Naandi Shrardham ritual in South Indian wedding
There are a lot of rituals and customs going on in the South Indian Wedding. One of them is the Naandi Shrardham ritual. This type of ritual has a special place in the weddings in Kannada. Usually Kannada weddings are known for their simplicity. One of the reasons they are so simple is because they incorporate a lot of ceremonies and rituals. Most of these are pujas that are done to fulfill the customs.
How the wedding begins?
The Naandi custom actually begins with both families. This custom is said to be done in honor of the Naandi devtas – more on this later. Also, it is believed that if someone does the Nandi Shrardham correctly then they will be blessed with a good marriage. It is said to evade evil eye from the ceremonies and the couple and their families. This is one of the reasons why this ritual is performed before marriage. Both the bride and the groom have to perform the ritual.
The Naandi Shrardham custom is performed at different times to seek blessings from ancestors. However in the terms of marriage it is solely performed to give blessings to the couple. The father of the groom also has to perform the Naandi at his house. Before the groom takes off from his home to reach the bride’s home, the groom’s father performs this ritual. Usually this custom is carried off at the expense of the bride’s family. This is not in line with the customs because the ‘vrata sampaanam’ is the custom of the groom’s side of the family itself.
This custom usually begins on the day of the marriage. It can also take place a day before the marriage. Nowadays the timings differ and the customs have also started to differ. However, the essence of the ritual remains the same. It is a custom marking the marital journey of the groom. Early morning on the day of the marriage this takes place. However, it also takes place at the marriage venue nowadays instead of the groom’s home.
Who are the Naandi Devtas?
In order to know what you are praying for, you have to know who you are praying to, right? If you have such a question then you have come to the right place. The Naandi Devtas are said to be the holy Pitris or ancestors who live in the Bhuvash and Suvah dimensions in ether. They are the ones who build the Sukshmadeha or the ethereal body on which physical atoms create our physical body. Yes, they are literally called the ones who found us.
Since the carrying forward of one’s family is a process that involves their assistance, their worship is done. The Pitri Devtas are essential to the formation of the body and therefore the soulful gratitude to them is taken first. They are also called forth when there is a necessity to get extra blessings. This is why they are called forth in all auspicious events.
How is the Naandi Shrardham carried out?
Then their feet are washed off while the Shrardham mantras are chanted. It is said that the Pitri Devtas who are invoked for the ceremony are to be sent off from the physical plane as soon as the rituals are over. They do not stay in our dimension and they are not to be invited frequently into the households.
Once the ceremonies begin, to please the Naandi Devtas a leaf-laden branch of tree is set up. Five married women or Sumangalis are called forth to wash the branch of the tree with milk. After this ritual, usually gifts of clothes are given to both the bride and the groom. Traditionally, a Saree is given to the bride and a white dhoti is given to the groom. The gift is a symbol of auspiciousness.
Usually there is the custom of inviting 12 Brahmins from each side. But nowadays given the unavailability of Brahmins in the wedding season, hardly anyone is ever able to call forth 12 Brahmins for the ritual. So the couple has to do it with as many Brahmins as they get for the ceremony.
Should son invoke ancestors?
Usually by the rule, the son has to invoke the ancestors after the marriage. This rule has now been discarded. It is believed that if the father is alive the son should not call forth the ancestors. Some priests are of the belief that this notion is wrong. The invocation of the same is necessary post marriage and the groom must do the same.
Also, not just the groom’s side of the ancestors, but the grandparents of both the bride and groom’s side are invoked. This is why it usually takes a lot many ancestors to perform this ritual. Each priest handles each ancestral lineage. Two priests each carry forward the Visve Deva. Even the maternal and paternal ancestors of the bride and groom are invoked. It takes a lot of energy to stabilize the worship as there are a lot of Naandi Devtas present at the event to bless the couple.
The Kasi Yatra is a part of the Naandi Shrardham too. This is a ritual where the groom pretends to leave the hall of marriage in order to take Brahmacharya. It is only a mock where he pretends to take Bhrahmacharya. The bride’s father then intervenes and asks the groom that the time for celibacy or Bhrahmacharya is over. He asks her to get married to his daughter and take up the Grihastadharma. Nowadays this ritual is performed under a lot of scrutiny from the younger members of the family.
The Grihastha or the Grihastadharma is known as one part of the path of righteousness. Hence it is to be followed with utter dignity. In the Hindu terms, the path of Grihastha is taken after the age of 25. It is believed that taking up Grihastha at this age will lead to spiritual enlightenment for both the bride and the groom. Hence this is the culmination of the Naandi Shrardham ritual.
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