanting the fifteen mantras such as Shantirastu…. (शांतिरस्‍तु० ।।) etc. the priests should bless them. Thereafter the bride and groom should sit facing the east and complete the sacrificial fire (hom). Then the knot from the couple’s clothing should be untied.

13C Importance

        Saptapadi are the seven steps taken to liberate themselves, together from the seven regions (lokas) that is earth (bhu), nether region (bhuv), heaven (svarg), maha, jana, tapa, satya and the seven sheaths (koshas). According to the law, marriage is considered as solemnised only after the seven steps (saptapadi) are completed.

14. The rituals after marriage – feeding a morsel

        On the wedding day the bride and groom dine together. At that time the bride utters the name of the groom in a poetic form and feeds him a morsel of food. After she has given him a morsel of food the groom too feeds her a morsel. This is a popular custom.

15. Taking the marriage fire (vivahagni)

home and the marriage procession (varat)

        On the day following the marriage the sacrificial fire of entering the house (gruhapraveshaniya hom) is performed. The fire required for this ritual is taken by the couple from the marriage fire (vivahagni), to their home. When the members of both parties escort the bride and groom to the groom’s home in a procession it is known as a varat. The entire arrangement of the procession is to be made by the groom’s side. When this procession begins, fireworks like sparklers, etc. are lit.

 Reference : ‘Sixteen Sanskars and some other rituals’, published by Sanatan Sanstha.

Bharatiya Sanskrutikosh. Publishers: Pandit Mahadevshastri Joshi, Secretary, Bharatiya Sanskrutikosh Mandal, 410 Shanivar Peth, Pune 411 030.
Vol. 3 to 10: First edition Vol. 1 and 2: Second edition
1. Vol 8, Pg. 730
2. Vol 8, Pg. 731

3. Sanskruti – Pujan. Page 221 – 222, Publishers: Shri Vallabhdas Zaveri, Sadvichar Darshan Trust, ‘Vimal Jyoti’, 2nd floor, 6/8, Dr. Wilson street, V.P. Road, Mumbai 400 004.