Sociology Assignment: Social Research on Indian Traditional Weddings
Rituals are key components of social life that link us as individuals to groups and to the broader society. Rituals, as we have studied, are common to many different types of groups such as nations, government departments, cultural groups, families, and friendship networks. Rituals also come in many different forms and are sometimes very elaborate and emotionally intense while others are quite informal and emotionally low key. All rituals, however, aim to connect people to each other in the name of some greater cause or process that transcend the self.
The sociology assignment requires you to conduct some sociological research on social groups by researching a public ritual. Select a public ritual, research the event, describe key elements of the ritual, and then apply the sociological perspective to it to interpret.
In sociology, the term ritual refers to the formalized behavioral mode within which the members of the community and the groups get engaged regularly. As evident in this sociology assignment, the religion represents one of the main contexts in which the rituals are practiced and however, the scope of the ritual behavior gets to extend well beyond the religion. Thus, different groups have distinguished practices of some kind. As opined by Clarke (2017, p. 48), the group's solidarity is the sense of fellowship and the community displayed by the members of the collective who are united by the shared responsibilities, interests and purposes. Thus, the rituals performed by the different groups help in strengthening the instinct of the group along with the loyalty which is felt by the members of the community. This ritual helps in making social life possible, especially for the members of large groups.
The present study focuses on the Indian ritual that is the Indian traditional weddings, the multi-day affairs which involve many intricate ceremonies and is called Vivaha in Sanskrit. These are the colorful ceremonies along with the process and Hindu rituals that vary widely, as each of the states in the country performs this ritual in their own traditional style and out of all this, the common tradition Saptapadi (seven steps) exist in each of the traditional styles as the couple has to take the seven steps around the fire with each consisting of a promise and hence, the couple become legally wedded wife and husband. Thus, the study also inculcates the framework of the ritual along with the application of the sociological perspective upon the Indian Weddings.
1. The groups/follower/fan/participant of the ritual
India being a secular country, there are a wide variety of communities that resides together and thus, there are different communities that participates in the marriage rituals. All the different communities have different norms and rituals whichthey observe, forsociallyacclaiming two individuals husband and wife. Every community has its own rituals and traditions regarding their caste weddings and the wedding consist of the bride and groom's family as well as relatives. The participants of the ritual, irrespective of the communities, mainly consists of family, relatives and friends, both from the side of the groom as well as the bride. Of all the different communities, the Hindu marriage is the most elaborate ritual that is observed. The priest asks both the families to perform the rituals and customs as per the tradition and however, people are invited to witness the wedding. The ceremony is performed for three days and all the rituals are considered within that consists of the Sangeet and Mehendi, the wedding ceremony, and the reception celebration. The color red is the most preferable color in the wedding as it connects to the rising sun and as per astrology, the planet that is in charge of the marriages is Mars which is red in colors and thus, it stands for fertility and prosperity.
2. The purpose of the ritual
The Indian wedding is one of the sacred rites which incorporate the timeless customs and rituals which extend for several days and the center of the wedding is not only the bride and groom but also celebrates the coming together of two families. As per the Vedasand other relevancy religious scriptures pertaining to different religions, the marriage is considered as the sacraments that is the transformation from the studentship to the householders and is the foundation of the other two stages that are retirement and self-realization. As stated by Collins, (2016, p.197), the whole of both families are highly involved in every aspect of the tradition in Hindu wedding. This ceremony not unites the bride and groom but also unites both of the families which is the celebration of the two families that are coming together along with the celebration of the commitment and the sacred love between the couple.
3. The key elements/ action of the ritual
The Hindu wedding ceremony at the core is significantly the Vedic yajna ritual along with the three key rituals that are universal such as Kanyadaan, Panigrahana, and the Saptapadi that are respectively, the giving away of the daughter by their fathers and are voluntarily holding the hands near the fire that signifies the unity, love, and prosperity. However, there are ten elements that are used within the Hindu wedding such as, Swagatam and Madhuperk that is the welcoming of the groom and the family Lord Ganesha prayers and Poonyahvancham Vadhuagaman that is the arrival of the bride Mangalashtakam and Sankalpa that is the mutual approval Kanyadan that is the giving away of the bride Akshatropanam and Panigrahanam that is the expectations from Married Life MangalsutraBandhanam that is the Commitment of the couples to Each Other VivaahHoma that is the Worshipping of the Sacred Fire LajaHoma and Agni Pradakshina that is the starting of the Marriage Journey Saptapadi that is the taking of the Marriage Vows along with Seven Steps
4. The emotional mood of the event
The Hindu wedding creates positivity around the environment where it is conducted and among the families that are involved in the rituals. The bride and groom keep a joyous feeling among them as they are going to be tying a knot with the bond that will exist till eternity and will create love and compassion within their lives. Both the individuals are passionate about each other and about the lives they are going to be surviving together and accepting each other and their families. Moreover, there is an emotional mood of sadness and tears as in the Indian rituals the bride has to leave the parent house and have to get along with the groom’s family and thus, during the time of Vidai, the bride’s family sheds tears for their daughter going away from them.
5. The symbols used in the event to generate emotion
The symbols used for the Hindu wedding rituals are the lights to make the ceremony bright and shiny that helps in creating a joyous environment that helps in engaging the people within the ceremony. The ritual also consists of the sounds and music as its tradition consists of one of the ceremonies named Sangeet and Mehendi, where the members of both families perform dance and music and the whale people invited get involved into the party and reception that also consist of the lights, music and sounds.
