Hindu Marriage Ceremony in Kerala
Guide to Hindu weddings in Kerala
Hindu Marriage in Kerala
In Hindu marriages the horoscope is the cardinal player in decision making. Nakshatra Porutham (matching of stars as per the horoscopes of the boy and girl) is essential to a marriage. An astrologer confirms the matching of both the horoscopes. Stars matching confirmation is the first step of Hindu marriage. After the stars matching is confirmed, the elder members of the boy formally approach the family of the girl. The broker who is the bridge between the two families approaches the girl’s family, equipped with complete details about the boy, his education and family details including financial status details. If the broker gets the node from the girl’s family, he reports back to the family of the boy. The elders of the boy’s family go to the house of girl to see her. If they are satisfied over the girl and the family, the boy is sent along with his friends to see the girl and ascertain the suitability. If the boy approves the girl, the family of the girl is requested to visit the house of boy. Their visit follows. If they are willing for wedlock relation, the next step is of fixing a date for visiting girl’s house by close relatives and neighbours of the boy. This is called Virunnu. On this visit they fix up a day with the girls family for betrothal which is Jathakam Vangal in local parlance.
For betrothal several dozen relatives and friends and neighbours go the house of the girl. If Mothiram Maral (exchange of ring) between the boy and the girl as token of marriage fixation) has been agreed upon, the groom, his father and mother will also accompany others. (In many cases the ring is exchanged during marriage). The important function during the betrothal is the receiving of girl’s horoscope. The horoscope is accepted by the elder uncle (mother’s brother) from the father of the girl. The horoscope is handed over standing before a Nilavilakku (traditional Kerala oil lamp made of bell metal) in which at least 6 cotton wicks are lighted and Nirapara (a full measure of paddy) with flowering coconut bunch on, betel leaves, areca nut and burning incense sticks. The receiver stands facing east; and the giver stands facing west. If ring exchange has been agreed upon during this function, the boy and girl exchange it with the initiation by the boy. Of late, Valayidal practice in the middle, upper class and families have started. Valayidal is that one or two gold bungle is put on the hand of the girl by her would-be mother-in-law. This function is held before noon during an auspicious time set by an astrologer. Thereafter sumptuous food is served to all. In many cases the day of marriage will be agreed upon this day, if not already agreed upon earlier.
The day, date and Muhoortham (auspicious time for Thalikettu – tying of nuptial knot – will be prescribed by an astrologer. A slip containing these details will be given to the family of the would-be bride by one or two elder members from the family of the would-be groom few days before the marriage. This is in spite of having intimated them these details earlier. Because it a custom.
On the marriage day the girl visits a local temple dear to her and gives Vazhipad (offering) and Nirmala (garland made of Thulasi – holy basil (Ocimum sanctum)) with a pray for successful married life.
On marriage day the groom and the party numbering 200 to 1000 arrive at the marriage venue before the Muhoortham. The elder brother of the bride receives the prospective brother-in-law with a bouquet by holding on the right hand of the groom by his right hand. The prospective mother-in-law of the groom showers raw-rice mixed with Thulasi leaves while a Nilavilaku is held by the wife of the elder brother of the bride’s father. It is her right to do so. All the three then lead the groom to the Kalyana Mandapam (a raised marriage platform) decorated with flowers and request him to sit in right side chair facing east. In front of the two chairs in the Mandapam there will be a Nirapara with flowering coconut bunch on, three traditional Kerala Nilavilakku, betel nut, areca-nut, tender coconut;, burning incense sticks, camphor, sandal paste, a photo of a god or goddess or a spiritual leader plus a priest to conduct the marriage rituals. Soon the bride worn by gold ornaments received as dowry from her parents and the costly Kalyana Saree (wedding saree) brought and presented by the elder sister of the boy (along with the Kalyana Saree complete dress for at-least one year’s use, cosmetics and footwear are brought along with the Wedding Saree. The elder sister who brought and presented to the girl is usually come along with 20 to 25 others) is brought to the Mandapam, holding a banana filled Thalam (auspicious wick-light in half portion of coconut placed in a circular brass or steel vessel) led by the elder and other sisters and close related females not numbering more than 10. The bride and the small entourage encircle the Mandapam 3 times and the bride is seated left to the groom. The priest meanwhile will have conducted the Pooja (rites). The priest, in the Muhoortham ,hands over to the groom the Thalimala (necklace with gold pendant) entrusted to him by the brother-in-law of the groom as soon as they reached the venue with a direction to tie around the neck of the girl, ensuring Thali (gold pendant) on the Mala (necklace) to be in the middle of chest. The elder sister of the groom assists to properly lock the Thalimala. During the Thalikettu (tying of naptial knot) Panchavadyam (five types of Kerala classical music) gets performed. The next procedure is garlanding each other, the bride garlands first. Then the father of the bride is directed by the Priest to get hold of the hand of the daughter and entrust it in the right hand of the groom and the father has to hold their right hands with both of his hands as right hand above and left hand lower the couple’s hands for a while. During this time the Priest recite some marriage-connected verses from Vedas for the happy and long prosperous wedded life. The father of the girl is required to re-recite the verses. After this the groom holding the right hand of the bride in his right hand is required to encircle the Mandapam three times. With this, the ceremony is over. As thanks giving bride and groom separately give Dhakshina (token amount in reverence) to the Poojari (priest) in betel leaves. The amount of Dhakshina should be entrusted to the couple by their respective brother-in-laws as a custom.
A full course sumptuous meal is served to all present thereafter.
After the meal is over, the groom and party proceed to his house with company of the bride. The departure from here is at a Muhoortham. At the groom’s house both bride and groom are received on similar lines as was witnessed at bride’s house. Here the part played by the brother-in-law at the bride’s house will be missing. The bride has to enter the house of groom by holding a Nilavilakku and she has to put her right leg first into the house.
Soon a group of people consisting relatives, neighbours and friends numbering 100 to 500 from bride’s family end come to the groom’s house for bringing back the couple. They will be served with a posh tea-party. To the return journey the bride and groom change their dress and wear a new set.
The next day the groom accompanied by a brother of bride visits his house and returns same day. He will remain 4 to 5 days at bridal house and thereafter the couple returns to his house.
Dowry is rampant amongst all the religions and all sections of society in Kerala. Gold ornaments are s major part of dowry: every class of society try to give a large quantity of gold to their daughter as a dowry. Its also a prestige issue now a days to give more gold ornaments. Other than that car, and home appliances are also common forms of dowry.