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Makhana Pun Kayastha,

Lecturer, NeHCA

Tilak Ritual in Hindu Awadhi- A Surplus of Dowry and Child

Marriage Malpractice

In terms of womans social position, Nepal is still a backward country. One of the reasons behind
this fact is the role of tradition, culture and religion pervading in our societies. One of the
revolting impacts of the tradition in our society to make women weaker is child marriage. It is a
long way ahead to transform the Nepalese society into one that does justice to women.
Nepal is a culturally diverse country. In this ground, Matrimonial tradition also varies between
communities, regions, castes and ethnic groups. Although, it is restricted by the constitution yet
child marriage is still in existence in some group in rural areas. A blazing example of child
marriage and dowry tradition, we can see in the societies of Awadhi in western Tarai. The life
cycle rituals especially marriage in Hindu Awadhi of western Nepal seems quite different than
other Hindu group.
This article is based on the marriage ritual pervading in Hindu Awadhi societies in Baghauda
area of Banke district in Bheri Zone.
Introduction of Baghauda
Baghauda lies in the territory of Bankey district in Bheri zone. Banke bordered on the west by
Bardiya district. Rapty zones Salyan and Dang Deukhuri districts border to the north and east.
To the south lies Uttar Pradesh, India, a country in Asia specifically Shravasti and Bahraich
district of Awadh. The area of Bankey covers Latitude 28.0333 and Longitude 81.6167. Climate
in Bankey is Ardha Shitosna, samasitoshna and sitoshna. The rain fall is 1000 to 1500
milliliter per year. The temperature is 45.1 maximums to 5.40 Celsius minimums. East of
Nepalgunj the international border follows the southern edge of the Dudhwa Range of the
Siwalks. Most of the district is drained by the Rapti, except the districts western edge is drained
by the Babai.

Baghauda territory covers seven VDCs of Banke districtPhattepur, Gangapur, Matehiya,

Narainapur, Kalaphata, Laxmanpur and Katkuiya of Banke district. Population in the area is
around 44,960. Population by mother tongue is most of Awadhi 32384. After Awadhi, Dangaura
Tharu 7685, Nepali 3911, Magar 623, Hindi 139, Others 140, Urdu 66 and Maithili 12 speak
their mother language. (Population Census 2001:74-76). Hindu sects resident in the area, are
Kurmi, Yadav, Barma, Khatik, Chamar, Loniya, Muraau, Naau, Laal (Shreewaastav), Raadh,
Pandit and some Muslim casts.
Baghauda is an area which belongs to Awadhi linguistic territory. Awadh is a name of certain
area that speaks one language which covers some south territories of Nepal and north of India.
The language spoken in this area is known as Awadhi. It is an eastern Hindi language, a dialect
of the Hindi dialect continuum. It is spoken in the region of Utter Pradesh of India and some
south-west parts of Nepal. Awadh is one of the ancient Hindu States which was known as
Laxmanpur. The name Awadh is derived from the place of Hindu God-Ramchandras birth place
Ayodhya. Untll 16th century, it was called Ayodhya. Awadhi language speaker people living in
Bghauda are used to be known as Awadhi.
Baghauda area is located in an accessible territory yet is still in shade from the governmental
development activities except some nongovernmental organizations attempts. The only vehicles
for transportation in the area are bicycle and Ladiya (ox puller cart). General people still practice
Jhankri or Dhami (shaman) for the treatment in health or mental illness while some of well to do
family use to go the hospital in Nepalgunj and India too.
People of Baghauda have their own culture, tradition and festivals that seem like a different
world. There is a tradition in women to cover their faces.
Marriage according to Hindu ideal
Hindu text mentions The householder is as necessary for society as the breath is for the body
(Altekar 1959). Relating this version, marriage is naturally regarded as normally necessary for
the society and family since very early times. The Upanayana (ceremony of investiture) ritual of
boys made the marriage a counterpart of life and religion. It made marriage as counterpart for
girls also. Among the Hindus, vivaha (marriage) is generally considered as obligatory for
every person, because in the first place the birth of a son is said to enable one to obtain moksa

