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Title: Kanyadan  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Virginity, Shashi Kapoor, Asha Parekh, Daivadnya Brahmin, List of Nepalese films, List of Nepalese films of 1978–1999, Rucha Gujarati
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For the 1965 film, see Kanyadan (film).

Kanyādān ("gift of a virgin"[1] or "gift of a maiden"[2]) is the most highly valued Hindu wedding ritual.[3][2] There are different interpretations regarding kanyādān across South Asia.


According to contemporary, orthodox Hindu theories, giving their virgin daughter to the husband's family not only increases and ensures the parents' prestige, but it is also believed to purify them of sin. Kanyadan mainly reveals that the wife is a form of Puruṣārthas like Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. The ritual makes the bridegroom to think that his wife is the most precious gift given by the god Vishnu and the bride to think that her husband is a form of Vishnu.[3]

Kanyādān songs

In communities where kanyādān is performed as part of the actual wedding, the ritual is carried out through a variety of kanyādān songs. These songs may include the parents lamenting the loss of their daughter, as well as regretting their economic sacrifice for the wedding. Other songs focus on the groom, for example comparing him to the "ideal groom", the god Rama, in the epic Ramayana. Finally, a kanyādān song may express the daughter’s humiliation for being given away by her father, thus conveying that she has been betrayed.[4] Importantly, the kanyādān ritual occurs right before the Sindoor ritual (sindurdan), which marks the bride’s symbolic loss of virginity.[4]


The Newars of Nepal, for example, celebrate kanyādān as part of what is called mock-marriage (ihi) or bel marriage, often also referred to as first marriage. This first marriage occurs before a girl menstruates and is meant to initiate her into adulthood. Through kanyādān, the girl is symbolically married to the bel fruit, which is a symbol of the god Shiva, ensuring that the girl becomes and remains fertile and that she will never be a widow, even if her husband dies. Besides the virgin-gift offered by the father of the girl, the ceremony also includes a fire sacrifice. Neither of these rites are part of the ceremony accompanying the girl's second marriage to a human husband.[1] Unlike traditional Newars and many South Indian communities, most North Indian communities combine the first and second marriage in one ritual.[1]

See also


Further reading

  • Gutschow, Niels; Michaels, Axel; Bau, Christian (2008). The Girl's Hindu Marriage to the Bel Fruit: Ihi and The Girl's Buddhist Marriage to the Bel Fruit: Ihi in ISBN 3-447-05752-1. pp. 93-173.

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