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History of Lingayat Weddings

History of Lingayat Weddings

Worshipers of Lord Shiva, the Lingayat Community was formed way back in the 12th century by social reformer and philosopher, Basavanna and is present in large concentration in the southern state of Karnataka. The followers of this community do not follow polytheism and worship only Lord Shiva. They are strongly against any kind of caste differentiation in the society.

Since the Lingayats are known for their simplicity, the same reflects in their clothing, lifestyle, rituals and ceremonies too.

Just like other Indian communities, earlier there used to be child marriages in the Lingayats when the girls would be married off before they attained puberty. But with time, child marriages have gradually stopped in the community and marriages are held only among adults. But unlike earlier times in India, dowry was not a part of Lingayat matrimony but with rising discrepancies in community rules and sanctity, dowry is often exchanged these days between the families and these often makes the wedding quiet and expensive affair for the Lingayats.

Marriage ceremonies in the Lingayat community were earlier much more orthodox than they are today, and lasted for as much as four-five days. Lingayats are basically simple people following simple rituals, yet of late, their rituals have evolved keeping in sync with other wedding traditions of the Karnatic community.

After the videghalne ceremony that is the event when the announcing of the marriage takes place with the exchange of nuts and betel leaves among the head of both sides of the families, a puja is offered to Lord Ganesha – which was not the ritual earlier since they are staunch worshippers of Lord Shiva. These days they also worship Lord Ganesha and later another ceremony called the gugul ceremony when a puja is conducted to appease Lord Virbhadra. These traditions did not necessarily exist earlier but have evolved with time in suite with other Karnatic wedding rituals.

Since ancient times, the third day and the fourth day are quite exclusive in nature – the third day involves the marriage guardian ceremony or the celebration of the devaka – which is the same for every Lingayat family.

The fourth day has always involved the bride and the bride-groom riding on a horse-back to the math where the wedding would be taking place and later return to the bride-groom’s place for the bride’s griha – pravesh.

But these days with the concept of nuclear families getting more prevalent in India, and personal religious and aesthetic choices getting more preferences, several Lingayat wedding customs have changed.

Also the wedding customs have changed in terms of food being served since in earlier ages; the staple diet of any Lingayat community member was strictly vegetarian – rice, pulse curry, vegetables and milk products. The two chief dishes of the Lingayat weddings included huggi – a preparation of wheat and milk boiled together which was used to be seasoned with raw sugar and another dish was the holagis or the rolly-pollies – which is basically a preparation of wheat cake which are stuffed with gram flour as well as raw sugar.

These were the dishes which were served at Lingayat matrimony in ancient times but with more and more cosmopolitan touch in weddings, the content of the food has changed but remained vegetarian.