Kerala Wedding Rituals
Truly a paradise for nature lovers, Kerala is considered God’s land and hence there is no doubt in saying that the culture and traditions of Kerala people are unique and rich. Home to diverse traditions, Kerala’s exceptional culture is well described by the Malyali wedding rituals.
Whether you talk about the wedding attire of the bride and groom or the decoration of the homes and wedding venues everything creates a nuance in a traditional Malyali wedding custom in comparison with other Hindu wedding cultures.
Though there are very limited rituals that mark the celebration of a Malyali wedding, all of them create a great impact on society through the message conveyed by them. Malyali wedding rituals are no less than a blend of love, reverence and gratitude towards elders and god that is wrapped in the envelope of surreal ritualistic acts.
Let’s take a tour of all the Malyali wedding rituals through the below-given information.
Pre-wedding rituals of the Malyali Wedding –
1. Muhurtam –
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In a traditional arranged Malyali marriage, the families of the boy and girl take the help of a competent priest to match the Kundali of both ones. According to the priest, if both the Kundalis make a perfect match, the families of both parties decide a day to fix the date and timing of the auspicious wedding ceremony. This unique date and timing are called the Muhurath or Muhurtham of the wedding.
2. Nischayam –
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After finalizing the union of two individuals with the mutual decisions, both families conduct an engagement ceremony. In the Malyali culture, the engagement ceremony is recognized as Mothiram Mataal. This is also celebrated as the official wedding announcement day. Once the soon-to-be bride and groom exchange beautiful rings, the wedding dates are announced publically. In the end, both families including several relatives, close friends and loved ones offer gifts to each other. The Nischayam takes the relationship between the bride and groom one notch higher.
3. Mehendi Ceremony –
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Very similar to the other Hindu wedding rituals, Mehendi is an integral celebration of the Malyali wedding ceremony. In this ritual, the palms, hands and feet of the bride are adorned with intricate Heena designs. First, the aunt of the bride makes a small patch on one of the palms of the bride as an ominous start then a professional Heena artist draws the scintillating Heena designs.
4. Dakshina Kodukkal –
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This significant wedding ritual takes place on the big day of the bride and groom. They perform it right before leaving for the wedding venue or a temple where the nuptial ceremonies are going to happen. Here the Dakshina word belongs to the Sanskrit language which signifies giving something beneficial to a person. The bride and groom seek the blessings of all the elders in their respective families and they offer them love and blessings in the form of “Dakshina“. Attaining the blessings of elders right before trying the nuptial knot is considered very auspicious and lucky for the couple.
In some families, this ritual is celebrated a day before the wedding day. A traditional feast follows this pre – nuptial blessing ceremony.
Wedding Day Rituals of a Malyali Marriage Celebration
5. Madhuparkam Ritual –
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On the wedding day, the groom arrives at the wedding venue with his all relatives, friends and other close family members. The bride’s family welcomes them warmly and washes the feet of the groom. This depicts the reverence towards the groom who is going to be their Son in law. Now the groom offers a unique white color saree known as Kasavu to his in-laws. This white saree is for the bride and she is expected to wear that saree when she is decking herself up for performing the pious wedding rituals.
6. Kanyadaan ritual –
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A very significant ritual of all the Hindu wedding ceremonies, Kanyadaan is celebrated as a remark of giving away the daughter to another family in Malyali wedding customs. After welcoming the groom and his entire family to the wedding place, he sits at the wedding place where a holy fire is lighting. This sacred fire flame is called Veli. The bride glorifies the whole ambiance with her beautiful entry and accompanies the groom at the wedding place. Now the bride and groom take three rounds of the holy fire together. After the completion of three rounds, the father of the bride places a yellow-colored sacred thread which is called Thaali. The groom ties this Thaali around the neck of the bride and the ritual is called Thaalikettu.
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Now the real Kanyadaan ritual takes place. The father of the bride places the bride’s hand on the groom’s hand. This shows that he is handing over all the responsibilities of his daughter to the groom. The priest performs the religious puja at the wedding place and cites the sacred mantras mentioned in the ancient scriptures. Here the Kanyadaan ritual gets concluded.
7. Sparsham Ritual –
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A very beautiful ritual of the Malyali wedding is Sparsham which symbolizes the equality of both the individuals who are going to be a married couple soon. The groom sits on the floor in a way that his forehead should touch the bride’s forehead. The priest chants wedding mantras and directs the bride to offer puffed rice in the holy fire, called Veli in the Malyali wedding customs. After this, the groom holds one of the feet of the bride (right foot) and touches it to the Ammi. Here Ammi is a grindstone. This ritual shows that the bride is lovingly breaking the old ties and heading towards a new life and a new family.
8. Pudamuri –
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This malyali wedding ritual shows the groom’s love and care towards his bride. The groom gives a beautiful silk saree with a matching blouse to the bride on a well-decorated platter. This depicts that the groom will always fulfill the needs of his wife and provide her with a desirable living with all his efforts. After this the bride and groom exchange beautiful garlands and accept each other completely. Both members promise each other that they will spend the rest of their lives with dense love and respect for each other.
9. Sadhya Lunch ritual –
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This final ritual concludes the Malyali wedding celebration with a traditional sumptuous meal. Sadhya lunch is a center of attraction in the entire Malyali wedding ceremony. A traditional meal including 25different edible things lures every attendee of the wedding event. It is beautifully presented on a plantain leave which is commonly known as a Banana leaf. Boiled rice, a wide array of vegetables and curries, savories such as pappadam and khichdi, pickles, fruit, buttermilk, and of course dessert coalesce together and make a mouthwatering traditional meal or a highlight of the Malyali wedding event.
Here the main Malyali wedding rituals get concluded and the couple seeks the blessings of all the elders presented at the wedding event.
Post-wedding rituals in a Malyali Wedding Custom
After performing all the ritualistic wedding acts at the wedding venue, an emotional moment arrives for the bride and her entire family and close ones. She leaves her paternal home and all her loved ones behind and heads towards her new home, her in-law’s home. All the close ones sob and wave goodbye to the bride with love and blessings.
10. Kudivep –
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When the bride arrives at her new home, she receives a lovely and warm welcome from all the family members of the groom. Mother in law of the bride stands at the threshold of the main door and waits for the arrival of the bride. She prepares an Aarti for her and performs aarti to ward off all the evil sights and negative energies far from the bride. The mother-in-law of the bride also gives her a lit oil lamp which is a remark of prosperity in the new home of the bride.
11. Grihapravesh –
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In the Malyali wedding tradition, Grihapravesh is considered a very ominous ceremony. The bride enters the home with her husband and holds the oil lamp in her hand. She enters the home with her right leg first. After entering the home the bride visits the home temple with her husband and offers a small prayer and both seek blessings for their wedded life ahead.
A Nair Hindu family residing in Kerala follows most of the wedding rituals that are mentioned above. But some nuptial ceremonies make a Nair wedding celebration slightly different from the Malyali wedding event. Dakshina kodukkal and Pudamuri are two wedding rituals that take place only in the Nair families.
Another unique thing about Malyali weddings is, it does not occur in the evening or night like other Hindu wedding rituals. But it happens in the early morning as it is believed that morning times are the most auspicious for tying the nuptial knot. The monsoonseason weddings in Malyali culture are also the most favorable for couples and their families.