Thursday, 30 May 2013

Kerala Hindu Marriage Rituals

Kerala Hindu wedding is distinct from other forms of Indian weddings because of its simplicity and short time duration. But still you can categorize Kerala Hindu wedding into pre-wedding, wedding day as well as post-wedding customs.

Pre wedding Customs

Pre-wedding customs are significant to Kerala wedding just like other Indian wedding rituals as they deal with the introduction of new relationship between the bride and groom along with their family members. The important pre-wedding customs in Malayalee wedding include Muhurtham, Nischayam and the Traditional Feast. 


It is a ritual to match the horoscopes of the probable wedding couple before their marriage in order to assess their compatibility with each other. And when the horoscope is matched,the parents of the prospective bride and groom settle on an auspicious time called 'Muhurtham' to carry out the engagement and wedding ceremonial under the supervision of an astrologer.
Nischayam (Engagement)

All the family members, relatives and close friends of bride and groom gather for the engagement ceremony. Bride and groom exchange rings with ach other.It is considered as a mutual binding which is unbreakable.It is generally observed in bride’s ancestral home or in a nearby temple. Nowadays banquet halls are arranged for the purpose of engagement.The marriage date is announced  before all the people gathered. A traditional feast is served to all the people.

The day before the marriage, the bride and the groom conduct a small party for their friends and relatives at their respective homes. Nowadays in most of the houses, a few relatives of the groom arrive at the brides residence on the previous day of the marriage to give the wedding sari and the accessories. The groom visits any temple either on the eve of the wedding or on the morning of the wedding. The 'thaali' gets blessed by the priest. The bride also visits a temple of her choice to seek God's blessings.

This is the ceremony by which the bride receives blessings from all elders in the family and other elder relatives.This ceremony is carried out just before the bride gets  ready for marriage.

Wedding day Ceremonies
The key traditional Kerala marriage rituals involve
  • Nirapara 
  • Nilavilakku 
  • Thalikettu 
  • Pudava koda 
Nirapara and Nilavilakku
Nirapara means a "filled measure". Para is the largest measure, a wooden container, used traditionally to measure paddy. This measure would be heaped up with paddy and a bunch of coconut tree flowers would be inserted into the heap. The large measure and heaped paddy stand for prosperity.
Nilavilakku is a large brass lamp on a stand that has a cup at the top. The cup is filled with oil and wicks are placed in it with one edge projecting out of the cup. This projecting end is lighted and it would continue to burn by drawing the oil. The lighted lamp represents agni - the god of fire - who should witness all auspicious occasions.

In Hindu marriages, the marriage is conducted either from the bride's home or from an auditorium or from bride’s nearby temple. Today most people prefer to conduct the marriage from auditoriums or temples. On the wedding day, the bride's family welcomes the groom who is accompanied by the 'Nadaswaram'. It is a musical instrument and is played throughout the marriage ceremony.  A special welcome is given by the bride's brother to the groom by washing his feet with water. He is then escorted to the stage called as the 'mandapam'. There will be young girls to accompany him till the mandapam. These girls will be holding oil lamp, a plate containing flowers etc. The 'Mandapam' is where the marriage takes place and it is decorated with flowers, small plantain trees etc. Now the bride also arrives escorted by the same girls. She wears a splendid silk saree. At the auspicious time called as the 'Muhurtham' the groom ties the thaali. Then garlands and flower bouquets are exchanged. The family members and friends wish them and bless the couples. 
The ceremony is followed with a traditional vegetarian feast named ‘Sadya’.


Pudava Koda

Pudava means a cloth that Kerala women wore traditionally. A ‘pudava’ was traditionally gifted to the bride by the family members of the groom.Nowdays,it is replaced by a silk saree which is wore by the bride just after marriage.She changes into this saree from the wedding venue itself.

Post Marriage Ceremonies
After marriage, Bride and groom goes to Groom’s home where Grihapravesham of the bride takes place and Traditional Feast is organized for the guests at the reception.
Grihapravesham is the custom when the bride is cordially welcomed at the house of the groom by his family members and relatives. As soon as the bride arrives, her mother-in-law carries on ‘aarti’ at the entrance of the house. The newly wed couple is offered sweet mixture of banana and milk by the elderly family members as a part of Malayalee custom.
Traditional Feast

Finally is the time for traditional feast or reception organized by the groom’s family members. The bride is formally introduced to all the relatives and the friends of the groom as well as his family. And the guests bless the newly wedded couple, congratulate the groom’s family and cherish the traditional wedding cuisines of Kerala.
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  4. Good piece of info on Kerala marriages.
    Every Indian state has its own rituals connected to marriage.

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