Tamilian Wedding is simple but not extravagant. These are usually well attended by large number of close as well as distant relatives. As there are a large number of Tamilian communities, there are variations in the rituals followed by them. However, the basic set of wedding customs remains the same for most of them. Tamil weddings are fixed after consulting the Hindu calendar. As per the Tamil calender the months of Aashad (July 15 to Aug15), Bhadrapad (Sep 15 to Oct 15th) and Shunya (Dec 15 to Jan 15) are considered inauspicious for weddings and hence, Tamilian weddings are not held in these months.
Match - Making
In case of arrange marriages, parents of the prospective bride and the groom exchange horoscope after they have finalized on someone. The family priest then compare horoscope in various regards.
Given here is a short description of the pre-wedding rituals of a Tamilian Wedding.
- Drawing up the Marriage Agreement :When the match is finalized, a private function is organized to draw up the marriage agreement. On an auspicious day, priests from either side meet in the groom's house and an exchange of the marriage agreement takes place. The agreement is placed on a plate along with bananas, coconuts and betel leaf. Usually, the groom's family gives the bride a silk sari while the groom receives clothes or cash.
- Paalikali Thalippu/ Karappu : This unique ceremony is performed by the bride's family a couple of days preceding the wedding. To the accompaniment of songs and music (Gauri Kalyanam), special clay pots are decorated with sandalwood paste and kumkum powder. A little curd is placed in each pot and nine types of grain - nava dhaanyam, are sprinkled in these pots and watered by five or seven married ladies from both sides. These ladies are given gifts. Then on the next day after wedding the bride and groom throw these pots into a nearby pond or water tank. By this time, the grains have sprouted. It is believed that the fish in the water will eat the sprouted grains and then bless the bride and the groom.
- Kalyanaponnu/ Kalyanappillai : This is essentially a bathing ritual which is observed in the form of a small private function separately in the bride's and the groom's house. Kalyanaponnu is usually performed on the Friday preceding the wedding. A 'peedi' or wooden seat is placed in front of a kolam. The bride is given an oil bath with til sesame oil. She is gifted a green sari. After her bath she wears the same along with green and red bangles. The bride's mother gives her the entire trousseau. After this ritual the girl is confined to the house till her marriage. In the groom's house the father pours oil on the groom's head and gifts him clothes and toiletries. The boy too is then confined till marriage.
- Panda Kaal Muhurtham: Under Panda Kaal Muhurtam, a small ritual is performed one day before the wedding to invoke the blessings of the family deity to ensure that the wedding preparations proceed smoothly. The family of the bride and the groom pray to the deity who is symbolically represented by a bamboo pole.
- Receiving the Groom and his Family : When the groom and his family arrive at the wedding hall on the morning one-day before the wedding, they are welcomed with a tray containing offerings of flowers, paan supari, fruits and mishri. Rose water is sprinkled on the groom. The bride's brother applies a tilak of sandalwood paste and kumkum on his forehead and garlands him. The bride's mother offers the groom's parents a sweet dish prepared from condensed milk. It is also customary to break a coconut to the ground to help ward off evil spirits.
- Naandi Shraartham: As a symbol of the souls of the ancestors of both sides, eight or ten Brahmins are invited. The two families seek their blessings and honour them with gifts of paan-supari, fruits, flowers, coconuts, sweets and dhoti-angavastram (clothes).
- Janavasanam : The tradition is rarely practiced these days. The groom gets into a decorated car and is escorted to the wedding venue by a large and joyous procession of family and friends accompanied by professional musicians playing traditional wedding music. Sometimes there are fireworks also to celebrate the occasion. On their arrival at the wedding venue, the groom is welcomed with garlands by the bride's brother.
- Nicchiyadharatham : In this ceremony, parents of the bride along with the priest perform Ganesh Pooja. The groom's party gives the bride a new sari. Then the bride is seated and a tilak of chandan and kumkum is applied to her forehead. The pallav of her sari is filled with fruits, paan supari, turmeric, kumkum and coconut. A garland of flowers is tied around her waist. An arti is also performed of her.
- Mangalasnanam : In the morning of the wedding day, an auspicious hour (muhurtam) is chosen for a ceremonial bath or mangalsnanam for the bride and the groom. The bride and groom sit on low wooden stools or peedis around rangolis. The bride and the groom sit separately between their respective parents. The bride and the groom are anointed with turmeric, kumkum and oil. The ladies perform arti. The bride's mother gifts a 9 yard maroon sari to the bride and a dhoti to the groom both to be worn for the actual wedding ceremony. Then the bride and the groom go to their respective homes to bathe and dress.
