If there is one thing that can be said about the underlying philosophy of Indian culture, it is “Beauty is Truth and Truth is Beauty”. There are many implied meanings of this phrase. The word “Truth” stands for reality, the nature surrounding us, the understanding of any concept or situation without any bias etc. The word “Beauty” also has several interpretations. It may mean: the clarity with which one can see, the sense of elation that one feels both physically and mentally, the kind of sensation from which one can get spiritual strength, motivation and good will. With this kind of philosophy, the Indian culture reflects the concept of beauty in every walk of life.
I am going to speak about the beauty as reflected in the practices involved in a Hindu marriage. Also, I will provide an understanding of the usage of flowers, Rangoli and Kajal in this culture for various social events.
As prescribed in the Hindu scriptures (2000B.C), marriage unites mentally, physically and spiritually the man and the woman in a firm bond for raising a family, for serving the society and for continuing the race and the spiritual heritage. The auspicious day selected for the marriage is further reinforced by Vedic mantras (holy hymns and chants).
These hymns are very powerful as they provide a sense of inner beauty and peace. This is similar to what one gets from deep meditation during yogic exercises.
One of the main events of a Hindu wedding is Kanyadanam. In Vedic law, Kanyadanam is considered to be the highest form of a pious duty performed by the bride’s parents. This act corresponds to the bride’s parents giving their daughter to the groom. The next major event is Sumuhrtam, which is when the bride and the groom are supposed to look at each other for the first time (according to ancient custom).
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Each of them places their palm on the crown of the other’s head. It is believed that a form of energy is believed to enhance their attraction for one another. The bride and groom will then walk four times around the sacred fire, taking holy vows that they will lead a life of: Dharma-life of righteousness, Artha-life of prosperity, Kama-life of a happy life, and Moksha-life towards the path of God.
The next step is called SAPTAPADI (seven steps), where the couple takes seven steps around the sacred fire. With each step, they make a promise to each other:
1. The first step for togetherness, respect, honor and prosperity
2. The second step to develop physical and emotional health and strength
3. The third step to bless them with longevity of life
4. The fourth step to acquire knowledge, happiness and harmony
5. The fifth step is to bless them with healthy children
6. The sixth step to enjoy cheerful seasons together
7. The seventh step is to symbolize mutual love, friendship and companionship
Flowers are used extensively to signify purity and to provide a sense of physical beauty. Kajal, an eye makeup is applied daily to maintain a healthy eye and is made from flowers. The advantages of daily application of Kajal are it cools the eye, reduces irritation and burning sensation, helps the eye resist heat of the Sun, protects from eye diseases, enhances the eye borders and makes it look beautiful.
Rangoli is a traditional art of decorating courtyards and walls of Indian houses, and places of worship. The powders of white stone, lime, rice flour are used to draw intricate and ritual designs. Each state of India has its own way of painting Rangoli. Usually floral patterns or different Hindu symbols are drawn. They are attractive and enhance the extensive symmetry that is observed in nature.