An Indian wedding

As we all know, a wedding in the Indian community is the grandest festival ever. This is marked by lights and colors and food and celebration. As they say, an Indian wedding is the wedding of two whole families, instead of two people alone. ‘The big fat Indian wedding’, as they rightly call it! Wedding celebrations do not happen on one day alone. It goes on for days and months and the rituals forming the occasion are a treat to the eye!

A Tamil marriage

A Tamil marriage is especially one of the prettiest sights! It comprises of several rituals before, during and after the marriage. However, like every other India wedding, it is celebrated in grand style and elegance. There are numerous guests invited and everybody comes together to bless the newlyweds. A Tamil wedding takes place over 2 days. Their idea of simple living is mirrored in their weddings. Two musical instruments often seen in Tamil weddings are the Naathaswaram and the Melam. The ceremonies are auspicious and are never held in the months of Aashad and Bhadrapad as they are considered unlucky.

Pre-wedding rituals

There are numerous Tamil wedding rituals one can learn about. First and foremost, the two families and the elders get together to fix up the alliance of the two concerned individuals. Once that is done, an auspicious date is chosen for the wedding. To mark this occasion, the girl is given a silk sari and the boy is given money or clothes.

Paalikali Thalippu/Karappu: This ritual marks the beginning of the Tamil wedding. It is performed by the girl’s family. Here, seven clay pots are decorated with sandalwood power and paste and those are filled with curd and nine types of grain. Later, the married women of the house water these pots and then they are thrown in the pond. It is believed that if the fishes eat the grain, it signifies good luck for the couple.

Sumangali Prarthanai: It is considered lucky if a woman dies before her husband. Since such a woman dies a married woman, just before the wedding, the bride-to-be should be blessed such that she has such a fate. For this, such women are honored by gifting them saris and offering them different food on these occasions.

Kalyanaponnu: This is a ritual in which the bride and the groom are separately bathed at their respective homes with scented oils. Thereafter, they are not allowed to leave the house until the wedding is performed.

Receiving the groom:  A day before the wedding, when the bride and the groom reach the wedding hall, they are welcomed with flowers, paan supari, fruits and mishri and a feast is prepared by the bride’s family. The feast is made from condensed milk and is offered to the groom’s parents. The bride’s family thereafter performs the aarti. This is a ritual for welcoming them with earthen lamps. As is popular in most Hindu occasions, a coconut is broken against the ground as this is believed to be warding off evil spirits from the married life of the bride and the groom.

Nandi Devata Pooja: This brings us to the next part of the wedding. This is performed by five women who offer gifts and food to the couple!

Navgraha Pooja: This is one of the specialties of a Tamil wedding. This ritual is performed to honor the 9 planets. It is believed in Hindu customs and astrology that the planets are responsible for controlling the fate of the bride and the groom. Hence, it is deemed fit to honor the planets to keep them appeased.

Vritham: This ceremony involves the tying of the red holy thread around the bride’s wrist. Meanwhile, the groom fulfils some other responsibilities to prepare himself for the wedding.

Naandi Shraartham: The Brahmins or the priests are considered to be symbolic of the ancestors of the bride and the groom. Thus, in this ritual, ten such priests are invited and a feast is prepared for them. They are given flowers, paan supari and others. This honors the Brahmins and the families seek their blessings for the new couple.

Janavasanam:  This occasion has now become redundant. This marks the groom’s journey and entry into the wedding hall.  He is brought here in a well-decorated car. Friends and family follow him, engaging in huge celebrations. Sometimes fire crackers are also burst to mark the event. Traditional Tamil wedding music is played by professional musicians to celebrate the ritual.  The groom is welcomed by the brother of the bride with flowers and garlands.

Nicchiyadharatham: The Tamils down south are big believers of Lord Ganesha. A ritual is held just before the wedding to honor Lord Ganesha. The priest performs the ceremony and the bride is given a beautiful silk sari and sandalwood is applied on her forehead. Also, the part of the sari near the end is filled with fruits, paan-supari, turmeric, kumkum and coconut. Following this, a garland of flowers is made to tie on her waist to mark the beginning of the wedding ceremony.

Reading of Lagna Pathirigai: This is the last ritual performed before the actual wedding ceremonies commence. This is marked by the priest reading out the official invitation of the wedding. The details of three generations of the bride and the groom are read out to the guests. Thereafter starts the wedding rituals.

This brings us to the wedding rituals in Tamil wedding. The exchange of garlands and kanyadaan are some of the ceremonies in the wedding.

The Tamils believe in simple living and their weddings are accordingly organized. The true colors of their rich culture are reflected in the weddings which are kept simple yet with a lot of celebrations and enjoyment! The weddings are kept essentially traditional and focus on the completion and fulfillment of ceremonies in the correct way! Their culture is mirrored in their rituals. The bride and the groom are blessed by everyone present!

Raja Kumar

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