Tamil Brahmin Wedding_Iyer Weddings in London Jeyaram Sharma & Srijanani Documentary Wedding Film
Tamil Brahmin Wedding (Jeyaram Sharma & Srijanani)
Iyers are a subsect of South Indian Sri Lankan Brahmins and generally speak Tamil. Iyer weddings are known as kalyaanam or thirumanam in Tamil. For specific details about vedic rituals described below, see Vedic wedding.
Iyer weddings, like many other Hindu weddings, typically last about 2–3 days. Traditionally, the family of the bride is responsible for organizing and planning the wedding.
Once the groom agrees, the “Maalai Maatral: or exchange of garlands between the bride and the groom, takes place. The bride and groom are lifted to the shoulders of their respective maternal uncles. This is an expression of continuing sibling support to their mothers. The bride and groom attempt to garland each other three times, with both sides trying to dodge each attempt. In the shastras, the exchange of garlands symbolizes their unification, as one soul in two bodies.
The couple are made to sit on the “Oonjal” or swing which is rocked gently. The swing’s oscillating motion is a message to the couple that they must stay strong together during the challenges and joys of life. Relatives and friends sing auspicious songs, blessing the couple. They are offered milk and bananas and the ladies from both the families throw coloured rice balls in four directions to ward off evil spirits. This ritual also signifies support of that family and friends during the couple’s married life.
Kannika Dhanam/Kanya Dhanam
The bride sits on the lap of her father. Her hands are lifted upward and placed on the upward turned hands of the groom. Auspicious items like a coconut, betel leaves, and nuts are placed on the hands of the bride.
On the bride’s head, a ring made of Darbha of Kusa grass is placed. And over it is placed a yoke. The gold Mangal Sutra or Thali is placed on the aperture of the yoke, and water is poured though the aperture.
The symbolism of the yoke is drawn out of ancient rural life where the only mode of transport for households was the bullock cart. It is supposed to signify that just as a bullock cart cannot run with just one bull; the marriage needs both the bride and groom. Both of them have to face their responsibilities together.
The Vedic concept underlying this ritual is figuratively that in her infancy Soma givers her coolness of the moon. In the next stage of life the Gandharvas gave her playfulness and beauty. And when she becomes a maiden Agni gave her passions.
A new sari, exclusive for the occasion, called the koorai is chosen. The colour of the koorai is ‘Arraku’ i.e. red, the colour associated with Shakti. This sari is draped around the bride by the sister of the bridegroom, signifying her welcome to the bride. A belt made of reed grass is then tied around the bride’s waist. Thanksgiving Vedic hymns follow, to the celestial caretakers of her childhood, the deities of Soma, Gandharva and Agni. Having attained nubility, the girl is now free to be given over to the care of the human—her man.
The bridegroom returns his assurance to the bride’s father saying three times that he shall remain forever her companion in joy and sorrow, in this life and life after.
The tying of the Mangal Sutra or Thali takes place at exactly the pre-determined auspicious hour. The bride is seated over a sheaf of grain-layden hay looking eastward on the lap of her father while the bridegroom faces westward. The bridegroom puts the gold Mangal Sutra around the neck of the bride. As he does so the Nadaswaram is played loud and fast so as to muffle any inauspicious sounds at the critical hour. This is called “Getti Melam”. At the same time as the Mangal Sutra a turmeric thread is also put around the bride’s neck. To this three knots are tied. The first knot is tied by the bridegroom. The other two knots are tied by the groom’s sister to make the bride a part of their family. The three knots symbolize Brahma, Vishnu and Rudhra.
The Nalangu starts with the bride and bridegroom being seated opposite each other. They apply turmeric on each other’s feet. The bride also takes yellow rice and waves it around her husband’s head and throws it away. This is repeated three times and the same is done by the husband. This is believed to ward off evil eyes.
This is followed by wedding games that bring in a light-hearted element into the wedding day and relieve the stress. Traditional games include the newly-weds putting their hands into a small bowl to find a small object with the person finding the object first the winner. Another game consists of rolling a coconut towards each other like a ball.