Monday, April 6, 2015

Why Do We See Arundhati Star (Alcor) In Wedding?

Today, I went in search for answers to the question "Why do we see "Arundati" star after marriage and why this ritual is mandatory in traditional Hindu weddings?". After referring to many resources, I got some interesting answers which I thought of sharing with you. This is a small post and as such, no quick view is added.

By Shri Tulsi Peeth Seva Nyas [CC BY-SA 3.0
via Wikimedia Commons

Arundhati :

Arundhati is the wife of sage Vasishta, and considered as an extraordinary women. Due to her remarkable loyalty and devotion to her husband, she is invoked by the "bridegroom" in wedding ceremonies by asking the "bride" to  "see Arundhati star".  There are many stories behind "Arundhati" becoming a star and one such story is this. Once Svaha, wife of Agni, tried to take the forms (physical appearance) of the wives of "saptharishis". She was able to take the forms of all other six Rishipathnis but not that of Arundhati and this revealed her superiority.

In Modern Astronomy :

Alcor, is the astronomical name of the star "Arundathi" and it is found in "Ursa Major Constellation", famously known as "Big Dipper". This constellation is what we mention as "Saptharishi Mandala". Vasishta, one among the Saptharishi, is referred as Mizar in modern astronomy. Take a look at the telescopic image of these stars given below. Alcor is just the tiny dot near Mizar as seen in telescope.

By Dipper.jpg: Transferred from en.wikipedia derivative work: Devon1980 
 (Dipper.jpg)  [CC BY-SA 3.0 (
by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

This is the Big Dipper Constellation properly marked with corresponding Saptharishis :

Mizar and Alcor are sometimes called as Horse and Rider. Mizar was observed to be a double star by Giovnni Battista Riccioli in 1650, but even before that Galileo spotted it in 1617. The proper motions of these stars show that they move together and this video demonstrates that perfectly.....

What do we think about this part of wedding these days?

Like always, we have two kinds of approach to this "Seeing Arundhati in wedding" too.. The first one is to blindly follow this as told without asking any questions and without wanting to know the real reason behind it. The second approach is to oppose it upfront and  call it weird. The second group of people who call it weird have the following as their arguments..

  • Why only women are always told such (chastity, devotion) things in the society ?
  • This is another trick to suppress women.
  • How can we see a star in the day time? This is a silly ritual.
  • Whether or not we see the star, we are always forced to say yes... What a lie?

We need to look at the Astronomical truth :

Even those who deny the mythological story of Arundhati, cannot deny the astronomical truth of the Binary stars Mizar and Alcor and their proper motions. Just imagine of saying this concept of "movement of binary stars" to a layman. What understanding will he/she get?  For such people, stories come as a rescue. But remember, for believers, the stories are also true. I have a valid reason to say so. They were able to spot such tiny objects in sky and were able to give them names as "saptharishi mandala", "Arundhati" "Dhruva nakshathra" etc, in an age (many many yugas ago) where no modern inventions like telescopes were present and even knew to mark their movements. Their observations are exactly precise and accurate as per today's astronomy, Hence, such stories would also have some in depth meaning which we are not able to interpret properly. This is my sincere view. 

For those non believers (in mythological stories), please understand that we see this star after marriage to understand that the married couple should have mutual understanding in their lifelong journey, like these two binary stars Mizar and Alcor. Just grab a telescope and see these stars in the big dipper constellation in the night sky. You yourself will get the answer. 

The above presentation gives quick answer to another question, "How can we see stars in day time?". Please refer to point number 1. And for those who think that "women were suppressed" by such statements like "chastity" "purity" "devotion" "loyalty" etc, please understand that during Vedic times both women and men were equally tested on different grounds to bring out their great qualities. We can understand this when we read the scriptural stories fully. But as far as I know, I will give few information, how even men faced tough tests....

This list can go extensive. Even for the small list given above, big explanations are needed to understand them fully. I don't want to include them here considering the length of this post, but you can always research and find out.  

I hope this article will change your views about "seeing Arundhati in wedding". Thank you all for reading.