- Gauripooja : fortunate. The mothers of
- Kashi Yatra : After the mangala snaanam, the groom pretends to leave for Kashi, a pilgrimage center to devote himself to God and a life of prayer. He carries a walking stick and other meager essentials with him to imply that he is not interested in becoming a householder. The girl's father intervenes and requests him to accept his daughter as his life partner and to fulfill his responsibilities as a householder The groom relents and returns to the pandal where he is received by the bride.
- Padapooja : On his return from the mock Kashi Yatra, the groom is seated and the mother of the bride washes his feet in water, chandan and kumkum in a brass vessel. She then calls the bride who is brought in by her maternal uncle.
There are a large number of unique customs followed in a Tamilan Wedding. Please read on to know more about them.
- Exchange of Garlands : In a Tamilian Wedding, the bride and the groom exchange garlands three times. This ceremony is also associated with lighter moments when the bride is teasingly pulled away as the boy reaches out to garland the girl.
- Oonjal : When the couple finally succeed in garlanding each other thrice, they are made to sit together on a swing. Small balls of cooked rice, colored yellow and red with turmeric and kumkum are lightly dipped in milk, which is sprinkled on the bride and groom's feet. Married ladies, from the bride's side circumambulate the rice balls around the bride and the groom thrice in clockwise and anti-clockwise direction and then throw them in all four directions to prevent evil forces from creating any hitches. A mixture of milk and banana is given to the bride and the groom. The older women holding alternately, a lamp and a water urn, circumambulate the couple. This is done three or four times. Amidst all this, traditional Oonjal Pattu songs for the occasion are sung.
- Kanyadaanam : In this unique ceremony, the corner of the bride's sari is tied to a scarf, which is worn by the groom. The right hands of the couple are tied with a thread that has been blessed with religious incantations. The tying of the hands signifies an eternal bond that will join them forever. The couple then prays to the Gods to give them strength and bless their union.The bride's father welcomes the groom when he comes to the mandapam where the sacred fire around which the wedding ceremonies will be conducted. The bride's mother applies kajal in the groom's eyes. The bride's father washes his son-in-law's feet. Through this gesture the father conveys that that the boy is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and believes that he will support and take good care of his daughter. The bride sits on her father's lap with a coconut in her hands. The father and bride offer the coconut to the groom while the bride's mother pours water over the coconut thus symbolizing the 'giving away of their daughter.' The groom's parents gift the bride a nine-yard sari to be worn for the auspicious occasion of tying the mangasultra.
- Muhurtum : With the help of her female relatives the bride changes into a nine-yard sari and again enters the mandapam. A sack of paddy is placed on the floor. The bride's father is seated on this and the bride sits on her father's lap. The sack of paddy symbolizes good fortune and abundance in terms of material and spiritual wealth. The yoke of a farmer's plough is touched to the bride's forehead. This gesture carries the hope that the couple will always walk together, by each other's side to pull the plough of life. The priest and relatives bless the mangalsutra or sacred thread and hand it to the groom who ties it around the neck of his bride with two knots. His groom's sister ties the third knot much to the rejoicing of everyone accompanied by the drums of the melam. The three knots symbolize the marriage of the mind, spirit and body.
- Saptapadi : Saptapadi constitutes the chief element of the marriage. The groom takes the bride's right hand in his left hand and leads her around the sacred fire seven times. The bride begins each round by touching her feet to a grinding stone. This signifies her hope that their union may be as firm and steadfast as the grinding stone. While taking each step, the groom has to recite a Vedic verse (mantra). Saptapadi completes the marriage ceremony. Friends and family now enjoy a sumptuous lunch hosted by the bride's father.
Here is a description of some of the most relevant post-wedding rituals followed in a Tamilian Wedding.
- Sammandhi Mariyathai : Following wedding, the families of the newly-weds exchange clothes and other gifts befitting their status during this ceremony.
- Paaladaanam : The bride and groom seek the blessings of the senior members of the family by prostrating in front of them. They also offer them a gift of fruits and a token rupee.
- Grihapravesham : The wedding rituals over, the bride is escorted to the groom's house. If he lives far from the venue, she is taken to the home of his nearest relative. She is welcomed into her new home with an arati.
- Reception : After the series of religious ceremonies, the evening reception marks a tone of informality with the guests meeting the couple and conveying their best wishes to their families.
- Maruvidu Varudal : At least three days after the wedding, the newly wed couple visits the bride's parents. It is a small private gathering. The bride's parents give gifts of clothes/jewelry to the bride and the groom.