Decoding the Jain Vidhi for Marriage


  • “Jain-vidhi” for Marriage? What’s that? Does that even exist or have you made it up?
  • What rubbish! There is no such thing as “Jain-vidhi” for marriage. How can Jainism advocate rituals related to any “worldly desire”?
  • Wow! Is it a new trend? ‘Coz I’ve never heard about it! 
  • How is it different from our ‘regular’ marriages? Does it have “Feras”? Does it involve fasting? 
  • Marriages are supposed to be full of fun! How is one supposed to enjoy in a marriage that’s more like a Pujan?
I had been bogged down by innumerable questions like these, since the day I announced that I would follow the “Jain Vivah Sanskar Vidhi” (commonly referred as “Jain-vidhi”) in my marriage. Although common for Jains residing in western regions like Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, people here in Kolkata were very apprehensive regarding “Jain-vidhi” for marriage. While a section of people accepted ignorance and were curious to know more, another section strongly dispelled it stating that there could be no religious texts supporting the “Jain-vidhi” of marriage, as a religion strictly opposing any worldly desires cannot advocate such rituals.

Therefore, to dispel certain myths and to answer WHY all Jains should follow these rituals, I decided to pen this note in a Q&A format. I will also try to give a brief overview on the rituals that form a part of this vidhi in this post.


Q1. What is the “Jain-vidhi” for Marriage? 


To answer this question, we have to go back to the time of Lord Adinath when humans were completely dependent on Kalpavruksh (“wish-fulfilling trees”) for their needs. With the passage of time gradual changes occurred and the yield from the Kalpavruksh trees reduced leading to problems, quarrels and disputes among people. To guard against these disputes and to live in peace and harmony, people formed groups headed by a “Kulkar” (A number of people collected to form a ‘Kul’ and the head of the group was called ‘Kulkar’ whose duty was to remove discord and establish order). This era of Kulkar system was known as the period of twins (Yugalik). A human couple used to give birth to a twin- one male and one female. This twin would become husband and wife on reaching adulthood. The twins used to lead a happy and contented life and died a natural death together. King Nabhi of the Ikshawaku clan was the seventh and the last in the line of Kulkars. His wife was Queen Marudeva. 

Lord Adinath was born to the 7th Kulkar, King Nabhi & Queen Marudeva. When lord was crowned the king, he taught his people six main professions and 72 sciences enabling his subjects to lead a contended lifestyle. That leads us to the chapter of Lord’s marriage. The institution of marriage came into existence after he married Sunanda and Sumangala to set an example for other humans to follow. Although, Adinath Bhagwan’s twin was Sumangala, Lord also married Sunanda, when he saw that her twin had died tragically. This was the first marriage ever witnessed and the Lord himself taught the universe, the rituals to be followed in a marriage. 

Kalikal Sarvagna Acharya Shri Hemchandracharya in his book Trishashtipurushshalaka Charitra mentions the details of the rituals which took place during the Lord’s marriage. Even Munishri Chirantanacharya’s work in Prakrit (translated into “Rushabh ni Shobha hu Shi Kahu”) mentions the magnificence the first wedding of the universe - of Lord Adinath. 

Q2. Do we have any religious text which provides explicit details of rituals to be followed as per Jain Vidhi of Marriage? 

Contemporary modifications of the marriage rituals shown by Lord Adinath were made 600 years ago by Acharyashri Vardhaman Surishwarji Maharaja in 1411 AD in his work “Achar-Dinkar Granth”. In the granth, Acharyashri states the rituals to be followed for 16 Sanskars of Gruhast Jeevan (sacraments of life) like Garbhadhan Sanskaran Vidhi, Janmasanskar Vidhi, Naamkaran Vidhi, Adhyayan Arambh Vidhi and Vivah Sanskar Vidhi among others. The entire rituals to be followed for a wedding as per Jain beliefs find a place in the 14th section of the granth.
A later edition of Achar Dinkar Granth

Q3. Why should anyone follow the Jain Vidhi for marriage? 

