We have heard of the Big Fat Indian Weddings everywhere. In contrast, the Malayalee weddings are short and simple. Rich in traditions and rituals, Malayalee Weddings start with finding the right Muhurtham. Once the horoscopes of bride and groom are matched, a auspicious day/date is set for other important rituals of the wedding. This is usually done by the Family Priest or Astrologer.
Post this there is the Engagement Ceremony, usually held at the bride's home. Though a small affair, almost all close family members/relatives are invited to bless the couple. This ceremony usually confirms the marriage. The couple exchange rings, and is followed by a lavish feast of traditional mouthwatering delicacies. Puja or visit to a temple is a must in every wedding. The family appeals to the Family Deity to bless them. This is usually done a day prior to the Wedding date. The bride has to sit facing the East and is served a five course vegetarian meal as everyone else. Post this the bride offers prayers to the Almighty and seeks blessings from elders. Similar ceremonies are held at the Groom's residence as well.
On the Wedding Day, before proceeding at the venue, the Bride and Groom seek blessings from all the elders present. Bride wears rich saree embossed in gold. Bride usually wears a two- piece saree known as the set saree.
Her hair is adorned with fresh jasmine flowers and wears a lot of gold jewellery. The groom on the other hand is dressed in a simple dhoti and a plain white silk shirt. Malayalee grooms also wear a lot of gold jewellery like rings, bracelets and chains.
The groom is welcomed by the bride’s family to the beats of traditional music. The music is played as a gesture of welcoming the groom and his family. The bride’s brother welcomes the groom by washing his feet at the doorstep. The groom responds to this gesture by gifting the brother something usually made of gold. Thereafter the groom proceeds to the 'mandap' accompanied by his relatives. He sits next to his bride in the mandap who is already present there after making three rounds around the mandap.
The wedding ceremony is called Veil. This is conducted by the priest. The groom ties a Mangalsutra known as “thaali” in Malayalam round the bride’s neck during the muhurtham. The couple then exchanges garlands and this ritual is followed by Kanyadaan.
Kanyadaan is usually done by the Bride’s father. The Father- of- the- bride places the bride’s hand over the groom’s hand symbolically suggesting that he hands over the responsibility of his daughter to the Groom.
The couple then circles the mandap thrice and the groom then applies 'vermillion' also called 'Sindoor' on the bride’s forehead at the parting of her hair. The bride then applies sandalwood paste on the groom’s forehead and the couple seek blessing from their parents.
The Wedding Ceremony is followed by lavish meal hosted by the Brides family. Post Wedding Rituals are usually a Reception hosted by the Grooms Family. This function is usually done to formally introduce the Bride to the extended family.
The bride is welcomed by the maternal sister of the groom. This is usually called Grihapravesham. She welcomes her with an aarti performed using a traditional lamp which she then hands over to the bride. The bride walks into her new house holding the burning lamp in her hand. The bride and groom are then offered a mixture of sweetened milk and banana.
Visiting the bride’s home: A day after the wedding the bride and the groom along with a few of the groom’s relatives, visit the bride’s home. A lavish feast is arranged for them. The bride and the groom then pay a visit to both their close relatives to formally introduce each other.