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The Hindu culture and traditions are full of rituals that govern the daily routines of every person, with the aim of enhancing an individual’s life. These rituals are highly orderly and take place throughout all stages of individuals’ lives, from birth, marriage, death and rebirth.
Birth rituals in Hinduism
When a woman gets pregnant she does not announce it to other people, but waits for them to notice, either by missing her menstrual period or by widening of the waist. The brothers of the expectant woman may take her to the parent or choose not to take her. Regardless of where the woman is, people treat and take care of her in a special way, as she prepares for the birth of the child. The woman referred to as the ‘jacca’ should not be out in the dark and should not pass by some trees, which the Hindu believes houses some evil spirits (Kapoor, 64). A ceremony, called arathi. takes place where the jacca receives gifts of good luck and special food.
In preparation for the birth, Hindus set up a room, called Sovar, which is separated from the rest of the house and does not have any windows because the birth is said to be a very private affair. The position of it is the one that is not under the beam of the main house, not facing south. When delivery time comes, the woman enters the room with a midwife only, since the Hindus consider the process as polluting.
On delivery, Hindus give attention to the time of delivery, which determines the horoscope for the born child. On the birthday, the priest performs a specific ceremony for the mother, while women of the extended family brew herbal tea. During this time the baby and its mother undergo cleansing to remove the pollution (Bhalla, 24). Then the mother and the child return to the main household. In cases of a baby boy family and friends get together for celebrations; such celebrations are minimal for a girl child.
Indian Wedding Ceremony
Indian wedding has three key parts that are the prewedding, main wedding, and post-wedding. The pre-wedding entails a party and the preparations made on the night before the wedding. It is a celebration where both sides of the families get a chance to meet, dance, and have fun with each other. Pandit conducts prayers for the couple and their families for a happy life. During the day of the wedding they build a wedding altar, called mandapa, where the mother-in-law welcomes the groom; his feet are washed and offered honey and milk. The attempts of the sister-in-law to steal the shoes are called successful if the money is paid for them.
The parents give the bride out but do not eat anything before the wedding so that they can remain pure. The groom’s scarf gets tied to the bride’s saree that signifies their union. During a similar ceremony the elders tie a cord around their necks to keep off evil spirits. A mangala sutra gets tied around the neck of the bride while exchanging the rings. They then conduct a mangal ceremony where they circle a sacred fire for four times. At the end of the ceremony, the couple takes seven vows to seal their marriage. After the wedding, the bride who lived with the brothers then leaves for her groom’s family. After the wedding, another fun game for the new weds called Aeki Beki takes place. Then the day ends with a word of prayers requesting love and happiness for the new weds.
After the death of a person the body remains at home before burial or cremation, which takes place within 24 hours. Preparation entails washing and anointing the body with a mixture of sandalwood and water mixed with turmeric powder. The family garbs the dead body with the new clothes and mourners can bring flowers. Mourners prefer wearing white attires, since they consider it to be inappropriate to wear black attire during mourning. Priests and the senior members of the family conduct the ceremony (Kapoor 70). Cremation takes place and the ashes and the bone fragments are immersed in a holy river. Later, everyone takes a purifying bath, but the members of the family remain in a purified state for a couple of days, the number of which is ranging from seven to thirteen (Dennis 130). After closure of the mourning period, close family hold a ceremonial meal and offer gifts to charities or the poor.
Indian Special Holidays or Events
People say that Hindus have a holiday for every day of the year. The exact number of the holidays is unclear, but there are more than one thousand festivals, celebrated by the Indians. Most of the celebrations typically depend on the cycle of nature, marking the changes of seasons. Indians hold events to celebrate the harvest and to encourage land fertility. Generally, Hindus hold festivals to avert malicious influences, to purify people, to renew the society, bridge over serious moments and resuscitate or stimulate the critical powers of nature (Dubois 198). The rituals entail a number of rituals, which include prayers, processions, worship, music, dancing, eating, drinking, lovemaking and feeding the poor and less fortunate members of the society.
The main festivals, celebrated in India include Holi, which is the festival of spring and colors, Rama Navami, the festival of the birth of Lord Rama, Krishna Jayanti, the festival for renewing vows between sisters and brothers, Kumbh Mela, which is a pilgrimage to four cities in India every 12 years, Ganesha, the festival of the Ganesh, Dassera, which celebrates victory of Rama over evil spirits, and Navaratri, which is the festival of Shakti.