Why is tying of the knot an important part of the Hindu wedding?
Aknot literally means fastening together two ends of a string, rope or something similar. In the same way, when Hindus talk of gathbandhan in marriage, it means bringing together two individuals by symbolically tying the loose ends of their scarf and veil, or other clothing. From two individuals - two bodies and two minds - they become a single entity through marriage.
Tying of the knot also symbolizes that the two are tied for a common purpose. It is desired that they shall remember this throughout life. It is also expected that in pursuing the common cause each shall supplement the efforts of the other. Therefore, tying the knot symbolizes an irrevocable relationship.
Before tying of the knot, the parents of the bride formally hand her over in marriage to the groom. This is known as Kanya Daan. The word kanya means a girl or daughter, and daan denotes charity. Together the words mean giving away the daughter in charity. Amongst Hindus this is considered a noble form of charity. The parents feel proud of this action, which is an important responsibility for every householder. Those who are not blessed with a daughter often help people during the marriages of their daughter so that they can benefit from the deed of marrying a daughter.
Just as it is virtuous to give away a daughter in marriage, Hindus believe that the one who takes the girl in charity incurs a debt by accepting her. To repay this debt it is customary for the groom's parents to give charity for a good cause through the groom. Tying of the knot follows this.