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In Kolkata, Women Priests Conduct Wedding And ‘Progressive’ Father Refuses to do ‘Kanyadaan’

Weddings are auspicious events. But it is rare that wedding is touted as progressive. That’s just what happened recently at a wedding ceremony in Kolkata which was conducted by four women priests.

And the women pundits were not even the only thing special about the wedding. In a yet more progressive move, the father of the bride refused to perform the ‘kanyadaan’, the act of ‘giving away’ one’s daughter as gift to her husband and in-laws.

Instead, the father read out a speech at the wedding, adding that his daughter was not property to give away. One of the guests present at the wedding shared an update regarding the same on Twitter. she wrote, I’m at a wedding with female pandits. They introduce the bride as the daughter of and (mom first!!!)”. She further added, “The bride’s dad gave a speech saying he wasn’t doing ‘kanyadaan’ because his daughter wasn’t property to give away. I’m so impressed.”

The post has since gone viral with several people complimenting the family for taking a stand.

Many on Twitter identified the head priestess as Nandini Bhowmick, who apart from being a woman priestess is also a drama enthusiast and professor of Sanskrit. She is well known in Kolkata for performing weddings without the ‘kanyadaan’ ritual. In a 2018 interview to New Indian Express, Bhowmick had said that she did not perform ‘kanyadaan’ as she thought it was a regressive custom.

Though many on social media objected to the idea of the father foregoing the ritual, with some accusing the family of ‘mocking’ Hindu traditions, others held that the move was progressive. In fact, this is not the first time that a family has decided to ignore or modify the ‘kanyadaan’ ritual, traditionally performed by fathers.

In 2017, a Nagpur couple made the headlines for having a wedding sans the patriarchal custom. Even last year, the image of a single mother from Chennai performing ‘kanyadaan’ for her daughter at her wedding went viral.

The conversation about letting the custom be edited out of weddings invokes strong reactions from many on social media, especially those adhering to the Hindu right.

Last year, a tweet by Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen went viral. In it she questioned the custom and asked why there was no ritual called ‘Putradaan’, alleging that the custom treated women like objects.

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Updated: February 5, 2019 — 10:52 pm
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