Wedding is the strongest social bond, which not only unites two people but also two families. In India, marriage is characterized by several rituals and ceremonies. Bride and bridegroom promise to be with each other in all the circumstances and live in harmony for the entire life.
Wedding in south India is performed with several rituals and customs. The venue is beautifully decorated, the entrance is enhanced with full-grown plantain trees, festoons overhead of mango leaves & screw-pine petals and attractive designs of rangoli. The whole ambiance is filled with South Indian Shehnai. The clothes of relatives and friends of bride and bride-groom are tailored in south Indian style. Women are dressed in bright-colored bordered sari and men wear kurta and dhoti.
In the evening, prior to the main wedding day, bridegroom moves towards the wedding venue in a colorful flower-adorned ride. He is accompanied by close relatives and friends. The bridegroom is escorted to the marriage Mandapam by bride's parents, followed by Nadaswaram band. The ceremony begins with pleasing the god Ganapati and other important deities. They make offerings and seek his blessings. A leaf-laden branch of holy Pipal tree is set up, which is washed by 5 married women and then rituals are performed here.
After the prayers are over, dhoti and sari are presented to the espousing couple. This ritual is performed to satisfy the 9 astral planets, ruling over human destiny. The opening marriage ceremony begins with Vratham, performed separately by groom and the bride. A holy thread, “Kappu” is tied on the wrist of bride, which protects her from evil spirits. For bridegroom Vratham means invocations involving the Gods like Indra, Chandra, Soma and Agni.
Next bride's father and the bridegroom's father have the final betrothal ceremony, facing to each other. priest chants the hymns in which he includes the names of bride, bridegroom and their generations of ancestors. The bride and bridegroom are then lifted to the shoulders of their uncles and both of them exchange the garlands.
The couple is seated on a swing. Water and lighted lamps are placed around the swing to keep away the evil spirits and ghosts. They rock forth and back and women sing folk songs to praise the marrying couple. They are offered a sweet concoction of milk, sugar and bananas to eat.
Sowing Pallikai Seeds
In this ceremony nine kinds of soaked cereals seeds are sowed in the earthen pots. After the marriage ceremony, the sprouted seedlings are released in holy river. The ritual is performed to seek blessings of Ashtadikh Paalaks (eight direction quartered guardian angels) for successful and peaceful life ahead.
Ceremony continues with tying of three knots, the first is tied by bridegroom and other two by his sister, which signifies that bride is now an important family member of her in-laws. They take circles of Agni, the fire God and please it with ghee and twinge of nine types of trees. Bridegroom ties a sacred thread around the neck of the girl which symbolizes that she is associated with him for the rest of her life. It is lovely to see the bridegroom sitting on her father's laps and then is finally gifted to the bridegroom.