Introduction - 2
C. Additional thoughts from SrI UV (Continued):
The following is a high-level compilation of the different steps in the marriage ceremony that ANDAL describes as part of the dream that she has about her marriage with kaNNan. The main point that can be noted from this write-up is that the different steps involved in a vedic marriage of today is not any different from the marriage ceremony that ANDAL describes in vAraNamAyiram. It is of great satisfaction that at least the sacred ceremony of marriage has retained its vedic aspect unchanged for several centuries now. This write-up deals only with this one aspect of vAraNamAyiram. The detailed explanation of the individual pASuram-s is covered separately. The main purpose of the current write-up is to highlight the different activities that ANDAL describes as part of the vedic marriage. There are bound to be overlaps between this write-up and the write-ups for the individual pASuram-s.pASuram 1:
vAraNam Ayiram -arrival of the bridegroom to the stage for the niScitArtham.
SUzha valam vandu: The Urvalam (going around the village) is the function where the 'varan' (mAppiLLai) who is coming for the wedding is welcomed by the bride's family.pASuram 2:
nALai vaduvai maNam enRu nALiTTu - Bridegroom being seated for niScitArtham - date being fixed for marriage.
pALai kamugu pariSuDaip pandal - This refers to the decoration of the pandal with the stems of pAkku maram (kramuka - betelnut trees) with their branches; nowadays, probably because we don't get the pAkku maram, vAzhai maram is used instead.pASuram 3:
indiran uLLiTTa - description of all elders blessing the upcoming marriage (presence of indra, durgA, etc.); in other words, the niScitArtham etc., take place with the blessings of elders, and all arrangements are done in consultation between elders (mandirittu).
In ANDAL's case, there is no room for delaying the marriage after niScitArtham, and so the marriage is proceeding soon after. She is being decorated with the kUrai p puDavai, which is being put on her by durgA (antari), the sister of kRshNa.
Couple of things to be noted here: The decoration of the bride by nAttanAr during niScitArtham itself with puDavai, is a procedure that is done just to give a chance to nAttanAr to know the lakshaNam-s of the bride.
mandirak kODi is the saree that is given to the bride as a conclusion of the mandiram (AlOcanai). The mantra called "uduttaram ArOhanti" is chanted by the vaidika-s and then the saree is offered to the bride, with the blessing that she should be held in great esteem by her husband-to-be, and as a result, that she should be held in great affection by her in-laws etc.pASuram 4:
- nAl tiSai tIrtham koNarndu - The prokshaNam with holy waters;
- nani nalgi - well sprinkled with these holy waters;
- kAppu nAN kaTTa - a reference to rakshA bandhanam
kaNNan is yet to come to the maNa mEDai (next pASuram). But here we already see the description in pASuram 4, about rakshA bandhanam being described. SrI UV explains that even though the current practice is that rakshA bandhanam takes place only after the bridegroom arrives at the maNa mEDai, in the ancient times, the rakshA bandhanam used to be performed separately for the bride and the bridegroom prior to the arrival of the bridegroom at the marriage pandal. He gives support for this from the grantha called gRhya ratnam. According to this, the sequence is as follows: 1) both a~nkurArpaNam and pratisara bandham take place for the bride and the bridegroom first, 2) then the bridegroom's party goes to the bride's place to seek her as the bride for the bridegroom, 3) and after the elders of the bride give their consent, the bridegroom starts towards the bride's place in a procession, and 4) the bride's party comes forward to welcome the bridegroom. It is this sequence that is described by ANDAL. SrI UV comments that even if the bridegroom ties the rakshA bandhanam on the bride's hand, the procedure used to be that the bridegroom then returns to his place, and comes back again as implied in the pASurams here.
nAl tiSai tIrtham koNarndu: Even though pramANam is not found for bringing the sacred waters from the different holy rivers, still it is true that ma~ngaLa snAnam is performed for the bride and the bridegroom, and avAhanam is performed through mantra-s, adding the holy waters from ganges and other holy rivers prior to this; hence, whenever it is possible, SrI UV observes that it is desirable to bring the puNya tIrttams for managaLa snAnam.
pArppanac ciTTargaL: Refers to the brAhmaNa-s who are well-versed in the veda and vedAnta, practice the way of life prescribed for them, and have SraddhA associated with their way of life. SrI UV points out that while there may be many brAhmaNa-s who may be able to chant the mantra-s, the maximum phalan is obtained when the brAhmaNa-s who are SishTa-s also (i.e., those who also practice their way of life as prescribed), and hence the reference to "ciTTargaL".
pallAr eDuttu Etti - A large number of such brAhamaNa-s with the right qualifications is emphasized. The term eDuttu can refer to chanting the mantra-s in ucca sthAyI, or it can refer to the selected and appropriate mantra-s.
- kadir oLi dIpam kalaSam uDan Endi - With the lighted lamps inside kalaSa-s or kuDam, - Sadir iLa ma~ngaiyar tAm vandu edir koLLa - the young women with their delicate walk from the bride's party welcome the bridegroom. SrI UV compares the Sadir naDai of these women with the "adir naDai" of the bridegroom. In other words, the women walk their lovely walk with bent heads, in order to carefully watch that the lamps remain lit, and also because of their modesty. The first two lines of this pASuram are also indicative of the acts undertaken as parihAram for any dRshTi dOsham.
