We all have been talking about a lot on bridal makeup, its time to know how marriages are performed in different parts of the world.As I have stayed whole my life in North India I had no idea about South Indian weddings and when I met Sandhya we thought of an idea to cover all the rituals and customs of various wedding in India and abroad .As Wise She is read by millions from different parts of the world it will come out as a beautiful platform to share wedding rituals – Anamika
Wedding is that word which brings out a gamut of emotions. If you are the Bride or the Groom, it is a life changing experience; it is that giant leap to a completely unknown territory. If you are the cousin or a relative, it’s the season to dress up like there’s no tomorrow, it’s the season of fun and frolic!
All of us have been to weddings of different cultures and each are unique in their own way. In this series, I’ll try my best to cover South Indian Weddings. I wanted to start with my comfort zone, and so I chose Tamil Brahmin or Tam-brahm weddings as a starter.
Let me describe to you a typical Tamil Brahmin marriage that is celebrated in the Vedic style, where importance is given to the traditions and rituals which have been passed on over centuries.
Tam-Brahm marriages are traditionally fixed by the parents; the compatibility of the bride and groom is decided by comparison of their horoscopes – which indicate the planetary positions at the time of their birth, and are said to predict their character accurately. Once the marriage is finalized, a small engagement ceremony is held, to solemnise the forthcoming marriage in the presence of witnesses.
Traditionally, this is a ceremony performed by the elders in the family, with the bride and groom, being spectators. They have no role to play here. The parents of the bride and groom decide the date of the marriage in the presence of the priest, with both the families watching. The priest then reads out a Lagna Pathrigai, specifying the date, time and venue of the marriage and this serves as a sort of commitment for both families. The bride’s family brings fruits and sweetmeats and the groom’s people in turn serve snacks and dinner and present a sari to the bride. This ceremony is performed by the Groom’s side.
Kalyanam: Commencement of marriage ceremonies
The bride’s family arrives at the marriage venue or ‘kalyana-mandapam’ one day prior to the wedding. The venue is decorated with ‘kolams (attractive designs made with rice powder paste) and flowers.
In anticipation of the arrival of the groom and his family, the bride’s family keeps ‘chandanam’ (sandalwood paste), ‘kumkumam’ (vermilion), rose water, sugar candy, garlands and a platter for the ‘aarthi’ (traditional welcoming ritual). A vessel containing ‘thiraattupal’ (sweetened khoya) is also kept ready for the groom’s mother.
On the groom’s arrival the ‘nadaswaram’ (traditional instrument) is played and the ‘aarthi’ is performed in his honour.
Viratham: Ceremony observed to obtain blessings from departed elders
This is a ceremony performed separately by bride and groom’s side. The rituals followed for the groom are far more elaborate than those for the bride.
‘Charadu’ – A Sacred yellow thread is tied on the wrists of the bride and groom and they are not permitted to leave the marriage venue. The ‘palika’ ceremony (sprinkling of nine varieties of grains) for the prosperity of the couple’s new life together is conducted simultaneously with the ‘viratham’.
To culminate the function, an ‘aarthi’ is performed.
Janavasam & Nischaiyartham: Inviting the groom to the ‘mandapam’
This is a very important aspect of the marriage where any differences between the families are sorted out. The ceremony traditionally takes place in a temple. The bride’s family brings turmeric, betel leaves, nuts and clothes for the groom. The bride’s brother then garlands the groom, and sugar candy is distributed to all present. The groom is then escorted to a decorated car and the family leaves in a procession for the ‘mandapam’.
Once the procession reaches the marriage venue, the bride is led outside by her close friends to get a glimpse of her future husband! ‘Aarthi’ is performed and a coconut broken to ward off evil. The groom is then led to the ‘medai’ (an elevated place in the ‘mandapam’ where all the ceremonies are performed). Members of both families sit opposite each other and a ‘lagna patrigai’ is written and read aloud by the ‘pujari’. ‘Thamboolams’ (platters of betel nuts, dry fruits, nuts, coconuts, turmeric and ‘kumkumam’) and gifts are exchanged.
The cone shaped ‘parupputhengai’ (a special sweetmeat) is an important part of all these ceremonies.
Wedding Arrangements: Preparations for the actual wedding ceremony on the day of the wedding
Early morning on the day of the wedding, the bride’s family sends toiletries, a mirror, a basket filled with sweetmeats and a ‘nadaswaram’ to the groom’s family. The priest usually ties the traditional ‘dhoti’ or ‘panchakatcham’ for the groom and apply ‘vibhuti’ or sacred ash in three horizontal lines on his forehead.
