Tamil wedding rituals

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Published: 02nd June 2010
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‘Wedding' in itself is a tradition that exemplifies the richness of Indian culture ascribing to the bonds of sanctity, love and devotion. India is a country that not only epitomises an amalgamation of various languages and customs, but also a union of diverse lands, comprising their respective ethics and conventions, amidst which ‘marriage' stands as one of the major traditions which is dealt differently by the respective cultural practices prevalent in our country.

Indian weddings stand testimony to years and years of companionship, love and faith, upon which generations of a family are built, comprising of the familial joys and sorrows which bind individuals in familial ties.



Tamil wedding symbolises a ritual that exhibits the simplicity of the Tamil community, upholding the diverse customs and practices that precede the basic wedding rituals. South India boasts of its elementariness and simplicity, the humility of the people, which are in turn extended to their cultural practices.



Wedding for the Tamil community is an occasion of the union between near and dear ones to celebrate the festivities. Particular to the usual affairs of matrimony, Tamil wedding rituals are comparatively large scale.



Tamil wedding comprises of various pre-wedding rituals. The rituals embody diverse practices such as Paalikali Thalippu which includes decorating seven clay pots with sandalwood paste and kumkum powder, which are then filled with curd and nine types of grains nava dhaanyam. Sumangalai Prarthanai is a ritual that includes the practice of blessing the soon-to-be brides with a fate of death before their husbands, the occurrence of which is considered lucky. The customs also include a bathing ritual called Kalyanaponnu, performed separately at the girl and boy's house where they are anointed with scented oils after which they are not supposed to leave their homes till the marriage. Other rituals such as Nandi Devata Pooja, Navgraha Pooja, Vritham, Naandi Shraartham, Janavasanam, Nicchiyadharatham are also followed respectively.



The commixture of such distinct wedding practices depicts that even though the Tamil community stands unconfined to extravagance and lavishness, their weddings are an occasion held on a large scale, and exemplifies the convergence of distant relatives and friends. (This sentence is a little confusing)



The wedding rituals comprise of the practices of Mangalasnanam which refers to the ceremonial bathing at an auspicious hour early in the morning of the wedding for the Tamil bride and Tamil groom. On this occasion, aarti is performed by the ladies of the family, after which the bride and the groom are taken for dressing up. This is followed by the Gauri Pooja wherein the bride pays privately to gauriamma. Kaasi Yatra and Pada Pooja are the customs that are followed thereon, which finally pave way to the final matrimonial proceedings.



The matrimony stands witness to the exchange of garlands between the bride and the groom, symbolising their unification. This is followed by their seating on a swing where they are offered milk and bananas by the elder ladies of the family who also throw coloured rice balls in four directions to ward off the evil spirits. The ritual of Kanyadan is then performed by the father of the bride, handing over his daughter who is gracefully accepted by the groom and his family. The practice is extended to tying a piece of string to the groom's waist and bride's wrist, followed by the placing of ‘mangalasutra' by the groom around the bride's neck. The marriage finally culminates by the couple taking seven steps together. The couple then goes out of the marriage venue so that they can spot the Pole Star and the star of Arundhati, after which the bride makes offerings of parched rice grains in to fire after which the groom puts on toe rings on his bride's right feet. Then, the couple drinks Panaham, a traditional beverage made with jaggery, cardamom and black pepper in water.



Tamil weddings cannot be held in the months of Aashad (July 15th to August 15th), Bhadrapad (September 15th to October 15th) and Shunya (December 15th to January 15th), as well as on weekdays of Tuesdays and Saturdays, each of which is considered inauspicious.



Thus, Tamil wedding is an extensive conjunction of diverse practices that embellishes the occasion. The customs, though lengthy, symbolize extreme simplicity of thought and action among the Tamil community and its people.

One amongst the various cultures that embellish India, Tamil culture thus boasts of its beautiful yet simple conventions of matrimony, that exhibit its vibrancy and grace.

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