By Namrata Arora Last Updated:
Tamilians are known for their simplicity and elegance even if it is something as big and extravagant as a wedding. Having attended numerous South Indians weddings and a bestie from this part of the globe makes me vouch for this all the more.
Even though Tamil weddings are not very extravagant as compared to other Northern communities like Punjabis, yet they are lavish when it comes to following traditions. Tamilians give a lot of priority to their rituals and traditions and the right manner in which the rituals should be performed. If you haven’t attended a South Indian wedding yet, here are the beautiful ceremonies and sacred rituals that take place in a Tamil wedding.
Here are the 6 pre-wedding rituals that take before the wedding.
The wedding functions in a Tamil household begin with this ritual which is held a day before the wedding. In this, both the families offer their prayers to God for a peaceful, joyous and uninterrupted wedding.
The term Sumangali refers to women who are blessed with a harmonious and prosperous married life. In this ritual, a pooja is conducted and prayers are offered to Sumangalis and the bride-to-be too seeks their blessings for a blissful married life ahead.
All Sumangalis are required to wear a traditional nine-yards saree or Madisar as it is traditionally called, for this pooja. The number of Sumangalis invited for the Pooja are always in odd numbers like 3, 5, 7 and 9. After the pooja is concluded, Sumangalis are treated with an authentic South Indian feast served on a banana leaf.
In this, ceremony, 9 types of grains along with curd are mixed and filled into 7 earthen pots decorated with sandalwood. These pots are later immersed in the water to feed the fishes. Since this ritual includes feeding the fishes, it is considered auspicious for the couple's journey ahead.
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In this ritual, the bride and the groom's families pray to the souls of their ancestors. 10 Brahmins or less are invited for an authentic South Indian feast by both the set of families. Fruits, coconut, flowers, paan supari, sweets and veshti angavastram (traditional clothes) and offered to the Brahmins and they are requested to bless the couple.
This ritual begins with a Ganesh puja performed by the bride’s family. The groom’s family then gives the bride a new saree, jewellery and gifts and the bride's family gifts the groom new set of clothes. The bride and the groom then change into the new dress gifted by each other's family.
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Then, the groom's sister applies kumkum and chandan tilak on the brides's forehead while the bride's brother applies it for the groom. The bride's brother offers a garland of flowers to the groom while the groom's sister does the same for the bride. The bride and the groom then exchange rings in the presence of family members and friends.
Lagna Pathirikai in Tamil translates to a wedding invitation. After the engagement ceremony, the wedding date is officially announced in fron of the guests by the priest.
Here are 9 wedding rituals and traditions that are followed in a Tamil weddin.g.
This ritual takes place on the dawn of the wedding day in the bride and groom's houses respectively. Haldi, kumkum and some oil is applied on the bride and the groom before they take a purifying bath and get ready for the wedding.
Amongst all the traditons and customs, this is one ritual which is only perfromed by the bride on her wedding day. Once the bride is ready, she offers prayers to Goddess Gauri who is considered a symbol of purity.
In this ritual, the groom pretends that he does not want to marry, and is going away a holy pilgrimage to Kashi. He is given a walking stick and a few bare essentials like an unbrella, slippers etc. for his journey. At this time, the bride’s father stops him and tries to persuade him towards married life, and offers to have his daughter married to him. The groom then agrees and is taken to the mandap.
As a part of this ritual, the bride’s mother washes groom’s feet with water, chandan and kumkum. After which the bride is called into the mandap. (In certain customs it is the mother of the groom who washes his feet).
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The bride and the groom exchange flower garlands three times to begin their holy union.
In this ritual, married ladies of the family offer some milk and banana to the bride and groom while they are seated on a swing. Rice balls are thrown around them as a symbol to ward fof evil.
This ritual is similar to the kanyadan ceremony in the North. Here, the bride’s father hands over his daughter to the groom for eternity. And, the groom gives assurance to her parents that he will take care of the bride always.
One heartwarming ritual is when the bride sits on her father lap when the father is giving away his daughter. This ritual symbolises a father is giving his baby daughter who played in his lap, and seeking teh groom's promise that he will always take care of her.
With this, all the wedding rituals come to an end. The groom applies kumkum/sindoor on the bride’s hair parting and ties a Thaali (translates to mangalsutra) around her neck.
The bride and the groom take seven sacred rounds around the fire in this ritual known as the Saptapadi. There is also another ritual in which the groom holds the left toe of the bride and helps her to tread on a grindstone kept near the ritual fire. This symbolises their holy union, which will be as solid as a rock. This grindstone is compared to the entrance of her new home and everytime she steps out, it will remind her of her responsibilities towards her new family.
The wedding is followed by 3 more functions.
This is the first post-wedding ritual where both families give each other gifts as a token of love and appreciation. The bride then leaves her parental home and sets journey to her new home with her husband.
This is the time when the bride and groom reach the groom’s house. Groom’s mother welcomes the couple by performing a small aarti. It is similar to the Grihapravesh rituals that happen in the North Indian wedding ceremonies.
In this, the groom’s real sister gifts her sister-in-law with a meaningful present and then the couple sit down to enjoy fun wedding games. In some communities, this ritual is also known as Nalanga and takes place right after the wedding. In earlier times, this ritual was considered as an ice-breaking session between the brider and the groom.
These are the usual ceremonies that are part of the most Tamil weddings, however different Tamilian communities might also follow some different rituals and customs.