Aman Verma, Ratul Dhiman
As per Hindu way of life, marriage is one of essential ‘samskara’s (sacraments) as it lays the foundation of domestic life.
There are elaborative rituals and traditions associated with marriage and they do vary from region to region, while the basic tenets remain the same throughout. Like elsewhere, in Duggar Pradesh also, the wedding ceremony is a gala affair which is enjoyed by all and it does include elements of social cohesion and cultural congregation. While highlighting the significance of three essential paraphernalia used in Dogra marriages along with their associated rites, this article will take you to joyful scenes of wedding festivities.
Toran has always been an important part in the entire history of Indian art & architecture. Toran is an ornamental or ceremonial gateway or decoration of a gateway. Prominent presence of Stambh Toran at the entrance of Sanchi Stupa indicates the importance of toran as a form of art.
Insofar as Dogra Hindu weddings are concerned, ‘Toran’ is a wooden representation of parrots, affixed together in a frame. It is displayed during the solemnization of Saant ceremony at both the groom’s as well as bride’s houses. Usually, it is kept on the roof facing the entrance or otherwise it is affixed upon the main entrance of the wedding house. These torans can be seen in various shapes and sizes. Going by oral traditions, eleven parrots are displayed which symbolizes the eleven ganas of Lord Shiva. However, torans with nine, seven and five parrots are also used. These parrots are considered as the ‘peheredars’ the protectors as they guard the wedding house and also wade off evil eyes. These parrots are vernacularly known as ‘viah aale tote’ and they are properly worshiped during saant and are fed with ‘babru’ made up of flour and jaggery.
Daryas is a wooden miniature temple-like structure. It is placed along wooden chowki whereupon Navgraha along with various deities are worshipped. Like toran, Daryas also finds place both at bride’s as well as groom’s places. In fact, barring few, all major Shastric (specified by scriptures) as well as Lokik (local) ceremonies take place before the Daryas. The Daryas symbolizes the ‘dehra’ i.e., the temple of much revered Kuldevta and Kuldevi and without their grace and blessings no auspicious ceremony can be initiated. Inside Daryas, photos of Laxmi-Narayan is placed, who are invoked and invited to witness the marriage. It is interesting to note that during the marriage ceremony the bride and groom are themselves considered as embodiments of Lakshmi-Narayan, Sita-Ram, Radha-Krishan and Gauri-Shankar. It is believed that those who participate in the wedding festivities and extend their helping hands in managing the related affairs are blessed by Lord Vishnu and this in turn helps them to curb malefic effects of ‘Manglik dosha’.
Vedee de tote
The essential ceremonies of a Hindu marriage are specified in Vishnudharmottra puran and other shastric and puranic texts.
In a Dogra Hindu wedding, the actual marriage ceremony which takes place at the bride’s house, takes place in two stages called – ‘Anderlee ved’ and ‘Bharali ved’. This all is done in an auspicious mahurat in the wee hours of the day.
‘Anderlee ved’ as the name suggests, takes place within the four walls. During this ‘varpujana’ and ‘kanyadaana’ are performed before the sacred daryas. While ‘Bahrali Ved’ is performed in the courtyard, in the benign presence of panch-tatvas- space, air, water, sacred fire and the earth. The bride and groom are made to sit before the sacred fire beneath a wooden mandap colloquially known as ‘Vedee’ (pronounced as ‘Bedi’). Herein, panigrahana, agnipardakshina (circumambulations around sacred fire) and saptpadi (the seven sacred steps) are performed. It is pertinent to mention here that as per Section 7(2) of Hindu Marriage act 1955, where customary rites of either party to marriage includes saptpadi, the marriage becomes complete and binding when the seventh step is taken.
The Vedee is a pyramid-like wooden structure based on four pillars joined by wooden beams by each other at corners and other four slanting beams emerging from four vertical pillars converging at center atop, at the convergence a parrot carved out of wood is affixed. Traditionally, twenty-one parrots were affixed, but these days only one can be seen. These parrots are known as ‘Vedee de tote’. These parrots are no ordinary parrots, they are considered as divine witnesses and they can be connected with Madana (Hindu God of love) who mounts on a parrot.
During the Bharali ved, the women folk assembled sing songs which are known as ‘Suhaag’, and in reference to these parrots a Suhaag is sung which goes like as follows-
‘Mere babul ji! Vedee de bolde ne tote, tuss bolde kyun nahi?’
(O my dear father! The parrots of vedee are chattering, but why aren’t you speaking anything?)
The dimension of social cohesiveness
In traditional Duggar social setup, toran, daryas, vedee along with the palanquin (doli) were provided by family tarkhan (carpenter). These essential paraphernalia were provided by the family tarkhan out of a sense of responsibility and no cash was taken for the service. Upon completion of ceremonies, the daryas, vedee and palanquin were taken back while toran remained affixed and he was reciprocated with his share called ‘lagg’ which consisted of clothes and sweets. This puts light on the sense of mutual dependence between various communities in traditional Duggar social setup who had particular roles to perform in all kinds of events- of joy as well as of despair, which allowed a unique kind of social-interactions in spite of well-established hierarchies. In days of yore, designing beautiful toran and the parrots for vedee was a way to flaunt one’s craftsmanship.
Presently, with the mobilization in society, this element of social cohesion related to these three essentials is fading away, but can still be observed in rural and semi-urban areas. However, owing to significance of associated rites, toran, daryas and vedee de tote still do find conspicuous place in Dogra marriages. In urban areas, the toran these days are available with pansari and the daryas and the vedee along with the parrots and the palanquin can be availed on rent basis from wedding decorators/ furniture houses.
(Inputs by Santokhu Ram of Vill. Malair, Pouni)
Aman Verma, Ratul Dhiman