Lingayats are a well-known community of Hindus in the southern part of the country. Established by Basavanna in the 12th century, worshippers of Lord Shiva, the Lingayats are a group of people with the simplest rituals and style of living. They are a distinctive and popular community and have gained good number of followers in all these years. Lingayats are present in large concentration in the southern state of Karnataka. The followers of this community do not follow polytheism and worship only and only Lord Shiva. They are strongly against any kind of caste differentiation in the society.
Lingayats are known for their simplicity, the same reflects in their clothing, lifestyle, rituals and ceremonies too. Every festival in this community has quite distinctive and simple rituals, and same
goes for their weddings – Lingayats have unique and very simple wedding rites and rituals.
In the earlier ages, Lingayats did have child marriage systems, the parents got their children married before they came of age but there never existed any dowry system during the ancient times but these days with value of money going for a toss, dowry is exchanged in the form of cash and other types of gifts between the two families.
A Lingayat wedding, unlike other weddings, lasts for four days and involves many traditional but simple and meaningful rituals. The first pre-wedding ritual that is the videghalne is quite exclusive
of the Lingayat wedding when the marriage is announced by the priest to the relatives and prominent community members. During the videghalne ceremony, the first pole of the marriage booths is set up in the houses of the bride and the bride-groom. During this ceremony, videghalne or betel leaves is served to relatives and guests, which is considered auspicious in the community and then the priest announces the wedding. After this the bride is beautifully decked up in new clothes and ornaments and offered sugar candy pieces as they are considered auspicious.
The second pre-wedding ceremony, the gugul ceremony, too is quiet distinct in nature. After offering their sacred prayers to the Lords Ganesha and Lord Virbhadra in order to seek blessings for a fruitful and prosperous matrimony, a piece of earthen pot is filled with ash, with flowers, gugul, kunku, and sandal paste sprinkled over it – is taken to the nearest natural source of water and offered to the religious head and his blessings are sought for the marriage; after which the pots are broken and betel leaves are distributed among all present there during the ceremony.
The grand but subtle wedding takes place on the third day after the devaka ceremony, the marriage guardian ritual. The Lingayat matrimony is bereft of the otherwise Hindu marriage ritual of saptapadi. The bride and the bride-groom are seated next to each other on low wooden stools during the wedding ceremony.
The Lingayat matrimony has a ritual very exclusive and religious on the fourth night of the wedding ceremony when the bride and the bridegroom ride on a horse to the nearest math and seek blessings from the religious head, after which the couple return back to the bride-groom’s house and then follows a grand feast and distribution of alms.