(salvation). To be mothers were women created and to father men, therefore the Vedas ordain
that dharma must be practiced by man together with his wife. Then, marriage for girls became an
obligatory. In this situation girls started to get married before they attained an age of exercising
an intelligent choice in the matter. Vedic texts describe that Marriage is regarded as a social and
religious duty and necessity for men and women.
Vedic passage says that a person, who is unmarried, is unholy. From the religious point of view
he remains incomplete and is not fully eligible to participate in sacraments. This continues to be
the view even of the modern society. Marriage opens a new period of holy life in Hindu beliefs.
As it is said that the family is a social institution, marriage is a part of family. Marriage is
intended as a preparation for family. Then, rituals and formality became very important for
marriage through which an individual has to go to be able to start his or her life in the
Grihasthasram (householder life). Manu considers it as a social institution for the regulation of
proper relations between the sexes. Smritis advocate marriage as compulsory for girls. Girls were
supposed be married before the time of puberty. This rule compelled girls to marry an
undesirable bridegroom too. This rule made girls pitiable that parents of a defective girl had
spent heavily in marrying her.
Marriage rituals in Hindu societies at present are guided by Manu Smriti. Manu describes eight
types of marriage methods-Brahmya, Daiva, Arsha, Prajapatya, Ashura, Gandharva, ,
Rakshasha and Pisacha. It is divided on the base of cast division. These eight types of marriage
are categories in two. First four types are said Shrestha (best) which are said suitable for
Brahman cast and last four are Nikristha (lower) which are said suitable for Kshetri and others.
The marriage rules guided by Manu Smriti are still in existence in Hindu societies. Barachhedan
and Gaunaa rituals in Awadhi society of Bahagauda represent the rule of the Vedic ideal. Gaunaa
ritual must be observed in child age in Awadhi society. Hence, it can be said that this ritual of
child marriage is the symbol of the Smritis rule.
Marriage Rituals in Hindu Awadhi Societies of Baghauda
Normally, there is seen a certain age for marriage in other families in Baghauda than Awadhi.
But in Awadhi families, it is seen in different type. There are three steps of marriage in Awadhi

families. The family prepared for marriage of their children before the age of 9/10 years and
bridegroom must wait for some years after marriage to keep the bride in his house.
Tilak and Barachhedan first step of marriage
Parents in Awadhi of Baghauda start to find out matching boys or girls for their children when
they complete 7/ 8 years of age. When they got the match in suitable family, a priest is called for
the auspicious time for marriage. To call a priest for the auspicious time is called Brahman
Puchhan (calling of Brahaman). In the advocate of priest, date of marriage and amount of Tilak
(coronation rites, in which bride pays to bridegroom- dowry) is fixed. At the same time, at least
3000 Rs. or more than that (in the present context) must be given as advanced. There is tradition
to rub oil (a kind of haldi ritual in Indian Hindu marriage) in Awadhi to make brides body soft in
the eve of Barachhedan day. Next day, Bride and bridegroom worship the Gaanwat Dev (village
deity)-Mirchhuwa in their own places.
Next day, either bride goes to bridegrooms house with her family members and relatives or
bridegroom comes to brides house with the marriage processors for Tilak. A barber from brides
side shaves the bridegrooms hair. After shaving the hair, bride worships bridegrooms feet. This
is called Barachhedan ritual.
In the case of, bride going to bridegrooms house, she must carry a Paraat (big tray) of copper
or kaansh (metal ..?) filled with rice (at least 25 kg), five pieces of Turmeric, five plants of Dubo
(cynodon dactylon), five meters of white cloth, five pieces of Laddu (a kind of sweets) and fruits.
Dresses- shirt, pant, coat and shoe for the bridegroom and cash as per fixed are paid as a Tilak.
At the same time other goods is given to bridegroom as dowry. In previous time, Tilak was at
least 51 Rs.
If the bridegrooms and marriage processors come to brides home, they stay for two nights in
brides house. Bridegroom group comes with musical instruments and keep dancing singing for
whole time in brides house. A big feast is given to the marriage processors for two nights and
three days. Bride must offer a cow to bridegroom and more according to brides parents abilities
or according to the demand of bridegroom. As concerning to present situation, Motorcycle,
bycycle, Tape-record, watch, Redio and clothes are the most demanded dowry from

bridegrooms side. In most of the case, bridegroom comes to brides house with marriage
At the time of marriage procession, bride and bridegroom worship the god in courtyard in the
evening facing towards North Pole. They worship the Chhattiskoti Devatas (a group 36 gods) at
that time. After worshipping these gods, Bhaavar Gathbandhan (both of them is tied up with on
piece of ( white ?)cloth ) is performed. In Bhaavar Gathabandhan, bridegroom in front line
following by bride circumambulates the temple in the courtyard six rounds. One round is left for
Gauna time.
Bridegroom also brings some gifts for bride. This gifts must be over than three pairs ( teen
than?). Bridegroom gifts the ornaments named Paaijep (wearing in feet), Kardhan (for waist),
any of Haar, Hasuli , Tauka, Hamel, Katseli or Mangalsutra (a kind of necklace), Tediya (for
arm), Bindi (for forehead), silver clip for hair, gold Nathani (for nose) along with cloths. These
gifts must be in odd number. (Silver or gold..?)
After completing these formalities, marriage processors return without taking bride and the first
step of barachhedan marriage ritual is consented complete.

