Kanyadaanam is a significant ritual that takes place during a traditional South Indian wedding. It is a sacred ceremony that marks the giving away of the bride by her parents to the groom. The word “Kanyadaanam” is derived from two Sanskrit words, “Kanya” which means daughter, and “Daanam” which means gift or donation.


Informant: AS is a 60-year-old man born in India and living in London, UK for the last 25 years. He is my uncle. He is an Orthopedic Surgeon practicing in London. 

Interviewer: When does this Kanyadaanam happen?

AS: The ceremony takes place on the wedding day, typically after the groom’s arrival at the wedding venue. The bride’s father or any male member of the family performs the Kanyadaanam ceremony.    In some cases, the bride’s mother may also participate in the ritual.

Interviewer: What happens during this ritual?

AS: The ceremony begins with the bride’s father washing the groom’s feet, which is a sign of respect and humility. The groom is then welcomed into the wedding mandapam (hall), where the Kanyadaanam ritual takes place.

Interviewer: Can you please explain the steps involved?

AS: During the wedding ceremony, the bride’s father places his daughter’s right hand on the groom’s right hand and pours holy water over their hands. He then recites mantras and prayers, seeking the blessings of the gods and goddesses for the couple’s happy and prosperous life. The bride’s father then places a coconut and betel leaves on the couple’s hands and ties them together with a sacred thread.

Interviewer: What does this ritual signify?

AS:  Bride’s father hands over the responsibility of his daughter to the groom, who promises to take care of her and fulfill his duties as a husband.

Interviewer: How do you know all these?

AS: Over the years, within our friends and family circle, I have attended more than 50 such rituals and learned this from elders, parents, and priests. 


The Kanyadaanam ceremony is considered one of the most important rituals in a South Indian wedding, as it symbolizes the complete acceptance of the bride into the groom’s family.  It is a moment of joy and emotion for both the bride and groom’s families.  The Kanyadaanam ceremony is considered an emotional moment for the bride’s family, as they bid farewell to their daughter and give her away to a new family.  It is also a moment of joy for the groom’s family, as they welcome the new bride into their family and accept her as one of their own. The ceremony is performed with great devotion and reverence and is an important part of the rich cultural heritage of South India.