6. The creation of a sense of belonging, solidarity and connection
As opined by Heinskou and Liebst (2016, p. 357), the sense of belonging refers to the human need which means the acceptance as the member or the part and it is important in seeing the value in life and in also coping up with the intense pain emotion. Thus, in Indian Marriage the sense of belonging comes within the bride and groom as they are going to be dependent upon each other with sharing their emotion, love, anger, pain for the whole life. Moreover, the solidarity and connection is created through the ritual as it not only unites the bride and groom but also their families. The families then create a relationship with each other and however, the bride and groom get united in all aspects in order to be together in the fortunate as well as unprecedented times forever.
7. The role played by various people within the ritual and the status they assume
The Indian marriages consist of various individuals who tend to complete the whole ritual, as it consists of the family of the birds and the family of the groom, as they people come along and get engaged with each other. The father of the daughter does the Kanyadaan that is giving away the bride to the hands of the groom and the groom’s father accepts the bride as the member of their family from now. There is the priest who chants the Mantras and makes both the family and the couple to perform the rituals and traditions of their respective caste. In some of the Indian marriages, the mothers of both the individuals are not permitted to witness the marriage due to certain superstitious beliefs, and furthermore, the relatives of both the sides are invited to join the wedding ceremonies in order to bless the couples for their upcoming future.
Applying the sociological perspective
8. Interpretation of the rituals utilizing the sociological perspective that includes,
• Roles- The traditional Hindu ceremony includes the Priest who enchants the rituals and traditions that are performed by both the families of the bride and groom (Murphy 2017, p. 108). The ceremony also includes the siblings and the grandparents whose presence makes the ceremony repaying, and the groom and bride seeks for their love and blessing. The relatives of the families are also involved, who come for blessing the couples and join the ceremony for fun, happiness and joy.
• Values- As stated by Walby and Spencer (2018, p. 66), the Indian wedding emphasizes the three values such as harmony, growth, and happiness. Thus, each group belonging to the ceremony represents the values of happiness and harmony among the couples and their family, and may they live a peaceful and joyous life forever. The elders present in the marriage bless the couples with growth and enhancement in their life and strengthening of their bond till eternity. Moreover, values like trust, loyalty, respect, honor, righteousness, and the appreciation for the knowledge, service and sacrifice made within the couple are the vows taken within the Indian marriage that are accepted by the couples.
• Norms- The Hindu marriage act of 1955 involves the secured right of marriage for the bride and groom who are Hindu by birth and are also bound under the sacred bond of marriage under the wedding ceremony. The wedding is solemnized as according to the customary ceremonies and rites of the either parties or rituals are performed as per the tradition followed. However, the solidarity rises within the couple with the completion of the ceremony, as from then they are in a bond of love, adjustment, and joy for the whole life.
9. The Indian wedding connected with the broader society as the ritual and ceremonies that are associated with the marriages within most of the culture are primarily surrounded by the fecundity and also validate the significance of the marriage regarding the continuation of the people, clan and the whole society. As evidenced by Collins (2019, p. 45), it also asserts the communal or the familial sanction if the mutual choices and the understanding of difficulties along with the sacrifices which are involved for making the element that is considered to be the lifelong commitment along with the responsibilities of the spouses and the children. Thus, the marriage ceremonies involve the symbolic routes that are often sanctioned by the religious orders that confer good fortune for the couples. The ritual that is most universal is one that symbolizes the sacred union and all elements involved within the marriages and its ritual greatly vary along the different societies as such the Hindu wedding rituals are as per the rites and tradition of the Hindu society and thus, connect with the broader society as well. Hence, these are the traditions that are to a certain extent shaped up by the religious practices and beliefs across the world and helps in declaring the legal bond of the couple. Hence, within the Hindu traditions, the marriages are the highly elaborated affairs that involve the prescribed rituals and are generally arranged by the parents of the couples with determining the ceremonial dates by the astrological calculation and here, the community and society participation is highly accepted. Thus, the Hindu marriages connect well with the society as it happens in accordance to the norms and rules followed within the society and the way the people lead the life.
The present study focuses on the concept of ritual and group solidarity that sheds light upon the Hindu ritual and the way it enhances the group solidarity. The study incorporates the ritual framework of Hindu marriage ceremonies and demonstrates each and every aspect involved within along with the description of the ritual and tradition of the respective marriages followed by the different caste within the Hindu society. The study also determines the connection of this ritual with the wider community by applying the sociological perspective which may help in relating to the broader society.
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Collins, R., 2016. Micro-sociology of sport: Interaction rituals of solidarity, emotional energy, and emotional domination. European Journal for Sport and Society, 13(3), pp.197-207. Collins, R., 2019. Emotional micro bases of social inequality: emotional energy, emotional domination and charismatic solidarity. Sociology assignmentEmotions and Society, 1(1), pp.45-50.
Heinskou, M.B. and Liebst, L.S., 2016, June. On the Elementary Neural Forms of Micro Interactional Rituals: Integrating Autonomic Nervous System Functioning Into Interaction Ritual Theory. In Sociological Forum (Vol. 31, No. 2, pp. 354-376).
Murphy, S.P., 2017. Humor orgies as ritual insult: Putdowns and solidarity maintenance in a corner donut shop. Journal of contemporary ethnography, 46(1), pp.108-132.
Walby, K. and Spencer, D.C., 2018. Tree planting as neo-tribalism: Ritual, risk boundaries, and group effervescence. Emotion, Space and Society, 28, pp.60-66.