Nagarathar

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NAGARATHAR MARRIAGE RITUALS

Nichayadartham

  

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.

Muhurthakkaal
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.

Pon Kodutthal
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.

Manai Poduthal
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.

Arasanikkaal

  

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 grass.

Kovilil Solrathu
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.

Maappillai Azhaippu
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.

Poomanam Iduthal
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 bridal attire.

Saptapadi
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.

Thirupootuthal

  

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.

Pon Azhaippu
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.

Isaivu Pidimanam
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 Isaivu Pidimanam

 

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