SOUTH INDIAN WEDDING-THE TRADITION AND THE RATIONALE

 
 

 

Basically the tents of the Hindu Marriage, its conduct, procedures and styles are explicitly laid down in the Vedas. Due to Regional Cultural influences, pleasant variations have crept in without altering the fundamentals. The Hindu wedding is a balanced blending of religious, Moral, Cultural and joy, making it a memorable event. The Vedic rituals solemnize the marriage while indoctrinating specified duties of the couple through life.
   
   

THE EVENING PREVIOUS TO THE MARRIAGE DAY- USHERING – IN OF THE BRIDEGROOM

   
   

On the evening prior to the wedding day, the bridegroom is to be brought in a procession from a temple in a flower decorated vehicle. He is escorted by the bride’s parents and welcomed at the marriage mandap which is the bride’s abode. Nadaswaram band leads the procession along the street, in the flower decorated vehicle jam-packed with children.

  • This is a social function, called JAANA VASAM, in South India and BARAAT in North India.
  • Through such a parade, public approval is sought of the groom, choosen by the family.
  • After reaching the marriage hall, there is a formal ceremony of betrothal.
   
    ON THE WEDDING DAY- THE PRELIMINARY INVOCATIONS “GANAPATI PUJA”    
   

As in any function – Ganapati, the God of Initiation is invoked, first to keep away all impediments. “NAANDI DEVATA PUJA”
There are several presiding deities – the Naandi Devatas.To propitiates them, a leaf – laden branch of the pipal tree is installed, and an ablution with milk is performed by five Sumangalis. This puja is followed by a presentation of a dhothi, and a saree to the couple.
“NAVAGRAHA PUJA” This is performed to propitiate the nine astral planets that rule over man’s destinies. VRATHAM
The marriage ceremonies begin with the vratham performed separately by the bride and the groom. For the bride, it means the tying of the KAPPU. The Holy thread on her wrist which is meant toward off all evil spirits.It symbolizes a kind of protective armour for the bride, For the groom, the Vratham begins with invocations – involing the various Gods – Indra ,Soma,Chandr, Agni. From there on, the groom prepares himself for a new chapter

in his life as a householder or Grihasta.The Days of his bachelorhood or brahmacharya are now over and the vow to uphold these values in “Vratham”.
KASI YATHRA
This is a very important part of the ceremony. Immediately after his, student life the young bachelor has two alternatives before him – Married life (Grihasta) or asceticism (Sanyas). Being by nature escapist, he prefers the ascetic life to the tribulations of married life. He therefore ‘makes his way’ to Kasi (VARANASI)

Complete with slippers, umbrella, bamboo fan etc.On his way, the brides’s father intervenes and advises him of the superiority of married life to ascetic life. He also promises to give him his daughter as is to remain with groom, to remain him in the future of this advice.
VAAKU NICHAYA MUHOORTHAM
At he marriage hall, the bride’s father and the bridegroom’s father facing each other, solemnize the final betrothal ceremony, the Vedic priests chanting the relevant hymns – in which the names of the bride, the bridegroom, as well as the names of the bride, the bridegroom, as well as the name of their three generations of ancestors, are cited in the presence of friends, relatives and guests.
The manthras sa: “O God Varuna, Be she harmless to my brother and sister! May she think no evil to her husband Oh Lord Indra! Bless her to be a good guardian of her children! Oh Surya! Bless her with all wealth!”
EXCHANGE OF GARLANDS
The bride and the groom are lifted to the shoulders of their respective maternal uncles; and in the position to two garlands each other thrice for a complete union A garland worn by a person, should not be used by another, ordain our Shastras.Here, the exchange of garlands symbolize their unification – as one soul in two the bodies. It is the inward acceptance of holy union.
OONCHAL
SWING, RIDE AND SINGING OF LAALI
Then the couples are seated on a swing (OONCHAL) they rock forth and back, as the ladies around sing – LAALI, songs to praise the couple. The Chains of the swing signify the eternal Cosmic link with Almighty above ; the to – and – fro motion represent the undulating sea-waves of life; yet, in mind anybody they shall move in harmony unperturbed, steady and stable.
PAALIKAI” SEEDS SOWING”
This is a fertility, rite, pallikais are earthen pots prepared a day earlier – pots spread at the base with hariali grass and Bael leaves (Vilvam); nine kinds of pre-soaked cereals are ceremonially sown in these pots by Sumangalis.After the marriage, the sprouted seedings released in a river or Pool. This ritual invokes the blessings of the eight – guadrants and their guardian angels, fro a healthy life and progeny.

VARA PUJA
The feet of the bridegroom is washed in milk and wiped off with silk.
Water and lighted lamps are circulated around the swing in order to guard the couplev against evil.
Coloured globules of cooked rice are circumambulated and thrown over – to propitiate compassionate souls.
“KANYA DHAANAM”

  • The bride is made to sit on her father’s lap and is given away as gift by him, to the bridegroom. On the girl’s head, a ring made with Kusa, the scared grass called DARBHA, is placed, and over it, is placed a yoke; the Gold Mangal Sutra (or THAALI) is placed right on the aperture of the yoke, and water is poured through the aperture. The Manthras chanted at this time say:
  • “Let this gold multiply your wealth! Let this water purify your married life, and may your prosperity increase. Offer yourself to your husband!”
  • The bride then id\s given an auspicious benediction, and an exclusive new KOORAI saree is draped around her – this done by the sister of the bride groom.
    To the bride in her new saree, a belt made of reed-grass is tied around the waist. The Manthras Chant:
    “She standeth here, pure before the holy fire, as one’s blessed with boons of a good mind, a healthy body, life-long companionship of her husband (Sumangali Bhagyam) and children with long life.
    She standeth as one who is avowed to stand by her husband virtuously. Be tied with this re-grass rope, to the sacrament of marriage!”
  • Thanks giving Vedic hymns follow to the celestial caretakers of her childhood: the Deities of SOMA, GANDHARVA and AGNI.Having attaines nobility, the girl is now free to be given over to the care of the human-her man.
  • The Vedic concept underlying this ritual is figuratively this : that in her infant stage ,SOMA had given her coolness of the moon, and strength: in the next stage,GANDHARVA had given her bodily beauty: and lastly AGNI gave her the passions.
  • The father of the bride, while offering his daughter chants:
    “I offer you my daughter, a maiden virtuous, good-natured, very wise, and decked
    with ornaments to the best of my ability - : that she shall guard the Dharma, wealth and Love!”

