Weddings are an integral part of Indian culture. And every state you cross, the feel and the vibe of these ceremonies change. While North Indian weddings are extravagant and pompous, South Indian Weddings are simple and elegant. Tamil matrimony or Kalyanam is high on following customs, performing all rituals with perfection. If the bride or groom belongs to a Tamil brahmin family, the rituals and customs take precedence over anything else. No matter what the ceremony, Tamil weddings are special because of their beauty and an in-depth meaning attached to all their customs that makes it an immersive experience. Some families, who still prefer marrying within their own community, resort to Tamil matrimony sites.
Within Tamil weddings, as people are inching towards practicality and modernity, some customs vary from family to family, depending on their beliefs. But there are some rituals, which are listed below, that are a must-do, without which Tamil marriages will be deemed incomplete.
Pandh Kaal Muhurtham: Majorly a Tamil brahmin ritual, but mostly followed by all Tamil families, this ritual entails erecting a wooden pole and decorated banana trees outside the house to announce a wedding in the house. Done a day before the wedding, this is observed by both – the Tamil groom, and the Tamil bride families, that get together to pray for an uninterrupted and blessed wedding.
Sumangali Prarthanai: This requires an odd number of married women to dress up in their traditional Madisar saree and bless the bride-to-be for a happy life ahead. These Sumangalis, or married women are then treated to a lavish traditional lunch, ideally served on banana leaves.
Pallikal Thellichal: A thoughtful ceremony executed in an eye-pleasing way, earthen pots are decorated with sandalwood and vermillion by married women. Nine types of grains are placed inside each of these pots mixed with curd. These pots are then immersed in water, offering the mixture as food for the fishes, who are believed to bring good luck.
A lot of these rituals are performed by married women as a way to pass on the wisdom of a marriage down to the new bride.
Naandi Shraddham: This ceremony is to honour the deceased ancestors of both families. A group of priests are invited for a hearty traditional meal, after which they bless the couple for a wholesome and prosperous life.
Kashi Yatra: More relevant with the Tamil brahmins, kashi yatra tradition is a rather fun affair amidst all other serious ceremonies. On the morning of the wedding day, the Tamil groom pretends to leave the marriage hall to submit himself to the service of god, majorly to tease the bride’s family. At this point, the bride’s father comes into the picture and convinces the groom to accept his daughter as his life partner. The groom finally agrees and comes back to the marriage hall to commence the Tamil wedding ceremonies.
Nishchayathram: An official engagement ceremony, this starts with the bride’s family worshiping Lord Ganesha. Both families then bestow the bride and groom with gifts and new clothes. Once the exchange is complete, both the bride and the groom must change in these new clothes. And if the families permit, this is the time when they also exchange rings.
For the final wedding, the groom dresses up in a veshti, which is draped as lowers in form of a Lungi or a Dhoti. This is accompanied by an angvastram, a piece of cloth worn around the neck. Ideally, these are made of silk. For the Bride, wearing an authentic Kanjivaram is essential, which is often accentuated by heavy jewellery, turning into a goddess herself.