Respecting the culture, laded with simplicity and rituals, are the Tamil Weddings. They celebrate the wedding uniquely with ancient rituals, poised with the priest’s guidance. Tamil weddings embrace rituals and practices taken from the oldest sacred texts of the Hindus. However, nowadays it has been twisted with tinges of the modern era. But the time-honored characteristics are what they still rigidly follow to the core. Essentially, it is a ceremonial build on convictions and ethics that are witnessed by family and friends, thereby rejoicing the much splendid mirth. For guests, it is a visual retreat as it is captivating to see how the wedding flows through different phases of love, bonding and communion.
Tamil weddings vary from community to community but the niceties are the same. The rituals followed are as follows.
Nicchiyadharatham:- It is the formal engagement ceremony, wherein the bride and the groom exchange rings.
Lagna Pathirigai:– In this wedding and reading out aloud the wedding invitation takes place, to notify everybody about the union.
Tamil weddings are not organised in the months of Aashad, Bhadrapad and Shunya
The next procedure is lettering of the marriage agreement. Then, in a meeting at the groom’s house, the priests from both the sides exchange the marriage agreement. The agreement is put on a platter along with bananas, coconuts and betel leaves. Here, the groom’s and the bride’s family exchange gifts.
It starts few days before the wedding. These are the main rituals that occur before the wedding:-
Paalikali Thalippu/Karappu:- Special clay pots are bedecked with sandalwood paste and kumkum powder. Little bit of curd and nine different grains (nava dhaanyam) are put in each pot. Everything is done by five or seven married women from both the families. All of these women bring gifts that shall be exchanged during the ceremony. On the first day after the wedding, the bride and the groom throw the pots into a nearby pond. It is believed that the fishes in the pond will eat the grains and bless the duo.
A day before, rituals that foster the beauty of the bride and the groom are done:- Turmeric, which cleanses and brightens the skin, is a commonly used ingredient in Tamil Hindu traditions to boost the skin’s radiance. Close friends and family assemble to apply the turmeric on the bride and the groom
Kalyanaponnu or Kalyanappilla:- This is a bathing ritual, done at the groom’s and the bride’s house. Wooden seat or peedi is put in front of a kolam. Kolam is a traditional form of sand painting made with rice powder by female family members.
Panda Kaal Muhurtham:- Where the families of the bride and the groom pray to the Lord for an unremitting wedding ceremony.
Aarti:- The day before marriage, the groom is welcomed with the traditional aarti by the bride’s side. He is offered sweets, sprinkled with rose-water and even a coconut is broken to ward off evil spirits.
Vratham:- small puja organised before the nuptial.
Naandi:- Brahmins are given gifts and sweets to seek their blessings for the wedding alliance. Following this, rose-water is sprinkled on the groom to mark the auspiciousness and sanctity of the nuptial.
Let’s take you through the authentic rituals of Tamil Weddings.
Kashi Yatra:- It holds utmost prominence. This is a fascinating ritual in which the groom makes a mock effort to become a brahmchari. He behaves as if he is really annoyed with everyone as no one is making any effort to find a bride for him. Therefore, he pretends to declare himself as a brahmchari and says that he is going to Kaashi, the popular pilgrimage place. He stops only by the influence by his maternal uncle . His maternal uncle shows him the girl that he has chosen for him to marry.If the maternal uncle does not have any girl that he may show to the boy then he makes an offer to him to marry his own daughter instead. After this, the groom heads towards the mandap, where he meets the bride. Then the exchange of garlands takes place between the bride and the groom.
Oonjal ritual:- After exchanging garlands, the couple is seated on a swing and given milk and banana to eat. In this cooked rice balls are used to prevent the evil eye from harming them. These rice balls are coloured yellow and with turmeric and kumkum, and dipped a little in milk. Some milk is sprinkled on the bride and the groom’s feet. Several married women from bride’s family hold these rice balls and walk around the couple three times in clockwise and anticlockwise direction. Then, they throw the balls in four different directions to ward off the evil spirits.During all of these rituals traditional Oonjal Pattu songs are sung. After the traditional aarti, the bride and the groom proceed for the next ceremony – the kanyadaanam.
Before the actual Kanyadaanam ceremony, a corner of the bride’s sari is tied to a scarf. The scarf is then worn by the groom. A special thread is blessed with religious incantations and then it is used to tie the right hands of the bride and the groom. This is a symbol of new eternal unity. The couple prays to the God to give them blessings. The bride’s father welcomes the groom when he comes to the mandap, where the wedding ceremony is held. The bride’s mother applies kajal on the groom’s eyes while the bride’s father washes his feet. Through this ritual the father expresses the belief that the groom is the incarnation of Lord Vishnu and that the groom is going to take good care of his daughter.
Kanyadaan:- The Tamils follow a unique way of Kanyadaan where the bride sits on her father’s lap, holding a coconut. They offer it to the groom while the bride’s mother pours water over the coconut. This is a symbolic act of giving away the bride. The groom’s parents give the bride a nine yard sari.
Vidai:- The Final stage of the wedding, where the bride’s parents bid farewell to their daughter with their son-in law. The special significance of the ceremony lies in the fact that it is manifested with emotions of happiness and sorrow. But the celebrations does not stop here. It continues with Post-Wedding rituals.
Sammandhi Maryathai:- First post-wedding ritual where both families give each other gifts as a token of love and appreciation. The bride then leaves her parental home and sets voyage to her new abode with her husband.
Grihapravesham:- Groom’s mother welcomes the couple by performing a small
Aarti. In her new abode, the bride is 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’ i.e. holy lamp in the puja area.
Maruvidu Varudal:- This is a visit of the couple to their parents. It occurs at least three days after the wedding in which the couple gets gifts and jewelleries. Enveloped with customs and envisioning a flourishing prospect, the Tamil Hindu weddings seize a meaning behind every ceremony, bequeathing the bride and the groom with a blissful life as one.