Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Marriages In Mithila

Marriage is the basic institution of the society. In every known human society, some form of the institution of marriage exists. Marriage gives religious and legal sanction to the matrimonial relations. Marriage is considered necessary and sacred ritual in Hindu Culture. It is a religious duty and purificatory rite. According the Manu, the man who is not married has not fully perfected his or her personality and must regard as incomplete and imperfect. His personality is developed and completed only upon the union of two persons, his wife and himself. Marriage to Hindus is a religious duty and purificatory rites; it is a sacrament, being based upon religious ceremony.
Marriage is considered the major one of the samskaras, which means religious purification. Every Hindu is supposed to pass through these samskaras (life-cycle rituals) at the proper time and age. Marriage is the ritual to start householder’s life i.e. grhysthashrama.

Mithila, the birth place of Hindu goddess, Sita was part of the ancient kingdom of Videha during the later Vedic age. Historically, the name Mithila has been more frequently used for a somewhat fluid cultural region than for a definite political or geographical unit. The Land of Mithila comprised the present districts Madhubani, Darbhanga, Samastipur, Vaishali, Muzzaffarpur, Champaran, Mongyr, Saharsa, and Purnea of North Bihar, India and Terai under Nepal lying between the districts of Dhanusha, Mahottari, Sarlahi, Saptari, Rautahat, Sunsari and Morang. Its total area was 25,000 sq miles.

In the early nineteenth century, Prithivi Narayan Shah of Gorkha Kingdom, united the several kingdoms of hills and plains and became the founder of modern Nepal. Since then Mithila Kingdom merged in two countries Nepal and India. At present, the districts Dhanusha, Mahottari, Sarlahi, Saptari, Rautahat, Sunsari and Morang fall in Mithila region of Nepal.

People who live in this region are Maithilis. The social organization of Maithili people is based on the Hindu occupational castes, a number of categories arranged in a vertical ladder of hierarchy. Maithili people speak Maithili language and in some parts of Mithila Bhojpuri language is also used. The people of Mithila region are very courteous and hospitable. They welcome their guests like god (Atithi Devo Bhava) is the slogan of Mithila. Every Maithili is saddened by separate ideas and they learn to live in spiritual brotherhood. The norms and culture of Maithili people are very polite just like their language and manners. Mithila is land of fairs and festivals. There is not a single month in the year which has the absence of festivals. Some of them are religious in nature and some of them are not. These festivals are celebrated even today. One of them is Marriage. Hindu Marriage is irrevocable. The parties are bound to each other until death of either of them; The rituals are usually differ from society to society as apart from the Vedic rituals there are many local rituals existing in social practices in different societies. Maithilis follow the traditional system regarding the marriage i.e. arrange system. Their wedding is full of numerous Vedic rites and local rites. The priest performs Vedic rites and the women perform local rites mostly. The marriage of maithilis involves many stages. In maithilis marriage involves not only the relatives and neighbors , it involves the large number of occupational castes of the village i.e. Brahman (priest caste), Hajaam (barber), Dhanuk (cook/servant), Lohar(blacksmith), Sonar(goldsmith), Chamar(drummer), Dom (basket maker) etc for different purpose.

There is women’s song tradition in the wedding among Maithilis. The wedding songs are related to the ritual proceedings as well as celebrative aspect of the wedding. Women sing while they are performing they are performing rites, while rites are being performed by men, or by the priest. They also sing before and between the rites as well as while to as place where they have to perform rite. Every Maithili woman is expected to be able to sing. Songs are sung in the absence of any kind of musical instrument. All women participate on an equal level when they are singing. The theme of songs may vary form one rite to another. Likewise song tradition, there is the tradition of painting walls of nuptial chamber (Kohbar ghar), on the wall beside the entrance to the room of household deity (gosain ghar), and on the papers to perform a few of the most important wedding rituals. These paintings are an assemblage of symbolic images of lotus plant, the bamboo grove, fishes, birds and snakes in union and represent the fertility and the proliferation of life.

In a high class named Kayastha in maithili society, there are about 42 rituals from pre-marriage to post-marriage day. Each ritual in marriage of Maithilis has it's own importance and meaning. Every relation, people of every caste are given importance in marriage of maithili people. The rituals and songs are the lovely part of their marriages. In overall the culture, tradition and rituals of maithili Hindus are very different and lots of things can be found when explored.

For more details please visit www.mithilanepal.com and contact Mr. Ranjit Saxena for any research purpose.