The Keralite or Malayalee wedding truly reflects the beauty and simplicity of the great state of Kerala and its good people. The Keralite wedding is special and interesting for it’s simple and fuss free rituals. The Keralite wedding isn’t long drawn out however its simple rituals are deeply symbolic. In most cases the wedding rituals take place in the maternal home of the bride itself however in contemporary times, more and more Keralites are opting for commercial wedding venues that are able to accommodate a large number of guests. No matter the scale of the wedding; lavish or low key, the rituals are pretty much the same. It is often said that the rituals are so simple and precise that if one arrives late to the wedding ceremony, he or she may actually miss out on an opportunity to witness the short and simple rituals. Read further to know more.
Generally a Malayalee wedding date is fixed after consultations with an astrologer. Often times the bride and the groom’s horoscopes are also matched by the very same astrologer. This tradition is no different than Hindu traditions practiced anywhere else in India. This practice is commonly known as the Muhurtham ritual or ceremony in Kerala.
Once the wedding date is set, the bride and the groom’s respective family proactively announces the impending nuptials to friends and family. This is known as the Nishchayam ritual which is considered an engagement ceremony. Traditionally an engagement would mean exchanging of rings however Keralites leave the exchange of rings for the wedding day itself in most cases. It is interesting to note that in most cases, the bride and the groom do not take part in the Nishchayam ritual.
Pre Wedding Traditional Feast for the Bride
On the day before the wedding, the bride and her family gather together for an elaborate feast. The bride is generally made to sit facing the east while she eats a traditional five course vegetarian meal joined by the rest of her family. On this special occasion, the bride is often lavished with love and affection by her family members. Symbolically, this is a sort of farewell meal for the bride and the bride’s parents often take pains to make this feast a memorable one. It is not uncommon to see the bride and her loved ones overcome with emotion on this day.
Malayalee Wedding Rituals
On the day of the wedding, the bride and the groom seek the blessings of their elders in their respective family and head out for the wedding venue. As mentioned earlier, the wedding rituals often take place at the brides house however if a wedding venue is decided upon, it is customary for the bride and her family to reach first to welcome the groom and his family. Soon after this the Madhuparkam ceremony commences.
The Malayalee couple to be married often follows a dress code on their wedding day that is quite unique when compared to Hindu weddings in other parts of India. The bride wears a traditional two piece saree known as the mundu however it is not completely uncommon for contemporary brides to opt for a designer wedding saree instead. Traditionally the groom wears a white silk shirt and dhoti however many grooms opt for the contemporary tuxedo suit instead or a kurta pyjama ensemble. As a part of the welcoming ritual, the bride’s father often washes the feet of the groom, the groom is the one who presents the wedding saree of the bride. Soon after this the Veli ceremony begins.
The wedding rituals are known as the Veli ceremony. This ceremony takes place around the holy fire. The bride and the groom walk around in circles around the holy fire three times after which the groom ties a yellow thread around the neck of the bride which is known as the Taali. The Taali is the equivalent to the mangalsutra that most Indians would recognize. This ceremony is followed by the Penkoda which is also known as the Kanyaadanam. The Kanyaadanam is a symbolic act where the father puts his daughter’s hands in the hands of the groom. This gesture symbolizes handing over the duties of a father to the son in law.
After the Veli and Kanyaadanam rituals, the Sparsham ceremony takes place. During the course of this ceremony the groom sits with his back facing his bride and tilts his head backwards so that his head touches her forehead. This gesture is accompanied by chanting of mantras and after a while the bride throws rice in to the holy fire. Soon after this the groom takes his brides feet and places them on a grinding stone. This is symbolic for the breaking of old ties and the forging of new relationships. Soon after this the groom moves the brides feet forward seven times which symbolizes the bride’s entry in to a new life and new family.
This is the last of the wedding rituals which is followed by a grand vegetarian feast and a Grihapravesh for the bride in to her new home. To a person from another state, a Keralite wedding is a heartwarming spectacle for it’s simplicity and deeply symbolic rituals.