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Colours of Life

Wedding Ceremonies
- By Suja .M

Marriage is a life changing occasion that is cherished for life. The explanations of the rites and rituals in a wedding as per the Vedas are as follows.

Vrutham

Vrutham is held either on the previous day or on the morning of the wedding. Here the groom and the bride (separately) invoke the blessing of their family deity and also their forefathers. This is to denote their entry into the stage of Grihasta (fit to start a family) from the previous single state. Their hands are purified with the tying of a twine that is smeared with turmeric. This practice was earlier done in their respective houses but now the practice is to have it in the marriage hall.

Janavasam - "maapillai azhaippu"

The groom would be seated on a horse-drawn chariot (or in some cases, beautifully adorned cars) as he makes a procession through the roads with his entourage. They then make their way to the temple where the groom - "maapillai" - is given a new set of traditional dhoti - "veshti" and shirt - to wear for the following nischayathartham ceremony. The reason for this ritual is from the practice of announcing in early days to all the villagers about the upcoming marriage.

Muhurtham

Muhurtham refers to the actual wedding ceremony itself. It typically occurs on the second day of a 2 or 3-day wedding ceremony and occurs generally early in the mornings depending on the priests' decree.
The muhurtham includes the "Kasi yaatrai", "maalai maatral", "oonjal ceremony" and the actual Muhurtham itself.

Kasi yaatrai

Refers to an age-old Brahmin ritual where the groom decides take up the spiritual pursuit. He would be blocked enrooted by the bride's father to return and take up "grahastham" or family life and that the bride will assist in his subsequent spiritual pursuit. For the Kaasi Yaathirai, the bride's father would have to buy (as in general practice) an Umbrella, Hand fan, Bhagwad Gita book, Sandals.
The groom will then agree and garlands will be exchanged by the bride and groom.They would then head to a swing (oonjal) in the hall. Respected womenfolk of the household will then perform short rituals with classical singing to ward off evil as the bride and groom are seated on the oonjal.

Kannigadhaanam

They then proceed to the podium in the hall where rites of the marriage - muhurtham - are performed. The bride is seated on her father's lap as kannigadhaanam follows and the father offers his daughter to be taken care of by the groom. As the priest chants the slogas, the groom ties a "thaali" or "thirumaangalyam" around the bride's neck. The groom ties one knot and other two knots are tied by the groom's elder or younger sister, as all the guests shower their blessings symbolized by rice grains that are distributed to all guests to shower onto the bride and groom.
This symbolizes the actual wedding and the newly-weds take their marriage vows in seven steps sapthapathi as they walk three rounds hand-in-hand around the holy fire.

Nalangu

Nalangu is a tradition that was incorporated to keep the mood light-hearted and fun for the newlyweds. Traditional games include the newly-weds trying to find a small object in a bowl and the person finding the object first is the winner. Other games include breaking papadums over each other's heads and so on.