A Telugu matrimonial is culturally rich and vibrant where a lot of emphasis is laid on symbolism and spirituality. Let’s find out more about such customs and traditions.
Nalugu – This ritual is the start of the gala wedding affair where the bride and groom are smeared in essential oils and turmeric a day prior to the wedding. The intention behind this ritual is make the skin glow so that the couple outshines everyone on their special day.
Snatakam – This is a ritualistic bath for the groom and its significance dates back to ancient times when Brahmin boys were made to wear sacred threads and then sent away to wise sages to learn scriptures. On their return they had to perform the Snatakam that signified the end of their education and it meant that they can take on other responsibilities like starting a family. Today, the ritual shows that the groom is ready for marriage by wearing a silver thread.
Gauri Pooja – It is prayer performed by the bride to the Goddess Gauri as the goddess represents fertility and also because of her ideal bond with her husband Lord Shiva. The bride prays for such a marriage with her future husband.
Terasalla – The actual Telugu wedding ceremony starts here when the bride is seated in basket lined with rice. Rice is the staple diet of the state and is also considered to be a sign of prosperity and hence, used in auspicious functions like weddings. The maternal uncle of the bride carries her to the mandap where she sits across a curtain or terasalla till the ceremony is over. There is always a veil between the groom and the bride as it is inauspicious to see each other till this ceremony is complete.
Kanyadaan – It literally means ‘offering the bride,’ and here the bride’s family officially gives their daughter’s hand to the groom. Sometimes a sweet dish and gifts are also given to the groom and his family, a substitute for a cow as done in the olden days. The groom is considered to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu so the bride’s parents wash his feet before this ceremony.
Jeelakarra-Bellamu – In this ceremony a paste of cumin and jaggery is placed on the hands of the couple, which they put on each other’s heads. This mixture of bitter and sweet flavor signifies that the couple will be with each other through the good and bad times of life.
Mangalsutra Dharana – In this ceremony a two pendant mangalsutra is tied by the groom around the bride’s neck as an identification of a married woman. He makes three knots signifying their union on a mental, physical and spiritual level.
Saptapadi – Sapta means seven and padi means step. In this ceremony, the bride and the groom take seven steps around the sacred fire. The fire is meant to destroy all evil and also is a witness to the holy ceremony. The seven steps signify nourishment, strength, honor, comfort, health, prosperity and spiritual growth for their life together.
Sthaalipaakam – This is the final ritual of the wedding ceremony where the groom puts silver toe rings on the second toes of his wife’s feet as a mark of a married woman and also makes her wear a necklace of gold and black beads that is meant to ward off any evil eye.
Griha Pravesh – In this post wedding ritual the bride is welcomed into the groom’s house. She tips over a pot of rice and enters the house with her right feet where the groom’s mother welcomes the bride with an aarti. Rice is used as an auspicious element for starting any new phase in life.
Union of the Mangalsutra – This is the last post wedding ritual that involves uniting the two mangalsutras into a common thread 16 days after the wedding. It is usually done by an elder member of the family or the husband himself. A few black or golden beads are put between the two plates so that they don’t clash with each other. The beads signify harmony between the two families and 16 days is symbolic of the time needed by the bride to understand the groom’s family.
At a glance, these prolonged rituals of any Telugu marriage appear to be chaotic and unnecessary to any person but delving deeper into it one realizes the symbolic meaning of these holy vows. Each ritual has its own significance with the main aim of blessing the couple with a happy and peaceful life ahead.