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Weddings in South India

Posted on 12, October 2022 05:51:26 PM

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Emerging out of one of the oldest cultures of India, Tamil Brahmin weddings emphasize the celebration of heritage and customs over displays of grandeur. A kaleidoscopic guide to different regional cultures, spanning rituals, customs, fashion, and more.

Wedding Functions

Panda Kaal Muhurtham
Once the wedding is finalized, the bride and groom’s families offer their prayers to their deity and seek blessings for a successful marriage and the protection of the couple. Mostly held a day before the wedding, it is attended by close family members and generally held at a temple or their homes. 

 Sumangali Prarthana
Sumangalis are women who have led happy, fulfilled married lives. Married older relatives and friends of the bride take part in this prayer ceremony and invoke the blessings of their late female ancestors for the bride’s happy married life. The same ritual is performed at the groom’s home to bless the new bride joining their family.

Generally held on the morning of the day before the wedding, the Vrutham signifies the groom’s transition from bachelorhood to being a married man. A sacred thread stained yellow with turmeric is tied around his wrist to ward off evil energy. A similar ritual is done for the bride. 

The formal engagement ceremony in Tamil Weddings sees the groom and his family arriving at the bride’s home with gifts for her such as a saree and jewelry. She is seated and aarti is performed, and the sumangalis (married women) tie grains, betel nuts, turmeric, and coconuts in the pallu of her saree. A similar ritual is done for the groom, where he is presented with special clothes as well. The couple then changes into their new clothes and does the ring ceremony. 

Gauri Puja

Once dressed, this ritual is done by the bride to Goddess Gauri, who represents purity and virtue. An idol is placed on a plate with rice and Kumkum, and the bride prays and seeks blessings from her for a happy marriage. 

Kashi Yatra
An ancient custom rooted in history, the Kashi yatra is one of the most delightful rituals of a Tamil wedding. Once the groom’s family reaches the venue, the groom grabs an umbrella, a walking stick, and food to head to Kashi (Banaras) to renounce worldly pleasures and dedicate his life to god. As everyone looks on, the father of the bride then convinces him to choose a life of domestic bliss instead of being a hermit and promises to give his daughter’s hand to him. 

Pada Puja
The groom arrives at the mandap, where the father of the bride washes his feet with holy water, sandalwood, milk, and Kumkum. 

A ritual common to every culture in the world, the Kanyadanam marks the official giving away ceremony of the bride by her parents to the groom. He is made to sit on the floor where his feet are washed by the bride’s father, who sits opposite him with the bride on his lap. He supports her hands holding a coconut which is then offered to the groom, as her mother pours holy water over it. With this gesture, they officially hand over their daughter for life, asking him to cherish her and protect her. The bride and groom’s hands are tied with a sacred thread to seal their union. 

After the Kanyadanam, the groom’s parents gift the bride a nine-yard silk saree to welcome her into their family, which is draped around her shoulders while the groom applies sindoor on her hair parting. The bride then changes into the new saree and returns for a few more rituals. The thaali (South Indian equivalent of Mangalasutra) is then blessed by the priest and tied around her neck by the groom. The first two knots of the Thaali are put in by the groom, while the third and final ones are put in by the groom’s sister. 

The bride and the groom hold hands and take seven steps around the holy fire while the priest chants Vedic mantras in Sapthapadi, one of the most important rituals in a Hindu marriage. The groom then holds the bride’s left toe as she steps over a grindstone, symbolizing the solidity of their union.


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