Kashi Yatra: The groom embarks on a mock pilgrimage
After much ado the groom accepts and returns to the ‘mandapam’ to get married! Off late,
some families actually have autos waiting outside the mandapam giving the boy one last chance to actually run away!Dressed in the traditional ‘panchakatcham’, holding an umbrella, a fan, a walking stick, and a towel containing ‘dal’ (lentils) and rice tied to his shoulder, the groom embarks on a mock pilgrimage. As he steps out of the ‘mandapam’, the bride’s father pleads with him not to go to ‘Kashi’ (a sacred pilgrimage site in the city of Benaras) and marry his daughter instead.
Unjal Unjal:The couple exchange garlands
On entering the ‘mandapam’ the groom discards his walking stick and all the other paraphernalia and is garlanded by the bride. The groom in turn garlands the bride.
The couple is then made to sit on a decorated swing and the women folk smear their feet with a little milk, ‘kumkumam’ and ‘chandanam’. A pot of water and a lamp set inside a measure containing rice are carried by the bride’s mother and other elderly ladies around the swing and the couple is fed a mixture of bananas, milk and sugar. After the traditional ‘aarthi’ the bride and groom are escorted for the next ceremony -the ‘kanyadhanam’.
Kanyadhan: Giving away the bride
Amidst the chanting of ‘mantras’ (Vedic chants), the priest ignites the sacred fire. The groom is gifted a ‘muhurtha veshti’ (a 4 metre long silk dhoti) and a ‘anga-vastram’ (a 2 metre long silk fabric to be used as a shawl). The bride is seated on her father’s lap for the ‘kanyadhanam’.
The bride and groom together hold a coconut dipped in turmeric, while the bride’s mother pours water onto the coconut. This is the actual ritual of ‘kanyadhanam’.
Mangalyadharanam: The groom ties the sacred ‘taali’ (mangalsutra) on the bride
The ‘kanyadhanam’ is followed by the ‘mangalyadharanam’. The ‘taali’ or ‘mangalsutra’ is placed on the bride’s head along with a miniature piece of jewellery shaped like a yoke Mangalyadharanam and the groom performs a ‘puja’ with ‘kumkumam’ and flowers. He then ties the first knot of the ‘taali’ around the bride’s neck and his sister ties the other two.
Sapthapathi: Seven steps around the sacred fire
The bride’s sari ‘pallu’ and the groom’s ‘angavastram’ (shawl) are tied in a knot and the couple hold hands. The groom places his foot under the bride’s and helps her to take the seven steps around the fire. Then he places the bride’s foot on a grinding stone near the fire and slips silver rings or ‘metti’ on her toes.
The couple is then shown the ‘Dhruva Nakshatra’ or Pole Star, a symbol of permanence and the ‘Arundhati Nakshatram’ or symbol of purity and virtue.
Laja Homam: The bride makes an offering to the sacred fire
The bride’s brother slings a bagful of puffed rice or ‘laja’ over his shoulder and keeps giving fistfuls of it to his sister to offer as a sacrifice to the sacred fire. After this ritual the couple circulate and are blessed by all present.
Sesha Homam: Blessing for healthy offspring
This is a symbolic ritual to invoke blessings for healthy offspring. The groom ties a thread around the bride’s hip. This ceremony used to be performed just before the nuptials but these days it is a part of the marriage ceremony itself, so that the couple is ready for the wedding reception.
Gruhapravesam: The bride is welcomed into her marital home
If the grooms’ family lives in the same town the bride is taken to her new home and made to sit on a ‘manai’ (low wooden plank) and fed milk and bananas. Her in-laws also present her with a sari and she is asked to light the ‘kuthuvailakku’ (sacred lamp in the ‘puja’ room).
If the groom’s family does not live in the same town, this ceremony is performed in the ‘mandapam’ after completion of all the marriage rites.
Seer Bakshanam: Sweets sent with the bride to her marital home
The bride’s parents prepare several sweets and savouries for the bride to take back with her to her husband’s home. These are known as ‘seer bakshanam’ and are stored in decorated containers by the groom’ family and later distributed amongst friends and relatives.
Thus ends the Grand Tamil Brahmin Wedding, which lasts a little over two days.
I hope you liked the post, as much as I enjoyed writing it.
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