|NAGARATHAR MARRIAGE RITUALS
The Nichayadartham or engagement ceremony marks the
agreement between the bride's and groom's families regarding the marriage. The
ceremony takes place on an auspicious day and is celebrated with great
festivity at the brides's house. The agreement between
the bride and groom's families is written and a copy made of
it. This is taken to the bride's house in a platter filled with auspicious
symbols like flowers, turmeric, betel leaves, betel nut, fruits and rock sugar.
The priest conducts a few rituals to invoke the blessings of the Gods and the
agreement copies are read out. The bride's family also has a platter with
auspicious items ready and the platters are exchanged between the bride's and
groom's families. Each platter contains a copy of the agreement.
The Muhurthakkaal is a bamboo smeared with turmeric and kumkum and a bunch of
mango leaves at its tip. On an auspicious day, a week before the wedding, the
Chief Kottakai (pandal maker) plants this in the courtyard of the house with
due rituals. This is planted at the north-eastern part of the courtyard and
signifies the upcoming wedding. Once it is raised, both families must not
attend any inauspicious events till the wedding is over.
An auspicious day is picked for the Pon Kodutthal ceremony which
celebrates the giving of gold for the Kaluthuruvu or thali. The groom's family
gives part of the gold to make this auspicious ornament which is to be worn by
the bride. The bride's family makes the sacred Kaluthuruvu and it consists of
various sacred symbols. The pujari or priest reads the panchangam (a
calendar with auspicious dates) and the wedding date is selected.
This ceremony consists of constructing the brick platform or Manai for the
couple to sit on during ceremonies. Married women construct this brick platform
with the help of a mason and this is decorated beautifully. Wooden seats are
placed on this platform and the couple sits on this during the different
rituals that take place during the wedding.
This is a decorative bamboo pole erected near the
Manai to symbolise the presence of the king at the wedding as a witness. A bit
of coral is placed and consecrated with milk and the bamboo pole is placed
here. The coral symbolises the traditional trade of
Nagarathars and the milk, well-being. It is decorated with the
leaves of various trees like the kiluvai symbolizing growth, palai symbolizing
healthy offspring, mango for auspiciousness, peepul for longevity and tharpai
Kovilil Solrathu refers to registering the wedding at the temple. This happens
three days before the wedding when the families visit their respective
temples to register the wedding. This entitles them to receive the temple
garlands and prasadam. Then, the bridegroom is given the status of a pulli or a
full member of the Kovil and his wife is also accepted as part of this Kovil.
Maapillai Azhaippu refers to the ceremonial welcome given to the groom's family
and relatives by the bride's family. They arrive in a procession and
invite the groom and his family to the bride's home on the day of the wedding.
The wedding is usually held at the bride's home.
The bride's family welcomes the groom with gifts, auspicious items and a ring
placed on a large platter for the groom. The procession is accompanied by
the playing of the nadaswaram. The groom's mother carries a silver or gold
platter containing the bride's wedding attire, the Kaluthuruvu besides smaller
necklaces for everyday wear. The groom is then taken to a Pillaiyar or
Ganesha temple to seek his blessings before proceeding to the marriage venue.
Kaappu Katuthal or Bagavanam
Before the bridegroom arrives at the bride's house, a ceremony called Kaappu
Kattuthal takes place. The beautifully bedecked bride is made to sit on the
Manai. Her maternal uncle ties a red cloth with a silver coin and piece of
turmeric on her right hand. This is considered an appeal to the Lord to bless
the bride with a happy and prosperous married life.
Once the Kaappu Kattuthal ceremony is completed, the Poomanam Iduthal ceremony
takes place. This is a ceremony where the bride receives floral blessings from
the elders in her family. The blessing is given by putting some sprouted
grain into a silver vessel. Then, some flowers are dipped into another
silver vessel containing milk and the bride is blessed by touching her wrists,
elbows and shoulders three times with the flowers. Then, she leaves to wear her
The Saptapadi or seven steps around the fire is an important part of the
wedding ceremony. The bride's sari pallu and the end of the groom's dhoti are
tied in symbolic union and the couple walk around the sacred fire seven times
while the pujari chants the marriage rites.
The Thirupootuthal is the central part of the
wedding ceremony. The bride is brought to the manai dressed in her bridal
finery either by her maternal uncle or paternal aunt. She sits facing east and
also facing the bridegroom.The Kaluthooru is blessed by the guests and brought
to the manai. The bridegroom takes the
Kaluthooru or thaali and places it around the bride's neck
and sacred thread is knotted three times at the back of her neck.
Once this is completed, he slips the smaller necklaces over her neck.
Auspicious turmeric and kumkum are smeared over the thali and the knots. During
the entire ceremony, the bride holds a bowl of raw rice with a coconut embedded
in it. The nadaswaram plays throughout the ceremony and reaches its crescendo
as the thaali is tied.
The Pon Azhaippu ceremony refers to the ceremonial welcoming of the bride to
her marital home. Her husband's sister or mother conducts the following
ceremony. The ceremony consists of arranging together seven cups on a platter
filled with fruits, betel leaves, turmeric, sacred ash, rice, salt, tamarind
and cotton. A metal measure is filled with paddy and either a brinjal or
betel leaf is placed on it. This is known as the Nirai Nazi. Water is kept in a
vessel with a nozzle.
Once these auspicious items are arranged on a plate, the bride is made to stand
facing east. The person who conducts the ceremony touches the seven cups three
times and puts sacred ash on herself and then on the bride. After this is
carried out twenty-one times, the bride is given a betel leaf and water is
poured on it. Then the person conducting the ceremony touches the leaf to her
forehead. This is the befitting welcome for the bride to her new home. The
bride also performs Paada Puja for the mother-in-law which consists of washing
her mother-in-law's feet.
The Isaivu Pidimanam takes place after the marriage is completed. It is a
formal registration of the marriage where the marriage agreement is signed by
the fathers of the bride and the groom at the groom's house in the presence of
the elders and relatives. Click here to see