India is a land of celebration, tradition and customs and these are seen vividly at Indian marriages. Kerala weddings are a fine example of these age old rites and rituals followed with simplicity and elegance. Let’s take a look at the various rituals that make Kerala matrimony a special one.
Pre Wedding Rituals:
Nishchyam or the Engagement Ceremony – An engagement usually takes place at the bride’s house where both the families meet and the astrologer takes out an auspicious day for the wedding. A peculiar tradition at these engagements is that the bride and the groom are not present. The ceremony is culminated with a grand Sadya or a traditional Malyalee meal served on a banana leaf.
Thaleluarieduva – This ceremony happens separately at both the ends of bride’s and the groom’s family either on the wedding day or a day prior. It is an occasion for the family members to bless the bride and the groom and as a symbol of prosperity they pour raw rice over their heads.
On the wedding day, the bride goes to a temple to give Vazhipad (offering) and Nirmala (garland) asking for a good married life. At the wedding venue the elder brother of the bride receives the groom with a bouquet while the prospective mother-in-law showers raw-rice mixed with Tulsi leaves. Thereafter, the groom is taken to the mandap.
For the actual wedding ceremony the bride arrives in a traditional Kasavu Saree accompanied to the mandap by her aunts and sisters each of them holding lamps. The bride along with her aunts encircles the mandap three times and then she is seated to the left of the groom.
After they are seated, the groom’s parents get a thali or a mangalsutra with a leaf like pendant. The groom ties this around the bride’s neck. As a symbol of union and happiness, garlands are exchanged between the bride and the groom. Thereafter, the father of the bride holds the bride’s hand and gives it to the groom. It signifies that the father has now handed over the apple of his eye to the groom’s family.
The priest recites some verses from the Vedas for the happy and prosperous wedded life of the couple during this ceremony, which the father of the bride has to repeat. At the end, the groom holds the bride’s hand and goes around the stage three times. As a token of thanks and in reverence both the bride and the groom give dakshina (token amount) to the priest. To culminate this simple yet meaningful wedding a sadya or grand meal is served.
Post Wedding Rituals:
Grihapravesh: The newlywed couple is welcomed at the groom’s place by his relatives. The bride holds a Nilavilakku (traditional lamp) while entering the groom’s house. She steps into the house with her right leg first. A Ganpathi pooja is performed by the couple as a mark of good omen. The bride then boils milk in the kitchen as a symbol of her inclusion into the new family.
Lastly, relatives from the bride’s family arrive to take the couple to their house where they stay for 4-5 days.
Malyalee weddings are short and simple but steeped in tradition and customs. They bring out the real essence of marriage and union between two people.