Wedding ceremony of Tamil Brahmin
Different people perform wedding in different styles but the longest wedding will be the wedding of a tamil brahmin (Iyer) which lasts for three days. ( I don't know
whether brahmins of other categories follow the same way ). I have explained below the events of three days after seeing lot of marriages. The expenses for the wedding
has to be fully borne by the bride's parents and the wedding will be in their native place. The wedding will take place in a marriage hall. I am not sure whether i have
explained everything correctly and i have explained what i have seen and understood in the marriages i have seen. If anything is missing or not correct please comment.
Usually only close relatives and friends of bride / groom will be there for most of the day. Bride and her people will mostly come to the marriage on the night before day 1
while groom and his people will come on early morning .Before the groom enter the hall two ladies from bride side will take Aarti for the groom. The same thing is done
for bride also when she enters the hall. Now lets see the events on this day one by one.
This is purely a vedic ritual full of mantras recited by the family priests of the bride and groom. The main purpose of this ritual is to get blessings from the ancestors and
to indicate to the groom that he is going to quit his bachleor life .This pooja is done by bride and groom seperately. I have explained the ritual on bride's side . Almost the
same thing applies for groom also.The bride's mami ( Wife of her mother's brother ) will put garland on her neck.Before starting the pooja, bride and her parents will take
a cocunut and do namaskars to all the elder people in their family by giving the cocunut to them. Then they will do pooja for a long stick placed on the ground. Father will
place a vessel ( Its called kalasam )with water on the bride's head and recite mantras.Then he tells the name of the bride in her ears as if she is just born. Then they will
arrange 9 plantain leaves for 9 priests to sit and place rice, dhoties, banana, plantain etc on that leaf and give it to them . All the family members of the bride including
her will walk round the priests for three times and get the blessings from them. Then the pooja for nine grains are done by the married ladies related to the bride. (
Actually i still don't understand hat they are doing ). Finally after doing all poojas father ties the yellow thread on bride's left hand.
The same procedure is repeated for the groom with some differences :
- Groom's uncle ( His mother's brother ) will put garland for him
- Poojas done for the long stick and placing of vessel on bride's head is not done for groom.
- A different sacred thread indicating that he is quitting his bachelor life will be worn to the groom.
- Yellow thread is tied on groom's right hand.
Usually this pooja will take 2 to 3 hours for completing it.
Mapillai Azhappu / Janavasam ( Inviting the groom ):
Son-in-law is called 'Mapillai' in Tamil. This is an interesting and entertaining event of the day. But this is done only in towns and villages nowadays. We can
rarely see this in marriages in cities. Ladies from the bride side will take garlands, sweets, dress etc from the marriage hall to the temple . Bride's relatives and
groom's relatives will assemble on the temple. Bride's father will give groom a dress bought especially for the occasion. ( Mostly it will be a suite ).
Then the groom wears the new dress given and sits. Bride's brother will keep chandan and kumkum on groom's forehead. Then he will put garland on groom's
neck followed by wearing of chain, watch, bracelet etc. These things depend on the economic status of the bride. Then he gives sugar to the bride. Now the
much awaited procession starts. Groom will sit in a old style car decorated with flowers and lights and start from the temple to reach the marriage hall.
Usually small kids will sit in the car along with the groom.The procession will be followed by a large number of friends and relatives on both sides. Some
bride's parents will organise crackers like flower pots, rockets etc to be fired through out the procession. When the procession reaches the marriage hall
the bride also sits in the car along with groom for few minutes and two ladies will take aarti for the bride and groom together before they enter the hall.
This is the final event for the day. Bride's parents and groom's parents will sit opposite to each other along with their relatives. Bride will sit next to her
father. ( Groom will join during later part of the event ) Bride's father invites the groom's parents by giving sugar. Then the grooms parents will give the plate
with marriage invitation, fruits, petal leaves, chandan, kumkum etc to the bride's parents. Groom's parents will give saree taken specifically for this event
( But this saree will be bought on bride's side ) to bride. Groom's sister will take the bride along with her for dressing up. Then bride wears this new saree
and sits. Groom's sister ( She is called 'Nathanar' in Tamil ) keeps chandan and kumkum on bride's forehead. She also keeps sandol on her neck and hands .
Then she wears jewels bought for the bride by the groom's parents and ties petal leaves with banana on her pallu of the saree. Now our groom joins the scene
along with bride and they do namaskars for all the elderly people . After this photograph session will start and all the friends and relatives will take photographs
along with them and this marks the end of day 1.
Day 2 :
This is the most important day in one's life as the wedding is going to take place on this day.