Today, most of the Jains, get married in the way as Brahmin pandits show them. More than following the rituals, marriages have been converted into shows of pomp and fanfare. The entire piousness and sanctity of the rituals has been reduced to a side show and people are more interested in the glamour and various exotic foods served to them in the weddings they attend. Being Jains, it is our foremost duty to follow the teachings laid down by Tirthankar’s and revered Acharya Bhagwant’s. Making offerings to Mithyatva Devi-Devta’s creates further karma-bandh. 

It is also pertinent to note that although Shwetambars have mostly stopped following the “Jain-Vidhi”, Digambar’s usually follow the Jain Vidhi in their marriages (The rituals in Digambar Jain Vidhi are somewhat different from the Shwetambar Vidhi). 

Q4. How is a Jain Wedding different from a usual wedding? 

The biggest tangible differences that one can notice in a Jain Wedding are that footwear is not permitted at the place of marriage and any type of fooding is not allowed during the entire process to maintain the sanctity of the rituals. 


Idols of 24 Tirthankars in various precious stones 

Although a majority of the rituals are similar to those of Gujarati Weddings ( Varmala, Hastamelap, 4 Fera’s etc) the difference lies in the fact that all the offerings are made to Tirthankara’s and Devi-Devtas as per Jain Cosmology and not to Hindu deities. Also, the sacred chants have been derived from Achar Dinkar Granth which makes them completely different from other weddings.

Further, the Jain Vidhi rituals include Pujans of Arihant Parmatma, Sidhha Bhagwant’s, 45 Agams, Navgraha’s, Das Dikpal’s, 16 Vidya Devi’s, 24 Yaksha’s, 24 Yakshini’s, Kulkar’s, Ashtamatruka, 12 Rashi, 27 Nakshatra’s consolidating the offerings to the entire Jain cosmos.

Chitra-Pat's on which Pujan's can be done

Q5. Does this mean that the wedding takes place in front of the idols of Jain Tirthankara’s and Demi-gods/ Goddesses? 

Yes. However, all the offerings are made to Mangal Murti’s and not on idols on which Anjanshalakha has been conducted.

Q6. Can you give an overview of the rituals that take place as per Jain Vidhi? 

Following are the major rituals that take place in the Jain-Vidhi of Marriage-
  • Sthapana Vidhi- After a chant of Namaskar Mahamantra, all the idols of Lord are ceremoniously installed at the wedding venue.
  • Atmaraksha- Protection of soul from unholy elements.
  • Mantra Snan - Purification of the soul by Sacred Chants.
Mantra-Snan performed by the guests
  • Kshetrapal Pujan- Seeking permission and paying homage to the Kshetrapal Dev of the land
Kshetrapal Pujan
  • Mindhon Bandhan - Tying of Holy thread on the hands of Bride and Groom
  • Arhat Pujan- Pujan of Arihant Parmatma
Arhat Pujan
  • Siddha Pujan – Pujan of all Siddha Bhagwant’s
  • Gandhar Pujan – Pujan of all Gandhar Bhagwant’s 
  • Shastra Pujan – Pujan of 45 Aagams
Shastra Pujan
  • Chovis Yaksha- Yakshini Pujan – Pujans of 24 Demi God’s and Goddesses of Tirthankara’s
  • Dash Digpal Pujan – Pujan of Guardians of Directions
  • Solash Vidyadevi Pujan- Pujan of 16 Demi-Goddesses of Learning
  • Baar Rashi Pujan – Pujan of Astronomical Signs
  • Nav Grah Pujan – Pujan of 9 Sacred Planets
  • Satyavish Nakshatra Pujan – Pujan of 27 Pious Constellations 
  • Toran Pratishtha – Installation of a Toran prepared from the leaves of ‘Ashoka’ tree
  • Vedi Pratishtha – Installation of the Vedika where Marriage rituals take place
  • Panigrahan (Hastamelap) - The Bride’s parents give their daughter to the groom by putting the Bride’s right hand into the Groom’s right hand while reciting sacred verses for the stability and longevity of their married life. 
Hastamelap
  • Pradakshina – The couple walks around the fire clockwise four times representing the sacred direction in life. Each circumambulation represents the four basic goals of humanity- Dharm, Arth, Karm & Moksh.
Pradakshina
  • Varmaala - The exchange of garlands between the Bride and the Groom, which symbolize the unification of their hearts, minds and souls.
Varmaala
  • Abhisinchan Vidhi – Instead of Sindoor, the groom blesses the bride with Tirth-Jal (water from holy rivers/ tirth’s)
  • Saat Pratigna - The couple takes seven vows to strengthen their married life. The vows are taken over 7 beetle nuts representing Sustenance, Strength, Wealth, Knowledge, Children, Health and Love.
Taking 7 Pratignaa's
  • Arti- Mangal Dipak
Aarti
  • Kshamayachna – Seeking forgiveness for mistakes. 

