Jain culture believes in peaceful co-existence and mutual dependence and beneficence through interaction between individuals. Jains have faith in forgiveness and friendship and marriage is considered to be a worldly affair and marriage is recommended so that the children born to the couple would also follow the same dharma. The typical Jain marriage consists of certain simple rituals and they criticize the practice of dowry. Marriage to the Jains is a declaration by the couple that they desire to be together for a lifetime. According to them, marriage should be grand but there shouldn’t be any wastage of time or money.
Like many other communities, Jains also prefer to get their sons and daughters married within the community so that the children thus produced would follow the same dharma. So they look for a boy or a girl within their community through word-of-mouth or through newspaper matrimonial.
Though simple yet a Jain wedding has a number of pre-wedding, wedding and post wedding rituals.
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Laghana Lekhan: It is the very first ritual of any Jain wedding and is held at the bride’s house. This is where the marriage is fixed. In this ritual a pooja is performed by a priest at the girl’s house and the muhurat or the time of the marriage is decided and accordingly it is sent to the boy’s house.
Lagna Patrika Vachan: in this ceremony, the lagan patrika vachan is read out at the boy’s house at some auspicious time. This might also happen at the time of engagement. The groom then performs a Vinayakyatra puja after which the priest reads the letter. Sagai: This ceremony, held at the groom’s house, is also called the engagement ceremony. According to the rituals, the groom wears a traditional headgear, washes his hands and does Vinayakyatra puja. After this the brother of the bride is supposed to apply tilak on his forehead. The brother also gifts him a gold ring and chain, clothes some sweets and money. Then the priest reads the lagan patrika and the groom seeks blessings from the people present there.
Mada Mandap: This ritual takes place at both the bride’s and the groom’s place a day or two before marriage. Here, the priest performs all the rituals.
Barati: This ritual takes place on the arrival of the groom’s procession at the girl’s place on the day of the wedding. Here, the bride’s brother is supposed to apply tilak on the groom’s forehead and give him clothes, sweets, coconut and money and then the groom also applies tilak on his brother-in-law’s forehead and gives him a coconut.
Aarti: in this ritual the women at the bride’s place welcome the groom by doing an aarti on him and sing the Mangala Geet.
Phere: This ceremony is done on a pre-decided auspicious moment. Here, the bride and the groom are taken to the mandap where the girl is seated on the right of the boy and they take seven vows after which they exchange positions. This ceremony is an integral part of any wedding in India.
Kanyavaran: It is also known as Kanyapradan and this ceremony means presenting the bride to the groom by the bride’s parents. While doing this, the parents or the uncle of the bride keeps one rupee and twenty-five paise and some rice on bride’s right hand. And thus, the groom accepts the bride from her parents. During this, the priest pours water on the couple’s hands and chants mantras thrice.
Havan: After phere, the priest chants mantras of the Peethika, Atha Gathu, Atha Nistarak, Atha Surendra, Atha Parmarajadi and Atha Paramesthi and offerings are also made. After these, the priest chants Shanti mantra nine times.
Granthi Bandhan: In this ceremony, a knot is tied of the bride’s sari to the groom’s shawl by a married woman. Then the couple takes four rounds of the havankund or the sacred fire and mantras are chanted by the priest. In the first round the bride leads and in the other three she follows the groom. The women sing mangal geet. After takin the seven vows, the bride sits on the left of the husband and is called Vamangi, which means being the left half of the body.
Post Wedding Rituals
After these ceremonies, the parents and the priest offer blessings to the couple. This is followed by a grand feast, which is strictly vegetarian in case of Jains. Then, the bride is bid farewell by the parents. The parents also give alms in the Jain Temples as thanksgiving for the successful marriage.