THE BRIDEGROOMS ASSURANCE
This offering his daughter, her father gets a word of assurance three times that the bridegroom shall remain for ever her companion in joy and sorrow – in this life, and beyond.
“KANKANA DHAARANAM”
The bride ties a string fastened to a piece of turmeric, around the wrist of the bridegroom – to bind themselves by a religious vow. It is only after tying the Kankanam that the bridegroom gets the right to touch the bride. A little later, the bridegroom ties a Kankanam on the bride’s wrist.
“MANGALAYA DHARANAM”
Next, timed to exact auspicious hour, is the typing of the Mangala Sutra (Thaali).

The bride is seated over a sheaf of grains – laden hay looking eastward, and the bridegroom facing wetward, ties the gold Mangala Sutra around the neck of the bride. As he does as, the Nadaswaram drums are beaten loud and fast, so as o muffle any inauspicious Sound at the hour.

This is called Getti Malam. As it sounds, the sumanagali ladies sing “GOURI KALYANAME, VAIBHOGAMAY!”
The inherent and eternal qualities of PRAKRITI SATTVA, RAAJAS and TAMAS three strings woven into one, three qualities mixed into one or three strata pressed together – matrix of the Universe permeating all things:
Three knots are tied – the first one by the bridegroom, the other two knots by his sister to make the bride a part of the family. the Vedic hymn recited by the bridegroom when he ties the knot,, is “ Praying the Almighty that I be blessed with a long life, I tie this knot around your neck.oh Sowbhagyavati may providence bestow on you a fulfilling life of a ‘Sumangali’ for a hundred years to come!”
‘PAANI GRAHANAM’
This means “holding hands”. The groom holds the hand of the bride. The Manthras say: The Devas has offered you t me in order that I may live the life of a householder (GRIHASTA): we shall not part from each other even after we grow infirm due to age!
“SAPTHA PADHI”
Holding the bride’s hand, the bridegroom walks seven steps with her. this is the most important part of the marriage ceremony, and only when they walk 7 steps together (i.e. perform SAPTHA PADHI) is the marriage complete legally the belief is that when one walks 7 steps with me, become my companion whereby I acquire your friendship.
we shall remain together,inseperable.let us make a vow together we shall share love, share the same food, share the strength, the same tastes. We shall be of one mind; we shall observe the vows together. I shall be of one mind, we shall observe the vows together shall be the SAMA,you the RIG; I shall be the Upper World, you the Earth;I shall be the SUKHILAM ,you the HOLDER – together we shall live, beget children, and other riches .come thou, O sweet- minded girl!”
“LAJJA HOMAM”
This shall comprise the bride’s own offering to the sacrificial fire. As she is forbidden to do it herself, her brother helps her. He gives her a handful of parched rice grains which shake hands to the bridegroom who on her behalf, feeds it into the fire. Through this food offering, the bride seeks a long life for her husband and propagation of the family.
Participation of the bride’s family members indicates the continence of links between the two families, after marriage, the couple circle around the fire, three times and the feeding of the fire with parched rice, is repeated thrice.

SHOWERING OF “AKSHADAI
Akshadai i.e., rice-drains coated with turmeric and saffron are showered on the couple, by elders and invites – as benediction.
“GRIHA PRAVESAM”
Taking with the fire from the Laaja Homam, the biride takes leaves of her home, and enters the new home of her i-laws.the Vedic hymns now sound like the mother’s words of advice to her daughter:” be the queen of your husband’s home. May your husband glorify your virtues; conduct yourself in such a way that you win your mother – in law’s love, and be in the good books of your sisters – in –law”.
“NALLUNGU”
The evening of the marriage day is the time to relax and play. The newly-wed wife calls her husband for play, inviting him through a song. Much to the merriment of one and all gathered. there follows a list of playful items: the bride anointing the groom’s feet with colour paste: fanning hi,, showing him a mirrior; breaking papads over each other’s head; wrenching thr betel pack from each other’s hands; rollong the coconut from one to another as in ball-play; and so on. During these items, the ladies sing song poking fun at the bridegroom and the in-laws.
These events bring out many qualities of the bride and the groom-sporting spirit kindness strength, co-operative nature etc.
THE NIGHT TIME HOMAM
THE JAYAATHI HOMAM –is performed to propitiate Ganghravas and other deities.
PRAVESA HOMAMN – is done to solemmnise the bride’s entry into the husband’s home. the sacrificial fire is brought along by the bride.
SESHA HOMAM – is fire oblation with the residual ghee, a little of which is sprinkled on the bride’s head four times.
THAAMBOOLAM AND BALA DHANAM
The girl’s brother gives the ceremonial first betel to the couple to chew; Certain other gifts are made to bless the couples with children and long life.
MANGALA ARTHI
A solution of lime and turmeric powder, and in colour, is prepared on a plate, and circled around and thrown away to ward off evil eye. This is done a number of times during the entire wedding ceremony.

   
         
           
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