Further pujan’s of Ashtamatruka and Kulkar take place a few days before the wedding at the Bride’s residence and Groom’s residence respectively. 

Q7. Can any Pandit conduct the rituals as per Jain Vidhi? 

No. Only a Vidhikaar having a profound knowledge of Aachar Dinkar Granth can conduct a wedding as per Jain Rituals.

Vidhikaar pronouncing sacred chants

Q8. Are the Groom and Bride supposed to fast on the day of the Marriage? 

It is always urged that a pious ritual should be accompanied by any Tapasya. Therefore the Bride and Groom should preferably do an Ayimbil followed by Paushadh on the day of their marriage. Any other Tapasya (Upwas, Ekashna, Beyashna) can be also done. However, if not possible, the Bride and groom have to atleast do Navkarshi and Choviar and practice Brahmacharya on the day of the marriage. 

Q9. Can any other customary vidhi be added to the Jain Vidhi of Marriage?

Vidhi’s like Varbediyu (welcoming the groom by Bride’s sister) and Pokhna (welcoming the groom by Bride’s mother) which do not cause any ashatana to Arihant Parmatma can be added after obtaining prior permission from Vidhikaar. 

Q10. Marriages are supposed to be full of fun! How is one supposed to enjoy in a marriage that’s more like a Pujan?

More than fun, it is important to begin a new chapter of life with sanctity and pious rituals. However, Jain weddings can be fun too! The rituals are very intriguing and addition of music makes the wedding magical. The onus is upon the Vidhikaar to explain the rituals so that all can remain engrossed!

Although the correct path to salvation is acceptance of "Saiyam" and leaving all worldly desires, not all of us can succeed in that.  Therefore, I wish to urge all Jains, especially the youth (who may be getting married in times to come) to follow these rituals. I also request all to share the details of this vidhi with friends and family as most of us are ignorant of the fact whether such rituals exist or not.  Further, if any of your questions on Jain Vidhi remain unanswered, please feel free to ask me by commenting on this post or by mailing me at csarpitshah@gmail.com. I will be glad to assist you in any manner possible.

At the end, I wish to thank my family, my in-laws, my wife and my friends without who's support I would not have been fortunate enough to have a "Jain-Wedding" :).

P.S. - Following are the different vidhis apart from Vivah Sanskar Vidhi specified under the granth-






Comments

  1. Awesome write up and pretty much clears everything to give knowledge about marriage as per jainism. Kudos to you for taking this initiative.. may lord arihant bless you both :)
    Have a happy married life.

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    1. Thanks a lot bhai for such heartfelt wishes :)

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  2. Great article. It would help to lot of people who wants to know about 'Jain-Vidhi'. Thank you for such a detailed article.

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  3. Truly well clarified and nicely writen

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  4. Great arpit Bhaî.. Heartily appreciate it..

