A Tamil wedding is held for 2 days. This is an occasion when all the near and dear ones come together to celebrate. The Tamil community follows a simple living and it is reflected in their rites and rituals as well. As per the Tamilian calendar, a wedding cannot be held from the dates starting with (July 15th to August 15th), (September 15th to October 15th) and (December 15th to January 15th). The Tamilians also avoid Tuesdays and Saturdays, as they not considered auspicious.
After the finalization of the match takes place, the pundit selects the auspicious day when the marriage can be held. On this day, a taambalam (a brass or bronze plate) filled with yellow bananas, coconuts along with betel leaf is placed on the dais where the function is to take place. The girl is gifted a kancheepuram (silk) sari. The boy is given new clothes or cash by the respective in-laws.
Paalikali Thalippu/ Karappu (Filling the mud pots with cereals)
This is done by the girl’s family. 7 clay pots are decorated with paste of sandalwood and some kumkum powder. Curds are then filled along with nine different types of food grains which are referred to as Nava Dhaanyam (implying nine grains). On the next day, they are then immersed in the pond with the thought that the fish would eat the grains which would have sprouted by then. This is done so that the couple is blessed.
Bathing the Woman and Man with perfumed oils
This ritual takes place in the respective houses. Scented oils are applied and both the bride and bridegroom are encouraged to remain at their respective homes till the wedding takes place.
Welcoming the Bridegroom and his family
The groom’s family arrives one day in advance of the marriage day. They are welcomed with pomp, splendor and music with offerings of betel-leaf, fruits, flowers and sweets.
The 2 musical instruments which hold pride of place in a Tamil wedding are the Melam and the Naathaswaram which continue to play in the background.
Vritham (Tying the holy thread)
The sacred thread is tied around the bride’s wrist. The groom is meanwhile getting ready for the other marriage rituals.
Jaanavaasam (Welcoming of the bridegroom)
The bridegroom is welcomed inside the marriage venue. Musical instruments are played, there is dance and music. The bride’s relatives welcome the groom and his family.
Nicchiyadharatham (Engagement function)
Once the Ganesha puja is performed, the bride is applied a chandan and kumkum tilak. She wears the new sari given by the bridegroom’s family. She fills the pallu of her saree with the betel leaves, betel nut (supari), kumkum, coconut and flowers.
Rituals on the Wedding Day
The ceremonial bathing takes place at early hours of the dawn on the marriage day. The aarti is done by the sumangalis of the house.
Praying to Gauri
After taking bath and dressing up, the bride offers her prayer to Gauriamma (Goddess Gauri) to grant both her and her husband peace and prosperity.
The bridegroom pretends to go on yatra. He is given a walking stick and other simple necessities for proceeding on the yatra. The bride’s father intervenes and then requests the groom to get married to his daughter.
The bride’s mother washes the bridegroom’s feet. The bride is taken to the marriage dais by her maternal uncle.
Exchanging of garlands
The bride and bridegroom exchange garlands thrice. Colored rice balls are thrown in all the four directions to ward off any evil spirits. They are made to sit on the oonjal (swing) which is decorated with flowers.
The bride comes adorned in her traditional saree. The groom ties the mangalsootra (yellow sacred thread) around the neck of the bride. The marriage has culminated. The couple is escorted to the venue and they are shown the polestar and the Arundhati star. They are offered a sweet drink (made of jaggery, black pepper and cardamom in water).