Jainism is one of the oldest religions of the world. It is theoretically supposed to be in existence for thousands of years and its first thinker was Lord Adinath, who is referred to as the first Tirthankar. Lord Mahavir (599-527 BC) was the 24th Tirthankar. He revived Jainism and is regarded as the founder of Jainism. A Tirthankar is not an Avatar (god-incarnate) but is God in human form
The Jains have their own marriage customs and like most Asian weddings have elaborate rituals. A Jain wedding ritual commences seven days before the actual date of the wedding. These are
a) The first step in a Jain wedding is the Laghana Lekhan. In this ceremony the marriage alliance is fixed at the girl's house. The date and time is fixed and a puja is performed. The boy's family is then informed the date and time of the wedding along with a gift of sweets, normally laddos.
b) The next step is the Lagna Patrika Vachan which is conducted at the boy's house. The lagan Patrika Vachan, which is a sacred letter is read out by the Priest
c) The third step is the Sagai. Generally the Lagna Patrika Vachan and the sagai are performed on the same day, but they can also be performed separately. The sagai (engagement) is a formal ceremony and the couple exchanges rings. It is followed by an announcement of the impending marriage. The groom has to wear a traditional turban and offer puja during the sagai.
e) On the wedding day the baraat which is a small procession of the groom and his family is welcomed at the girls' house. An aarti is performed by the female members of the house. Aarti is a ritual and part of puja, in which wicks soaked in ghee (purified butter) or camphor are lighted and offered to the groom. Just before the ceremony an elaborate ritual of washing the groom’s feet is done by the bride’s parents.d) Mada Mandap is the next part of the marriage ceremony. Generally it is conducted about 2 days before the actual wedding is scheduled. It is conducted at both the grooms and brides home. This consists of an elaborate set of rituals which is conducted by the priest.
f) The last part is the mangala geet. These are traditional songs sung by the women folk. It is followed up by the Granthi Bandhan. This consists of a part of dress of the bride like the sari pallu being tied to the shawl of the groom. The couple then takes 7 rounds around the sacred fire. On completion the couple is declared man and wife. The bride is now gifted by the parents of the bride to the groom and is called the kanyavaran ceremony
The couple is blessed by the priest and the elders and all join for a vegetarian feast. Jain weddings compared to other Indian weddings are comparatively austere and not that extravagant.
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