The day starts with this event. The groom wears the traditional 18 yard dhoti and keeps sacred ashes on his body and fore head. Grooms's mami
( Wife of his mother's brother ) will keep eyeshades on the groom's eyes. This ritual is done to bring groom to married life as the groom is very frustrated
about his worldly life and starts to kasi to become a saint. He takes an umbrella, walking stick , hand fan and a religious book with him and walks to the
entrance of the hall. Bride's parents and his guru, uncle stop him and advise him to marry the bride and invites him by giving the coconut. This is the
significance of this event.
Oonjal ( Swing ):
Bride wears the saree taken especially for this event. Bride's uncle ( Her mother's brother ) puts garland on her neck. Bride and groom exchanges garland
with each other. Lot of fun will happen while exchanging garlands as bride / groom will walk away while the other person tries to put the garlands. Sometimes
the groom's uncle will lift him so that it will be difficult for the bride to put garland. If the bride is tall she can jump and put it . Otherwise the bride's uncle also
lifts her to put the garland. After the garlands exchanges are done, groom takes the bride to the swing and they will both sit in that. Small kids also wil sit along
with them. Then the married ladies on both the sides will sprinkle milk in their legs and give them milk and fruit. Ladies who know singing will sing during
Balls are made out of rice for this event. Usually it will be red in colour. Nowadays we can see green and yellow as well. Ladies one by one will revolve
the balls around the bride and groom three times clockwise and three times anticlockwise and throw the balls in all the directions without seeing it. Sometimes
it may even hit the head of the people standing. After this is over the bride's mother, groom's mother and groom's aunt wearing traditional nine yard saree taking
lamp kept in vessel, water kept in vessel and coconuts will walk around the bride and groom three times. Then they will give the coconut to bride and groom.
Then they enter the hall and will sit and make poojas.
After the poojas, the groom sits in a chair and the bride's parents washes the groom's legs with water. Then the bride's father sits on chair while the bride
sits on her father's lap keeping petal leaves and banana in her hands. Groom stands opposite to the bride. While the bride's father keeps his hand over the
banana and petal leaves , bride's mother pours water on the betal leaves, the groom holds his palms with the bride's indicating that he is accepting the bride.
Then the priest takes the wedding saree along with thirumangalyam and gets blessings from all. Bride makes a namsaskar to the groom and the groom gives
the wedding saree ( Traditional 9 yard saree.Usually maroon colour ) to the bride.
Groom's sister takes the bride for wearing the wedding saree. Bride after wearing the wedding saree comes and sits on his father's lap. Priests announce
to the audience that the marriage is going to happen. All friends and relatives surround the bride and groom for the wonderful moment of life. With the
instruments playing in background groom ties the 1 knot of wedding rope to the bride while the other two knots are tied by the groom's sister. Bride's
parents gives a silk saree to the groom's sisiter for tieing the knots.We can see lot of handshakes , tears from bride's parents and smiles from other people.
Then the bride's aunt puts the silver footrim on the finger next to the thumb finger of her legs.
Priests usually advice the audience not to shake hands with the bride or groom till this event. Wife folds her fingers in the shape of a lotus and the
husband hold her fingers and they walk around the fire praying to all gods.
Husband holds the leg of his wife and she walks 7 steps and the meaning of the seven steps are:
1. For a happy and healthy home
2. To improve ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually.
3. To increase our wealth in honest ways.
4. To gain knowledge and happing by mutual understanding and love.
5. To have good children.
6. To care for each other till the last moment in our lives.
7. To be true companions and partners till the end.
Husband will help her wife in taking the popped rice and throwing it to the fire. Then the brother of the bride takes popped rice and gives to the
groom and bride who keeps their hands one below other open to get the rice and throws it to the fire, This is repeated for three. Usually the groom
will gift the bride's brother for doing this ritual. Many will give a gold ring.
If the groom's native is also the same as bride's this will take place in the groom's residence. Otherwise they will do this in the marriage hall.
The groom's parents will invite the bride to their place and offer her milk and fruits. They usually give a saree to her for this occasion. Then
they will give blouse bits for the relatives of the bride.
This will happen in evening and is a funny game. This was kept in olden days as the bride and the groom were unknown to each other and this
can help them to get little closer. But nowadays the boy and girl are talking daily with each other and going out. So this event is not popular in cities
and happend only in towns and villages .Bride and groom will keep kumkum on the forehead , hands and legs. They will comb each other's hair and
show the mirror to them and ask whether it is good. They will break pappads on each other's head. Then one will keep cocunut by closing his fingers
around it and the other will try to remove his fingers and get the coconut. This is to find out who is stronger. Rule here is girl can use both hands
but guy can use only one. Then they will exchange rice and dhal. They will sing songs and this event marks the end of day 2.
There are no events on this day. This day will be a sad day for the girl and her family as she is leaving her place. So we can see lot of crying on this
day by the bride, her parents, relatives etc. The bride will start her journey for a new life along with her new family. Mostly bride's parents go along
with her and drop her at her inlaws house and return.