Gaunaa- second step of marriage

Gaunaa is performed within one, three or five years after Baraschhedan. According to priests
advice, marriage processor along with bridegrooms father goes to brides house with Doli
(palanquin) without bridegroom. But bridegroom also may go in marriage procession in the
brides familys request.
This time also, marriage processor come with musical instruments and stays for one night and
introduces each other with all relatives. Processor brings some cloths for bride. Next day,
marriage processor returns to bridegrooms house with bride.
Next day morning, bride has to cook Gulgulaa (a kind of dish of wheat corn and Gud ,veli?),
Meetha Bhaat (rice cooked with sugar) and Khir (rice cooked in milk) and offer to all members
of bridegrooms house.

After staying two nights in bridegrooms house, brides maternal family members or relatives
come to bridegrooms house to take back the bride. After this return back of the bride, the second
step of marriage or Gauna ritual is consented complete.

Thaunaa- third or last step of marriage

Bride doesnt go to bridegrooms house until the Thaunaa ritual is not performed. Thauna might
be performed since the fifteen days up to ten years after Gaunaa. In this ritual, parents of
bridegroom and some relatives come to brides house along with some gifts and stay for one
night. Next morning bride goes to her husbands house with the parents of bridegroom. After this
ritual, full marriage ceremony is consented complete.
Sometimes, the family of bridegroom takes the bride in the main path of the village by Doli
before her maternal members come to them and give some sweets and water to bride to eat. This
is taken as Thauna ritual. After this ritual, maternal side is not allowed to take back their
daughter for long period. Sometimes, if the maternal members did not come to take her back, it is
not necessary for bride to go back her maternal house.

Due to the child marriage tradition in Awadhi societies, numerous girls still found uneducated,
unemployed and disempowered. Because of these factors, they are backward politically,
economically and socially till this century. It is not exaggeration that child marriage affects
throughout the life of a women, family and more over to the society and nation. Bhagauda is a
place which still in shed from the development activities. It is more backward socially especially,
in the matter of women development sector. Patriarchal tradition is in strong hold in the area.
Women seem in an undeclared purdha system. They are not allowed to speak in the open
gathering place. Daughters are like burden for their parents. They are married before they start
their schooling. A boy can go school after married also but a girl is compelled to stay home and
learn household works.
Parents of girl child have to bear a heavy economic burden for Tilak which is increasing the
poverty. Due to this dowry, parents dont will to spend in girls education. Tilak ritual is being
an undeclared dowry system and growing in a dangerous appearance day by day. It will not be an

exaggeration that Tilak or dowry tradition is inviting a dreadful situation of women murder
cases. The tradition killing women in the name of dowry in the neighbor country India is
influencing in the connected villages of Nepal. This is an unhealthy practice for the society and
Baghauda is waiting for its social changing from the bottom. A strong organization, knowledge
of law and rule to the general public, empowerment and political leadership by them, right in
decision making role from the general public is seen a clear need in Baghauda. A slogan of
politics for the development must rise in Baghauda.
Practice of public empowerment is the main base for progress and prosperous of a nation. It is
being an obligatory subject for the government to stop serious issue or revising this malpractice
of so called Tilak or dowry tradition in the area. Plans and programs on girl child education,
prevention or revising the dowry and child marriage tradition, women empowerment program
are the crucial subjects in the area. The rule against child marriage and dowry tradition must be
implemented strongly in the area by governmental side in the time. Politicians and Women Right
Workers must be focused in these issues in the rural areas rather than urban areas.

Altekar, A.S. (1959), The Position of Women in Hindu Civilization, 2nd edition, Motilal
Banarasidass, Bungalow Road, Delhi
CBS (2001), His Majestys Government of Nepal, National Planning Commission Secretariat
District Profile Bankey (2052), Jilla Bikash Samitiko Karyalaya (Office of the District
Development Committee) , Nepalgunja, Banke
Siddiqui, Hameed Akhtar, History of Awadh (Oudh)

Source persons