Malayalee Wedding Ceremony Rituals
Malayalee Wedding Ceremony
Contrary to the perception of the 'big fat Indian wedding', which generally involve a series of customs and ceremonies, the marriage organized in a typical Malayalee style is very simple and brief. Although elaborate rituals are not followed at a typical Malayalee wedding, the ceremony is very impressive to look at. The simple Malayalee marriage is generally divided into three phases. During the pre-wedding days, the muhurtham and date for the engagement and wedding are figured out. On the engagement ceremony, the nishchaya thaamboolam are exchanged by the prospective bride and the groom's parents. You can also witness the exchange of engagement ring on the same day, at many Malayalee weddings.
The wedding ceremony is preceded by a ritual, wherein the bride and groom seek blessings from their elderly family members, by touching their feet. The custom paves the way for the nuptial knot, which is tied at the bride's ancestral home (preferably) or any venue, say, mandapam of a temple or the temple itself. Thewedding ceremony is followed by reception, traditional feast and grihapravesham. Overall, the typical Malayalee marriage ceremony is true delight for the eyes. In this section, we have elaborated the Malayalee pre-wedding, wedding and post-wedding rituals.
Malayalee Pre-Wedding Rituals
The Malayalees start the preparation of wedding, well before the ceremony. Few weeks (or even months) prior to the marriage, the date and muhurtham are finalized for both the engagement and wedding ceremonies. Thereafter, the families of the prospective bride and the groom await for the wedding day, with a lot of expectations and anxiety. The pre-wedding days are filled with enthusiasm and celebration in both the bride and the groom's home, which largely includes feasting. If you want to know more about Malayalee pre-marriage ceremonies, then check out the following lines.
Malayalee Pre Wedding Customs
Well before the wedding, the parents of the prospective bride and groom exchange horoscopes to check for compatibility of the couple, who are going to tie the nuptial knot. If the horoscopes match, an auspicious time, called muhurtham, is figured out by the family astrologer, for conducting the engagement as well as the wedding ceremony. The date for the wedding is fixed by consulting the astrologer.
Nischayam (The Engagement Ceremony)
Nischayam (the engagement ceremony) is traditionally organized at the ancestral house of the bride, to announce the confirmation of marriage, formally. The private affair is witnessed by the family members and close relatives. However, with the changing time, people resort to venue away from their homes, such as, banquet halls. These days, friends and faraway relatives are also invited to witness the occasion.
Traditionally, the nishchaya thaamboolam (the engagement thali) is exchanged by the parents of the bride and the groom, on the ceremony. In the present time, the engagement ring is also exchanged during nischayam, especially when the marriage is few months after the occasion. The nischayam ceremony is followed by a lavish feast at the bride's home or the venue, wherein the traditional Kerala dishes are served to the guests.
Traditional Feast And Visit To Temple
Traditional food is served to the guests at the bride’s house, a day before the wedding. The bride is made to sit facing the east. She takes a traditional five-course vegetarian meal with her family members. In some Malayalee communities, the bride visits a nearby temple, along with few family members, in order to offer prayers to the Almighty. After returning from the temple, the bride seeks blessings from her relatives, by touching their feet. A similar ritual is followed by the groom at his house, a day before the wedding.
Malayalee Wedding Rituals
Malayalee wedding is a very short and crisp ceremony, which is held in the morning. The most preferred location to conduct a typical Malayalee wedding is the maternal house of the bride. However, with the passing time, people are opting for a more convenient venue for both the families of the bride and the groom, say, the auditorium of a nearby temple or the temple itself. Whether it is a very lavish wedding, with a long list of guests to witness, or a simple one, the rituals followed by the Malayalees are generally the same. Given below is complete information on the wedding customs followed in a typical Malayalee wedding.
Malayalee Wedding Customs
Seek The Blessings
Before entering the venue to tie the wedding knot, the bride and the groom seek blessings from their elder ones, at their respective homes. Thereafter, the bride and the groom get ready for the mandapam/venue. Friends of the bride help her in dressing her up, for the nuptial knot. Typically, the bride wears a two-piece sari (known as 'set saree') for the wedding. However, she can also opt for any other sari as well. She is accessorized with jewelry (typically gold) and her braided hair is embellished with flower (generally jasmine). On the other hand, the groom is dressed up in traditional dhoti (mundu) and white or off-white silk shirt. Gold chains, gold bracelets and rings add to the appeal of his attire.
Welcoming The Bridegroom
After seeking blessings from their elder ones, the bride and the groom leave for the venue (where the wedding ceremony is held), from their respective homes. Traditionally, the family and friends from the bride's side reach the venue first, in order to welcome the groom and his acquaintance. Traditional drum (thavil) and nadaswaram (non-brass acoustic instrument) are played to welcome the groom's procession, which heads towards the venue.
At the doorstep of the venue, the bride's brother (father in some parts of Kerala) welcomes the groom by washing his feet with water. In return, the brother receives small gifts (gold chain, bracelet or money) from the groom. Thereafter, the groom is accompanied by two of his relatives, to the mandapam. The bride revolves three times around the mandapam and sits next to the bride, who is already present there.
The Nuptial Ceremony
The nuptial ceremony is often called veli. The priest conducts the marriage ceremony. In some parts of Kerala, the priest is replaced by the elderly family member of the bride or the groom. After taking rounds of the mandapam, the bride and the groom sit next to each other. Preferably, the bride is seated on the left hand side of the groom. At the muhurtham time, the groom ties the mangalsutra, (known as 'thaali' in Malayalam), around the neck of the bride. The priest hands over the garlands and bouquets to the bride and the groom, in order to exchange.
After exchanging the garlands, the bride's father does the kanyaadaan, by placing the hand of the bride over the groom's hand. After the kanyaadaan, the newly wed couple takes rounds of the mandapam, for three times. Thereafter, the groom appliesvermillion (sindooram) on the bride's her in exchange of which, she applies chandan on his forehead. Thereafter, the couple seeks blessings for their parents, by touching their feet. Soon after the wedding, a feast is organized by the bride's family, wherein traditional Kerala dishes are served to the guest.
Malayalee Post-Wedding Rituals
Malayalee post-wedding rituals are limited to grihapravesham and traditional feasting, which makes the entire ceremony a very brief one. The one-day-long wedding is also followed by feasting at the bride and thereafter, at the relatives' places. Brief though, it is very touching to see the bride enters her 'new home', prosper the groom and his family's life. In addition, the eyes are often filled with tears, when the bride departs from her maternal home. Check out more information on the Malayalee post-wedding rituals in the following lines.
Malayalee Post - Wedding Customs
Generally, the reception is organized by the groom's family, soon after the wedding. However, nowadays, due to convenience, the reception can be held few days after the wedding. Family, friends and faraway acquaintance join in the reception to wish and bless the newly wed couple.
After tying the nuptial knot, the newly wed couple head towards the home of the groom. There, they are welcomed by the parents and family members of the groom. The sister-in law or the maternal relative of the groom welcomes the bride, with aarti. Thereafter, she hands over the traditional deep to the bride, who enters her 'new home', formally. Soon after grihapravesham, the bride and the groom are offered a sweet mixture of banana and milk, by their elder ones.
Visit To The Bride's Place
A day after the wedding, the bride and the groom, along with a couple of relatives of the latter, visit the former's house. A lavish feast is organized at the bride's house, to serve the guests. This is followed by a series of visits to the relative's home (of both the bride and the groom), where they are served with lip-smacking feast.