In the above photo you can see my husband ready to go to Kashi yathrai and my anna (elder brother) holding the umbrella for him and trying to change his mind. With extra effects of flowers falling from the umbrella.
Kashi yathrai refers to an age-old Brahmin ritual where the groom “decides” to take up ‘sanyaasam’ (i.e. asceticism, monkhood) for spiritual pursuit. He would ultimately be ‘convinced’ by the bride’s father to return and take up “grihastham” or family life and that the bride will assist in his subsequent spiritual pursuit. For the Kashi Yathrai, the bride’s father would have to buy (as in general practice) an Umbrella, Hand fan, Bhagwad Gita book, Sandals.
Aside … Four stages of life in Hinduism:
- The First Ashrama – “Brahmacharyam” or the Student Stage
- The Second Ashrama – “Grihastham” or the Householder Stage
- The Third Ashrama – “Vanaprastham” or the Hermit Stage
- The Fourth Ashrama – “Sannyasam” or the Wandering Ascetic Stage
The maapillai (groom) will then agree and garlands will be exchanged by the bride and groom (maalai maatral). The process of maalai maatral may be complicated by the groom’s side carrying the groom and the bride’s side carrying the bride and each side making it difficult for the other side to correctly place the garland. Basically traditional family entertainment.
They would then head to a swing (oonjal) in the mandapam. Respected womenfolk of the household will then perform short rituals with classical singing to ward off “evil eyes” as the bride and groom are seated on the oonjal.
They then proceed to the podium in the mandapam where rites of the marriage – muhurtham – are performed. The climax is when the bride is seated on her dad’s lap as her dad does (kannigadhaanam) and offers his daughter to be taken care of by the groom. As the priest then chants mantrams, the groom ties a “thaali” or “thirumaangalyam” as a necklace around the bride’s neck where the groom put one knot (muduchu) and other two knots are put by the groom’s elder or younger sister, as all the guests shower their blessings (symbolized by rice grains that are distributed to all guests to shower onto the bride and groom).
This symbolizes the actual wedding and the newly-weds take their marriage vows in seven steps (sapthapathi) as they walk three rounds hand-in-hand around the holy fire (agni).
Above photographs were taken at my wedding in Chennai. Other sources of info: My appa (father) and Wikipedia
Kashi is also known as Varanasi the final pilgrimage spot for Hindus for ages. Kashi is the oldest living city in the world. Hindus believe that one who is graced to die on the land of Kashi would attain salvation and freedom from the cycle of birth and re-birth. Ganges in Kashi is believed to have the power to wash away the sins of mortals.
Kashi has been a symbol of Hindu rebirth. Knowledge, philosophy, culture, devotion to Gods, Indian arts and crafts have all flourished here for centuries. Also a pilgrimage place for Jains, Kashi is believed to be the birthplace of Parsvanath, the twenty-third Tirthankar.Kashi is also famous for its trade and commerce, especially for the finest silks and gold and silver brocades, since the early days. Kashi has also been a great center of learning for ages. Kashi is associated with promotion of spiritualism, mysticism, Sanskrit, yoga and Indian languages and honored authors such as the ever-famous novelist Prem Chand and Tulsi Das, the famous saint-poet who wrote Ram Charit Manas. Kashi has provided the right platform for all cultural activities to flourish. Many exponents of dance and music have come from Varanasi. Ravi Shankar, the internationally renowned Sitar maestro and Ustad Bismillah Khan, (the famous Shehnai player) are all sons of the blessed city or have lived here for major part of their lives.
~ direct source http://www.kashi.in/