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  5. Thanks for sharing the details for jain vidhi.i have one doubt ,as wedding would be conducted in halls,99% we prefer AIR CONDITIONER hall.for jain vidhi idols are bought to this all n poojan is also done in AC.is this right to bring god to attain our wedding yeah we should go to him.

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    Replies
    1. Your concern is very genuine as Jainism prohibits the use of AC in the first place. But we can remove that concern by not using Air Conditioners in the wedding ceremonies. Secondly, as the idols used are Mangal Murtis so the question of Ashatana does not arise.

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  6. Was fortunate enough to see the whole jain vidhi for marriage being performed...was an eye opener....as clearly explained, the only difference was absence of footwear and food which was readily accepted by all d guests....

    Processes for every thing has been mentioned in Jain literatures....one just need to look into them....

    Kudos to you arpit for taking the initiative....

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    1. Thanks a lot Avni Di...obviously without the ready acceptance by all the guests, it would not have been possible :)

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  7. For Jain Vidhi it's really good and well written butas it says that Hindu Deities are not there n it's known fact that Jain is different religion and not to be taken as Hindu as says the Religious Gurus involved..
    My point as legal fraternity involved that will some one move Hindu Marriage Act n certificate given by registrar of marriage still says the same so should Jain Marriage Act would be in place now n it can be done n implemented with Jain as Minorities too..
    Nevertheless your marriage as per vidhi is need of hours with less of halla golla n with total process n protocol is really wonderful to see....
    Stay Blessed you write well.... Keep writing....

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    1. Thank you so much for such heartfelt wishes :) I absolutely agree with your point Keyurbhai that the legal angle does not consider the Jain Marriage act. Even my marriage registration was under the Hindu Marriage Act , as the process of Hastamelap and Feras is similar as in Hindu Marriages.

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  8. For Jain Vidhi it's really good and well written butas it says that Hindu Deities are not there n it's known fact that Jain is different religion and not to be taken as Hindu as says the Religious Gurus involved..
    My point as legal fraternity involved that will some one move Hindu Marriage Act n certificate given by registrar of marriage still says the same so should Jain Marriage Act would be in place now n it can be done n implemented with Jain as Minorities too..
    Nevertheless your marriage as per vidhi is need of hours with less of halla golla n with total process n protocol is really wonderful to see....
    Stay Blessed you write well.... Keep writing....

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  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  10. Arpit gr8 work :)
    Keep it up. Am looking for such articles from long time.
    BTW nice blog, will surely go thru all articles.

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  11. Above article is very useful to know about "Decoding the Jain Vidhi For Marriage" The biggest tangible differences that one can notice in a Jain Wedding are that footwear is not permitted at the place of marriage and any type of fooding is not allowed during the entire process to maintain the sanctity of the rituals. Jain Matrimony site provides proper matching brides and grooms for Successful life partner.

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  12. Hi. I have a question regarding pheras with agni. As per Jainism, non violence is what is followed. Having pheras with agni would not violate this principle?

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    1. No, it would not violate the principles of Jainism. Although the word fire has been used, it is just used symbolically. The Pradakshina's (i.e. the feras) are to be conducted in witness of the flame, which is just a large diya and not exactly a fire. Even Jains light lamps and diya's in temples. Deepak Puja is also done. Aarti is also conducted.

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    2. hey Arpit Shah , I m very much thankful for your wonderful write up , and elaborating the Jain Vidhi. Even my dad n mom had married by doing Jain Vidhi long back 33 years back. hope the coming generation will follow the foot steps of Lord Adinath.

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  13. You can opt for water. Agni is not compulsory.

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  14. 32 years ago, we were married by Jain Vidhi , and found quite an odd long ritual specially ... Did not approve of Moti shanti recited Loud on Mike when everyone else in the hall maybe eating , wearing shoes, and other issues too ...

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  15. Hi Arpit great story can you please give me the contact who performs Jain Vidhi for marriage

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    Replies
    1. I currently do not have his phone number, but you can contact him - https://www.facebook.com/gautam.boricha.94

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