- aDi nilai toTTu - The bridegroom is wearing the sandals that are given by the bride's side as He walks over from His place to the bride's place. From SrI UV's nAcciyAr tirumozhi vyAkhyAnam, it seems that it is prescribed for the bridegroom to walk into the marriage hall with the sandals, and it is not appropriate to remove the sandals and give them to someone else before entering the hall.
In the first 5 pASuram-s above, ANDAL has described the preliminaries prior to pANigrahaNam, which is the most important function in the marriage. The next pASuram describes the pANi grahaNam.pASuram 6:
- mattaLam koTTa vari Sa~ngam ninRu Uda - The mattaLam etc. start when the bridgroom arrives, and continue until the pANi grahaNam is completed. The word ninRu signifies this.
- kait talam paRRa - This refers to pANi grahaNam. SrI UV comments that when the bride and bridegroom are shy, they might just hold only the fingers of each other, instead of holding the palm of each other. The hands should be held fully, with the palm of the bridegroom gripping the palm of the bride, signifying that from then on, whatever dharma they perform will be jointly performed, and the benefits jointly shared. The hand is the indriya that is used for action and for consumption. "pANi grahaNAt tu sahattvam karmasu tathA puNya phaleshu"; " saha dharma carI tava, pANim gRhNIshva". SrI UV points out that while mA~ngaLa sUtram is just a sign that the girl is married, the true vedic rite of importance in marriage is the pANi grahaNam.pASuram 7:
The agni pradakshiNam is described here. Coincidentally, the seven steps around agni are described in the 7th pASuram of this tirumozhi.
- tI valam Seyya - It is significant that the seven steps around the agni are taken, while the bride and bridegroom are united in pANigrahaNam together. This is an important rite in the marriage ceremony. With agni as the witness, this rite signifies that the relationship that is established through the pANigrahaNam is irrevocable for all future. The significance here is that the couple are together taking a vow with agni as the witness, that they will be united in all their dhArmic activities for all future births (Ezhu Ezh janma~ngaLilum) , in all future worlds ( Ezhu Ezh lOka~ngaLilum), always (eppOdum), everywhere (e~ngum).
- vAi nallAr - refers to the chanting of veda mantra-s by those who chant correctly, and the power in their word that when they chant with a certain benefit in mind, that benefit will definitely be achieved.
- nalla maRai Odi - Some interpreters interpret the term nalla here to mean "excluding devatAntara mantra-s". SrI UV observes that the mantra-s that are already prescribed for devatAntara-s in the respective sUtra-s should not be eliminated. This is according to svAmi deSikan in SrImad rahasya traya sAram. However, additional devatAntara mantra-s that are not prescribed in the sUtra-s should not be included.
- pASilai nANal paDuttup paridi vaittu - The hOma is performed only after the tI-valam is performed - prAg hOmAt agnim pradakshiNam kRtvA. So at this stage, ANDAL is only referring to the laying of the nANal - grass (darbham) surrounding the agni - paridi vaittu, and then going around the agni.pASuram 8: ammi midittal:
SrI UV points out that while the last pASuram involved His holding her hand, this pASuram deals with His holding her leg, and placing it on the ammi (ammi midittal). SrI UV remarks that at this time, it is common that the bride's and the bridegroom's parties have a fun exchange on the ethics of the husband bending down and holding the foot of the bride. However, it is tradition that the bridegroom takes the foot of the bride and places it on the ammi, such that the toe touches the ammi.
The mantra involved is "aSmeva tvam sthirA bhava" - May you live long like this stone, wishing the bridegroom a very long life. The next, the lAja hOmam, is also to wish the bridegroom a very long life.pASuram 9: pori iDal:
This is the next event described by ANDAL. The brother(s) of the bride have a major role in this event. From SrI UV's commentary, there are three times that the pori is offered as hOmam, and if there is more than one brother, the different brothers help in performing this (the use of the plural en aimAr - my brothers, suggests this).
The details are given: the function performed by the brothers involves kindling the fire, seating ANDAL in front of the fire to do the hOmam, placing the bride's hand over the bridegroom's hand, and making them offer the nel pori as the offering in the fire.
niRutti: SrI UV comments that there must have been a practice to perform this hOmam while standing, instead of while being seated. Performing the hOmam while being seated is also common. The description is that the bride has the pori in both her hands, and then the bridegroom places both his hands on both sides of this a~njali by the bride, and then the bride and bridegroom make the offering.pASuram 10:
Up to this point in the marriage ceremony, the bride and the bridegroom have been kept to the standards of brahmacarya, with no decorations with sandal paste etc. At this stage, after they have been sitting near the hot fire for the hOma etc. for prolonged intervals, being made to go back and forth, prostrate several times, etc.; this final act involves applying kumkumak kuzhambu (kumkumam appi), sandanak kuzhambu (kuLir SAndam maTTittu), etc., to cool down their bodies, and giving them a neerATTam with maNa neer (ma~njanam ATTa).Abbreviations:
UV = SrI uttamUr vIrarAghavAcAriyAr
sarvam SrIman nArAyaNAyEti samarpayAmi.