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The Tamils are friendly people and the customs that are followed in the marriage is more focused on easing the comfort of the bride and her groom and to break the ice between them. This is very important considering the fact that in olden days, there used to be a majority of arranged marriages and the girl and the boy would have hardly even seen each other’s face.
Fixing the Marriage
The parents of the bride and the groom look at different criteria including the social status, financial status, horoscope matching and information about the close families before they confirm on the alliance between their children. Once this is done, they exchange big plates that hold the agreement, flowers, fruits, and supari and this is called the opputhamboolam, a namesake for actually accepting each other’s families.
Pot Decoration / Sumangali Prarthanai
There are 5 married women preferably experienced who decorate 5 pots and fill them with navadanya, curd and other auspicious things and then float them in the water to seek the blessings of the panchaboothas. The Sumangali Prarthanai is also conducted at the home of the bride where old and married women are invited to bless the girl with a long life with her husband. These sumangalis are given gifts and other items like saree, flowers, fruits etc.
There are a lot of poojas that are conducted that include the Ganapathi pooja, navaragaha pooja, vrathams and other rituals that are done before the marriage. Most of these rituals have as a common agenda the offering of prayers to God and to thank him for the wonderful blessing and to bless the soon to be married couple with a lot of health, wealth and prosperity.
Janavasam and Nichiyadartham
This is the ritual where the bridegroom comes to the marriage hall – this is the south Indian equivalent of the Baarat. The bridegroom is welcomed into the marriage hall with a lot of happiness and fun and the bride’s mother gives some special attention and welcome to her future son-in-law.
The Nichiyadartham ceremony is conducted on the day just before the marriage, where the elders on both sides exchange gifts including dress and jewelry and accept to get the bride and the groom married. The couple gets dress materials from each other’s families which they wear at the Nichiyadartham.
Rituals Performed in Tamil Wedding
After all the ceremonies are over the previous night, the bride and the groom are woken up early in the morning for the ceremonial bath and they are made to get ready and dress up for the most important occasion of their lives. Then, the bridegroom comes out to the hall and takes his place on the stage. The bride does not join him until later. The groom sits in front of the holy fire and starts the chanting of the prayers and verses.
The groom pretends to walk out of the marriage life and get into sanyasa and he goes out of the marriage hall with an umbrella in his hand. The bride’s parents and her siblings go behind him and request him to not ditch the bride and bring him back and make him sit next to the bride. There are many jokes that are said and of late since most couples are waiting for the minute they tie the holy knot, the elders make royal fun of them during this episode.
Tying the Thaali and Garlanding
The most important event is the tying the mangalyam on the neck of the bride. The mangalyam or the thaali is turmeric attached to a yellow thread and this is taken around the relatives and the people who have come for the marriage in an effort to seek their blessings. The groom then ties the thread around the bride’s neck at the auspicious moment and they are proclaimed man and wife. The music instruments play the mangalavadiyam – the nadaswaram and Mridangam make the entire marriage a very celestial experience.
Spotting Arundadhi and the Toe Ring
The next important event is the wearing of the toe ring. After tying the thaali, the bride and the groom are taken outside and the try to spot the star Arundadhi who was actually a woman who was a very pious woman who considered her husband to be the ultimate god. The bridegroom then puts the toe ring on the toe of his bride. The thaali, the sindoor and the toe ring complete the transformation of the bride to the wife and the marriage comes to a beautiful finish.