Viratham: Ceremony observed to obtain blessings from departed elders
Viratham ceremony performed separately by bride and groom. The rituals followed for the groom are far more elaborate than those for the bride.
‘Charadu’ A Sacred yellow thread is tied on the wrists of the bride and groom and they are not permitted to leave the marriage venue. The ‘palika’ ceremony (sprinkling of nine varieties of grains) for the prosperity of the couple’s new life together is conducted simultaneously with the ‘viratham’.
To culminate the function, an ‘aarthi’ is performed
Janavasam & Nichayartham: Inviting the groom to the mandapam
This is a very important aspect of the marriage where any differences between the families are sorted out. The ceremony traditionally takes place in a temple. The bride’s family brings turmeric, betel leaves, nuts and clothes for the groom. The bride’s brother then garlands the groom, and sugar candy is distributed to all present. The groom is then escorted to a decorated car and the family leaves in a procession for the ‘mandapam’.
Once the procession reaches the marriage venue, the bride is led outside by her close friends to get a glimpse of her future husband! ‘Aarthi’ is performed and a coconut broken to ward off evil. The groom is then led to the ‘medai’ (an elevated place in the ‘mandapam’ where all the ceremonies are performed). Members of both families sit opposite each other and a ‘lagna patrigai’ is written and read aloud by the ‘pujari’. ‘Thamboolams’ (platters of betel nuts, dry fruits, nuts, coconuts, turmeric and ‘kumkumam’) and gifts are exchanged.
The cone shaped ‘parupputhengai’ (a special sweetmeat) is an important part of all these ceremonies.
Kashi Yatra: The groom embarks on a mock pilgrimage
Some families actually have autos waiting outside the mandapam giving the boy one last chance to actually run away! Dressed in the traditional ‘panchakatcham’, holding an umbrella, a fan, a walking stick, and a towel containing ‘dal’ (lentils) and rice tied to his shoulder, the groom embarks on a mock pilgrimage.
As he steps out of the ‘mandapam’, the bride’s father pleads with him not to go to ‘Kashi’ (a sacred pilgrimage site in the city of Benaras) and marry his daughter instead.
In this tradition, the bride and the groom are asked to sit on a wooden plank swing, where ladies of the house sing traditional folk songs and celebrated the holiness of the marriage.
This is where the bride and groom are offered a banana dipped in the milk. The tradition is basically to ease their tension of marriage and make them comfortable
Kashi Yatra: The groom embarks on a mock pilgrimage
Amidst the chanting of ‘mantras’ (Vedic chants), the priest ignites the sacred fire. The groom is gifted a ‘muhurtha veshti’ (a 4 metre long silk dhoti) and a ‘anga-vastram’ (a 2 metre long silk fabric to be used as a shawl). The bride is seated on her father’s lap for the ‘kanyadhanam’.
The bride and groom together hold a coconut dipped in turmeric, while the bride’s mother pours water onto the coconut. This is the actual ritual of ‘kanyadhanam’.
Mangalyadharanam: The groom ties the sacred ‘taali’ (mangalsutra) on the bride
The ‘kanyadhanam’ is followed by the ‘mangalyadharanam’. The ‘taali’ or ‘mangalsutra’ is placed on the bride’s head along with a miniature piece of jewellery shaped like a yoke Mangalyadharanam and the groom performs a ‘puja’ with ‘kumkumam’ and flowers. He then ties the first knot of the ‘taali’ around the bride’s neck and his sister ties the other two.
Sapthapathi: Seven steps around the sacred fire
The bride’s sari ‘pallu’ and the groom’s ‘angavastram’ (shawl) are tied in a knot and the couple hold hands. The groom places his foot under the bride’s and helps her to take the seven steps around the fire. Then he places the bride’s foot on a grinding stone near the fire and slips silver rings or ‘metti’ on her toes.
A The couple is then shown the ‘Dhruva Nakshatra’ or Pole Star, a symbol of permanence and the ‘Arundhati Nakshatram’ or symbol of purity and virtue.
'Nalangu' refers to the fun filled game session that comes immediately after the wedding is over. It is looked forward to as an opportunity for both families to interact in a relaxed manner sharing a sense of bonhomie and camaraderie after the hecticwedding preparations. A lot of music and cheer fills the air with both parties taking sides in supporting the bride and groom in the course of the small games that are conducted.
The bride and groom are seated opposite each other on a mat on the floor and the session starts with a small 'make - up' session where the couple have to apply sandal paste, kumkum, powder and other beautifying elements on each other. This is followed by rolling of the coconut across the floor to each other which is followed by a tug - of - war contest to see who is stronger of the two in retrieving the coconut, exchange of rice & dal, and breaking of the appalams to the accompaniment of loud cheers and shouts.
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