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Veni In Hinduism – Importance of Braided Hair – What is Veni Danam?

Veni means literally braided hair and is of great importance to a Hindu woman. Braided hair also has deep symbolism in Hinduism.

Traditionally, braided hair is not ornamented when a woman’s husband is away.

Draupadi, in the Mahabharata, resolved to braid her hair only after her enemy Duryodhana was killed, because it was he who dishonored her in the assembly by pulling her by the hair. Sita is also portrayed in the Sundara Kanda section of Valmiki Ramayana with ekavenidhara (single plait of hair) because of the separation from her husband.

Kalidasa describes different styles of keshamardana (hairstyles) in Kumarasambhava, the bridal decoration of Goddess Parvati. On the day of marriage, Parvati was given a ceremonial bath on a lapis lazuli seat. After the bath, her hair was first dried and incensed smoke. It was then made up into a graceful braid and finally decorated neatly with inlaid flowers and a garland of madhuka flowers interwoven with durva grass. The fact that incense was burnt to dry the hair of ladies is known from the description in Kalidasa’s Meghaduta.

References to curls ending in a braid are found in Valmiki’s Ramayana. It is supposed to have a high aesthetic value. Refraining from braiding the hair is an indication of grief or agitation in Hindu religious tradition.

What is Veni Danam?

The confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati at Prayagraj is called Triveni Sangama. Women offer two inches of their braided hair with other auspicious things at the confluence, and that is believed to confer great merit on the person who performs Veni Danam.

Source – 
Nirnayasindhu (1991) – Kamalakara Bhatta – Chowkhamba Publishing Company
Encyclopedia of Hinduism – Volume XI – page 293 – 94 - IHRF