Written by Sri Swami Chandrashekarendra
Even if it is not possible for us to celebrate a marriage according to
sastras in respect of the age of the bride, could we not be true to
tenets at least in the matter of expenses? As I have made it clear so
a marriage has nothing to do with questions of money in any sense. Even
though we have neither the will nor the courage to act according to the
sastras in all matters, we could at least see to it that marriages are
turned into what may be called an economic problem; in other words we
could follow the canonical texts at least in conducting weddings more
The marriage ceremony is in fact almost as inexpensive a rite as
sandhyavandana. How much is to be spent on it? The newly-weds have to
be presented with new clothes (cotton will do), a tirumangalyam
(mangalasutra) with a piece of gold attached to it. Only a few close
relatives need be fed. At the time of the muhurta an auspicious
instrument must be played. This will cost you a small sum. The other
expense is the daksina paid to the priest. All this is fully in accord
sastras. Even a poorly paid clerk can perform his daughter's marriage in
this simple manner.
If wealthy people make marriages so lavish or showy affair, it would be
bad example for others not so wealthy. The money they otherwise spend
on a music or dance recital or on other items that add glitter to the
wedding must be used for marriages in poor families. This means that
money that is otherwise wasted is converted into dharmic currency. It
should be possible for every affluent man to celebrate the marriage of
daughter economically and save money with which a poor girl can be
married and made happy. "Mass marriages" may be conducted in the
same way as "mass upanayana".
The rent charged for the pandal itself [or the “hall" or mandapa] takes
half the wedding expenses. You cannot hold a marriage ceremony in a flat
even on a small scale. Philanthropists should join together to construct
small mandapas in various localities for the marriage of the daughters
less fortunate people.
There was a time when girls blushed when the very word marriage was
mentioned. Then came a time when young women waiting to be married
pined away at home, cried their hearts out, wondering whether they
would be married at all. Now things have come to such a pass that
women are on their own, not married and working like men in offices.
The very life-breath of our culture, stridharma is being stifled. We
reports of unseemly incidents happening here and there.
What is particularly tragic is that no one seems to be concerned about
finding a remedy for all the unhappy occurrences. What is worse, these
happenings are sought to be justified in terms of psychology, this and
that. Stories are written on the undesirable incidents and films
based on them and encouragement given to wrong-doing. If we question
the people who give encouragement they turn back and speak to us
about freedom of imagination, freedom of art, and so on. In this
republican age there is freedom for everything except for the pursuit of
I started by saying that according to the scriptures questions of money
have no place in the marriage ceremony. Talking of marriage expenses, I
must consider the complaint that a wedding lasting four days(which is
how it ought to be celebrated) can be very expensive.
The sastras do not ask you to perform rituals likely to impoverish you.
marriage proper, the solemnisation of the wedding, is a one-day affair.
The groom must spend the following three days in his own house
observing brahmacarya. During these days there is no need for any music,
nor any nalangu, or any other celebration. Let those who want to reform
the marriage ceremony, think of changing it in this manner.
The groom’s people must tell the bride's parents: The marriage proper
will be celebrated in your house. The remaining three days' functions
be held in our house without your having to spend anything". On the day
following the marriage the householder ( the young man just married)
must bring the "aupassanagni" (the sacred fire in which the aupasana is
performed) to his home. There are mantras to be chanted as this fire is
being brought, as it is placed on the cart, as the bullocks are yoked to
cart, etc. You may do the same nowadays if you go by car or train. In
old days marriage alliances were formed between families living in
neighbouring villages. So it was easy to carry the auspicious fire from
bride's to the groom’s house.
The four- day function may be performed in another way also. The place
where the marriage is celebrated is to be treated as the groom’s house.
Or the three-day function may be conducted in the house of a relative.
No one need be invited for food, not even the girl's family. (The
do not permit the completion of the marriage rites in a single day.) The
priest has to be paid a daksina-this is the only expense.
According to the sastras, the groom must observe what is called
"samvatsara diksa" from the day of marriage (diksa for one year); he
practise brahmacarya during these months. The marriage is to be
consummated only later. Such practices have however changed. Until the
recent past, the groom observed diksa at least for four days if not for
whole year. Now everything is performed on a single day. One is
reminded of the saying: “The donkey is reduced to an ant and the ant
itself eventually vanishes into thin air".
During the marriage, Andhras wear cotton clothes dipped in turmeric
water. However well-to-do they are they follow this simple custom. In
North too women wear ordinary clothes at weddings. We must try to
follow their practice.
One of the marriage rites is “pravesa homa" which is performed when the
groom returns to his house. He has to carry the sacred fire of the
marriage with him and perform aupasana in his home. It is for the sake
convenience -- and with the approval of the sastras - that it is allowed
be done where the groom's party stays for the marriage. To perform a
marriage in a temple as a one-day ceremony - and “be done with it" - is
not right. Even rich people who spend lavishly on clubs and races follow
this practice because of their reluctance to conduct the function
according to the sastras. Unfortunately, the poor are likely to follow
example. There is no extra expense involved in performing a marriage in
the sastric manner as a four-day function.
How are marriages celebrated today? The bride is one who has already
attained puberty and the marriage is gone through in just one day. On
following day the bride is taken to the house of her in-laws. Another
unsastric practice is that of consummation on the same day as the
The groom is expected to observe brahmacarya at least for three nights
after marriage. There are eight types of brahmacarya. Even though a man
cannot be continent throughout, he must remain chaste at least on
certain days. The least that is expected of him is celibacy for a
of three days after the marriage. This rule is no longer observed.
the consummation, as mentioned before, is on the same day as the
wedding is solemnised.
The undesirable practices now associated with the marriage samskara are
due to the anxiety to curtail expenses. If all rites are performed on
same day there is a saving in the matter of feeding the guests, the
etc. Curiously enough, despite such an anxiety to curtail expenses,
is a great deal of ostentation in our weddings. To obviate the expenses
incurred thus, parents perform the upanayana of their son along with the
marriage of their daughter.
We must try to reduce the unnecessary expenses incurred in performing
Vedic samskaras. Friends and relatives can help much in this respect.
They need not attend a marriage or upanayana even if invited. Instead,
the money that they would otherwise spend in travel may be presented
to the bride's [or the brahmacarin's] father. The fewer the invitees
present at a wedding the less expensive will it be to feed them.