In India marriages are based on common religious percepts but they are different for different castes and communities throughout the country. We tell you all about Iyer weddings and what makes them special.
Vang Nischayam – This is the first ceremony in an Iyer wedding wherein, a formal marriage proposal is confirmed after a small pooja and exchange of Coconut, betel leaf and arecanut before elderly people of both families. Post this, the Lagna Patrika, a contract by both parents about the marriage is read out. This is a formal engagement ceremony.
Receiving of the Groom – This is an age old tradition, where the bride’s parents welcome the groom’s side at the boundary of the village with coconuts and Nadaswaram (traditional wind instrument) and take them to the venue. However, now with changing times, the groom’s family is welcomed by the bride’s family at the wedding hall itself.
Kappukettal & Vratham – The marriage ceremony commences with the vratham that is performed separately by the bride and the groom. The bride ties the kappu or the holy thread around her wrists to ward off evil spirits. While for the groom it starts with invocations involving the Gods. He prepares himself for the new phase of life as a homemaker. His days of being a bachelor are over and the acceptance of this is the essence of the ceremony. Along with the ceremony, rituals are performed to protect the newlyweds from all kinds of evils. Scared yellow thread is tied on their wrists as a symbol of purity. The ‘palika’ ceremony (sprinkling of nine varieties of grains) follows suit for the prosperity of the couple.
Kashi Yatra – This is an important ceremony in an Iyer matrimony, where the groom is dressed in a “Panchakatcham” veshti, a traditional dress of the Iyers and he sets off on a mock pilgrimage holding an umbrella, a fan, walking stick, and a towel with rice and pulses. He shows that he wants to pursue his religious studies and renounce worldly pursuits. However, the groom’s father stops him and requests him to get married, advocating about the superiority of married life to an ascetic life. The groom agrees and returns to the mandapam.
Maalai Maatral – After the groom gets back, the “Maalai Maatral or exchanging of garlands takes place. The bride and the groom try to garland each other three times and every time the other party dodges. As per the shastras, the exchange of garlands symbolizes the unification of two souls.
KanyaDhanam – In this ceremony the bride is made to sit on the father’s lap and given away as a gift to the groom. Some mantras are chanted during this ceremony to protect the bride and the groom assures the father that he will look after his daughter in joy and sorrow, in this life and the life after.
Mangalya Dharanam– In this holy ceremony, the Mangal Sutra is tied around the bride’s neck at an auspicious time as a symbol of a married woman.
Saptha Padhi – In this ceremony, the couple walks the sacred seven steps around the holy fire and only after this is the marriage complete and with each step they take a vow.
Simple and ritualistic, Iyer matrimony is all about traditions and customs that are depicted in the most elegant manner.