Feb 1, 2011

Swayamvar

Swayamvar or swayamvaram is an ancient Indian custom mentioned in the Ramayana and Mahabharatha (and no longer in practice in modern India). Nowadays swayamvar is taken to mean wedding. 


It is a custom by which a bride-to-be (mostly a princess) selects her husband. Usually an auspicious date is fixed. On that day, all eligible men from far and wide come to the country of the princess. The eligible men can range from kings and princes to paupers. The princess then goes around inspecting them (much like the Head of the State who inspects the guard of honor) with a flower garland in her hand. When she reaches the man who catches her fancy, she puts the garland on him and they are supposedly married. That's all! So simple! There can be variations also. The King can put some criteria for deciding the abilities and skills of his daughter's husband. I think that was like a preliminary test to sift the husk. For example, Draupadi's father had put the criteria that he would give his daughter's hand to only that man who could shoot his arrow correctly at the eye of a rotating fish which was perched high in the centre of the royal court and that too only by looking at the image of the fish in a pond . (Talk about shooting the semen in the right direction!).

Sometimes if the princess is already in love with a young man, then the swayamvar makes it a lot easier for her.  (Yes, even in ancient India girls had to be secretive about her love affairs).


That was the age of the princes and princesses.



18 comments:

  1. Perhaps you should try this, Miss Runaway, provided that you can return your new husband within 14 days if you're not satisfied. Otherwise, the whole thing would be too hit and miss.

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  2. "Hey! Clear the way in the old Bazaar
    Hey you!
    Let us through!
    It's a bright new star!
    Oh Come!
    Be the first on your block to meet his eye!"

    -UD

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  3. I can't imagine what it would be like to have an arranged marriage.

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  4. You know, if we were princesses right now we'd wish for this kind of a wedding. But in the era of princesses, ordinary girls like didn't have a choice.

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  5. interesting. uhmm aren't it hard for princesses to marry paupers? i mean isn't there a law (like in England) that a royal should only marry a royal blood?

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  6. @Mr.Gorilla: I shall try this provided you send your gorilla brethren over.

    @UD: Its not a first come first serve basis!

    @ Eva: :-)

    @Shruthi: Its the princess in me who wish such a thing to get married to a prince. ;-)

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  7. @Maria: It depends on the princess whether or not she would marry a pauper. No harm in the handsome intelligent pauper trying his luck.
    Is there such a law in England. Is the Middleton girl of blue blood? My knowledge is that the future king of England can marry anyone other than a Catholic.

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  8. I'm your newest follower, very interesting blog, am looking forward to reading more!

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  9. That's beautiful. It reminds me of some of the customs I saw in southern China. Are you going to try it yourself?

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  10. I like that she does the choosing for the most part. Those outfits are amazing, btw!

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  11. @ Lazarus: Welcome..

    @ Shopgirl: This is an old custom, no longer in practice.

    @ Lydia : :-)

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  12. How I wish they continued with the tradition!!!

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  13. was that a standard practice among royalties then ? niceee :)

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  14. the picture you chose is interesting, I like the colours, and the patterns on the Lady's arms :) very pretty!

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  15. @Caterpillar: Me too...

    @Jaya J: I don't know whether it was a standard practice. But it was practised the.

    @ Bz: Thanks. The pattern is made by putting mehendi(a paste made from henna leaves) on the palm.

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  16. Interesting and informative post, I appreciate your efforts of explaining the concept of “Swayamvar”. Thank God! We guys don't have to participate in Swayamvar these days to get a bride.

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  17. Thank for providing information of
    Marraiges like "Swayamvar". Really nice article.

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