Anyone interested in Hinduism may notice something peculiar about their wedding ceremonies — they are only carried out at night. The reason why this is so fascinating is that it only occurs within the North Indian Hindus. Is it tradition? Is there a religious reason behind it? The answers are more intriguing than you might think.
Hindu marriages — specifically those occurring in Northern India — are typically held at night for a few different reasons. In history, a major influence was keeping marriages safe from anti-Hindu forces such as the Mughal. Hinduism also plays a role, as the moon signifies calmness and the North Pole Star wishes prosperity and stableness as the starry wives of the Seven Rishis.
If you are looking to find out more about why Hindu marriages happen at night, you have come to the right place. We are taking an in-depth look at the many reasons why Hindu marriages, mostly in the Northern parts of India, occur at night.
Why Do Hindu Marriages Happen at Night?
Only Northern Indian Hindus hold their marriage ceremonies at night. This is because of two major reasons — one being the history behind the Northern Indian Hindus, and the second being their feelings and beliefs about nighttime and astronomy.
A Look at History
A bit of history is necessary to understand why Northern Indian Hindu marriages started occurring at night. It dates back to a time when India was beginning to flourish, and anti-Hindu enemies began to sprout. India began to be looted by Muslim nations as well as the English, who would eventually rule over them.
Northern Indian Hindus wanted to preserve the culture that was being steadily taken from them. This meant going against the new laws that were being imposed, such as the conversion of religion and forced marriages. Hindus decided to save and protect their daughters and sisters and began holding marriage ceremonies at night to keep them private. (Quora)
The Religious Aspect
Marriages occurring at night were not only impacted by intruders and safety, though. Religion plays a major role in why marriages are held at night in Northern Indian Hindu culture. There are a few different reasons that Hindus, with their connection to astronomy and religious figures revolving around nature, insist on having weddings at night.
While South Indians are descendants of Dravidians, North Indians are descendants of Aryans. Both have different times they consider to be auspicious, or simply “successful.” For Dravidian descendants who considered themselves Suryavanshis, “Descendants of the Sun god,” this time was right after the sun rose. Therefore, a successful wedding — otherwise known as a Kalyanaman — would occur after the sun rose.
On the other hand, North Indians, with an Aryan background, believed the time of auspiciousness occurred once the sun set. This is because they considered themselves as Chandravanshis, or“Descendants of the Moon-god.” The North Indians wanted a blessing from the Moon at their weddings; therefore, they would only have them at night. (Quora)
The Meaning of the Sun and Moon
The overall meaning of the Sun and Moon as it relates to Hinduism is an important factor, too. According to Hinduism:
- The Sun is a symbol of power and fire. It is associated with the immortal world of Lord Brahma.
- The Moon is a symbol of coolness and calm. It generates a feeling of well-being.
Northern Indian Hindus believe that a marriage should be held under the Moon to have a calm and successful relationship. Because Hinduism views marriage as a moral obligation to the gods, rituals that promise a happy marriage are essential for them.
The Importance of the North Pole Star
The North Pole Star is given the name Dhruva in Hinduism and means firmness, stability, and permanency. During the ceremony, the bridegroom will show the North Pole Star to his bride. By showing the Dhruva to his bride, he wishes his wife to prosper and be stable. He wants her to shine in all aspects of life, just as the vibes of the Seven Rishis have.
Since every star, including Dhruva, can only be seen at night, marriage ceremonies need to occur at night. Together with the calm energy of the Moon, marriages are thought to prosper and be calmer as opposed to those with ceremonies held in the sunlight. (Daily Hunt)
Other Northern Indian Hindu Wedding Rituals
Aside from holding the wedding at night, other Northern Indian Hindu wedding rituals should be followed for a successful wedding. These weddings are important events because they are not only bringing two people together but their families as well.
The wedding rituals span over three days and involve the following:
- Engagement — Signifies accepting of the proposal.
- Shagun Ceremony — Here, the mother of the groom visits the bride’s home and provides them with gifts ranging from clothing to jewelry and anything else that is acceptable.
- Mehndi — During the Mehndi ritual, which is a very important step in a Northern Indian Hindu marriage, henna is applied to the palms and feet of the bride. This is thought to be auspicious, just like getting married underneath the Moon and stars.
- Sangeet – This can be held in the home of either the bride or the groom. The Sangeet involves singing to and teasing of the bride and groom while elders share their blessings on the new lives that will be starting.
- Haldi — Another promising part of a Northern Indian Hindu marriage is Haldi. Haldi occurs when turmeric paste is applied to the bride, and turmeric sticks are tied to her wrists. Once this has been applied, she is no longer allowed to leave home until the wedding.
- Ceremony — The ceremony has three parts: The kanyadaan is when the bride is given away to the groom. The panigrahan is when the groom holds his bride’s hand and announces his responsibilities. Lastly, the saptapadi is when the bride and groom take their seven rounds around a fire.
- Bidai — The final part of a Northern Indian Hindu wedding is Bidai, in which case the bride is sent with her groom to start their new lives. (Weddings Online)
Importance of Marriage in Hinduism
It is important to understand why Hindus place such an importance on success and ceremony during weddings. Marriage is incredibly important in Hinduism and is a very sacred affair. The marriage is thought to stretch beyond a single lifetime and can last up to seven lifetimes.
Once a couple has married, they are expected to uphold the family name. With this in mind, the two must remain faithful and truthful to one another. They must fulfill their respective roles according to Hindu law as well. The couple is expected to stick together, no matter what happens during the marriage, as illustrated by Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Overall, Hinduism believes that marriage is a sacred institution that was created by the gods for the benefit of humans. Hinduism does not believe in marriage as being a contract; it considers marriage to be a social and moral responsibility. (Hindu Website)
A Hindu wedding is much more than a lavish party with singing and dancing. There are hopeful reasons behind each of the rituals found in a Hindu wedding, and Hindus take great pride in their marriages. One aspect that is only found in Northern Indian Hindus is marriages occurring at night with the sole purpose of calmness and success being delivered by the Moon and stars.