A Guide to the Kashi Yatra Ritual

What is Kashi Yatra ritual in Weddings? Where and how is it celebrated? Know all about Kashi Yatra ritual in one single click.

Kashi Yatra - Kashi (the place in Uttar Pradesh) and Yatra (meaning journey in Sanskrit), is a ritual practised in Telugu, Kannada, and Tamil Brahmin Weddings. It is a ritual where the groom decides to abandon his current life and move to Kashi to gain further knowledge. 

Kashi, alternatively called as Varanasi, is said to be the holiest place in India. It is believed that Lord Shiva requested Divodas, the only king who followed Dharma (the right path,) to construct a dwelling place in Kashi. It is assumed that Lord Shiva abodes here and blesses all the devotees who visit this place. 

Kashi Yatra is one of the South Indian wedding rituals which has been modified, but the essence remains the same. Read more to know everything about this ritual:

History of the Kashi Yatra ritual 

This ceremony is typically observed by the brahmin males. According to Hindu traditions, mankind has four stages or Ashrams of life. The first stage is Brahmacharya. In this stage, the brahmin male devotes his time for education. He goes to the Gurukul (the school) to gain knowledge about various subjects. The second stage is the Grihastha. He shifts to married life or samsara in this stage. 

The third stage is the Vanaprastha. After his next generation is ready to face the world, he transfers all his responsibilities to them in this stage. The fourth or last stage is Sannyasa. He leaves all his worldly pleasures and leads a life of celibacy. In this stage, he attains salvation and reaches the almighty. 

The transfer from the Brahmacharya stage to Sannyasa stage is the base for the Kashi Yatra ritual. It is believed that before and after the time of Adi Shankaracharya, many people have left grihastha stage or ashram in search of true knowledge realizing that the samsara (married life) is the root cause of all miseries.

Procedure to follow during the Kashi Yatra ritual in South Indian weddings

As the groom gets ready for Kashi Yatra, the bride’s family convinces him to stay back and experience the Grihastha stage (the married life.) The bride’s father persuades the groom by saying that, for attaining salvation, one must cross all the stages of life. Skipping one stage to reach almighty sooner is the wrong notion that people have. The bride’s father also explains how the Grihastha stage helps mankind to get the knowledge of experiences consisting of different emotions. 

Once the groom is convinced, the bride’s family gives gifts to the groom and accompanies him to the stage. The groom is considered as the Maha Vishnu who has come to marry the bride, who is the Goddess Lakshmi. 

Kashi Yatra rituals in different Brahmin Weddings

  • Kannada 

In Kannada Brahmin weddings, this ritual is performed after the Varapooje (a ritual where the groom is welcomed by the bride’s family by washing his feet.) The bride’s father takes the duty of convincing the groom. Once the groom agrees to marry the bride, he is welcomed on stage with Mangala Vadya (music for an auspicious occasion.) The groom’s sisters carry a Kalasha (a vessel which is filled with holy water, betel leaves, flowers, and coconut,) mirror, and rice. They escort the vara (groom) till the vadhu (bride) comes to the Kalyana Mantapa (the wedding stage.)

  • Telugu
    In Telugu Brahmin Weddings, Kashi Yatra happens after Snathakam.
    Snathakam means post-graduation and in this case, signifies the groom’s transition from boyhood to manhood. In Snathakam ritual, the groom’s Brahmacharya stage (the stage to gain knowledge) will be completed and he gets ready for the Grihastha stage (the married life.) He will be given two options: 

1. To marry the bride

2. To choose eternal bachelorhood

The groom, enticed by the shortcut to salvation, chooses the second route and hence begins the Kashi Yatra ritual. The bride’s brother takes the responsibility of convincing the groom to choose the first option. After the groom agrees, he is welcomed to the stage to meet his vadhuvu (the bride.) 

  • Tamil 

In Tamil Brahmin Weddings, the wedding day commences with this ritual. Seems like the groom wakes up with cold feet! Here, the groom is convinced by the bride’s maternal uncle. After this, they proceed to the next ritual which is the Oonjal ceremony. 

Significance of the Kashi Yatra ritual 

Once a man completes the Brahmacharya or the educational stage, he is believed to have foreseen the knowledge which is present ahead of the Grihastha or the married life stage. He decides to gain that wisdom for which he travels to Kashi. Kashi is claimed to be the nest for greater knowledge. This ritual gives the groom one chance to get that wisdom. 

However, Kashi Yatra ritual is now more of a tradition and adds a fun element to the wedding. It tests how the bride’s family convinces the groom to marry the bride. From describing the virtuousness of the bride to singing a song, the bride’s family never fails to impress the groom. Having said that, the groom would’ve already fallen for the bride and is known to not choose the Kashi route. 

Items required for the Kashi Yatra ritual 

Earlier, the trip to Kashi was a dangerous and tiresome journey. There was no transport, shelter, or food available on the way. Once a man decided to move to Kashi, he had to pack a few items to help him with this long travel. To emulate this, the groom is made to carry essentials like food, clothes, etc.. There are many stores online and offline which sell Kashi Yatra sets. Find below the items that are used in the Kashi Yatra ritual:

  1. Umbrella

This is to protect the groom from rain. Kashi Yatra umbrellas come in different colours and are decorated with beads and pearls. Once decorated, the umbrella is filled with flowers and closed so that the shower of flowers will fall on the groom when it is opened for him.

2. Fan

This is to protect the groom from excess heat. It is a hand fan which is decorated similar to the umbrella. 

3. Slippers

This is to aid him to walk on the rough surface. In earlier days, people used wooden slippers to walk and now trendy and fashionable sandals have replaced them. 

4. Coconut and rice

This is for the groom to fill his stomach. By choosing a life of celibacy, he gets to eat only coconut and rice. But if he chooses married life, he gets to eat delicious food!

5. Extra dhoti

This helps him for his long-distance travel. The dhoti can be pure silk or cotton one. 

6. Walking stick

Aids him to walk in the hilly region. It is usually a wooden stick with the handle either bulged or not.  

These are the essential items used during the Kashi Yatra ceremony. This is followed by the Muhurtham ceremony. 

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