The Hindu Wedding Significance
Nitchaya Thampoolam – Hindu Engagement
Though Hindu marriages are traditionally arranged, marriage by consent, the bride and groom choosing one another, is also a trend. Nitchaya thampoolam which follows the choice is the Hindu engagement. Thampoolam or Vetrilai (betel leaf) and its complement Paakku (betel nut) are ceremoniously exchanged with other gifts at the bride’s residence announcing the betrothal.
Ponn Urukku – Gold Melting Ceremony
A significant occasion a few weeks beofre the wedding is the Ponn Urukku ceremony attended by parents and the elders at which the groom presents a gold coin to the family goldsmith for its ritual meltdown to fashion the Thaali – the bridal pendant.
Arathanareeswarar (A half male half female image of God)
- The Allusion – Hindu Mythology Bhringi the grand old sage once sped
- To Mount Kailash for Shiva’s grace.Tread three circles round the Lord;Be blessed for this, his divotee mode.
- Ushered before his benign calm Bhringi paused for there he found Shiva with Shakthi wrapped in arm, Worship woman, was he bound!
- Bhringi would turn a tiny bee To fly a course between the waists, Only the Lord to circle, d’you seel, Canny glee Shiva spied in sages’s eyes.
- Shiva smiled, edged, and snuggled She,Lo they fused! Sheiva half, Shakthi half,Late it dawned to humble sage He and she make one eternal.
(Bringa is a Sanskrit for Bee. The sage came to be called Bhringi because he once became a bee.)
Divine Purification and Protection
On the auspicious hour, the priest sprinkles holy water sanctifying the ceremonial area. He then performs the Pillaiar Poosai, a prayer to Lord Ganesha, invoking his blessings and protection for the wedding to take place without any unforeseen hindrances. To enlist divine protection from the unforeseen, the priest gives the groom a Pavithram, a ring of Thetpai (a grass), and a Kaapu made of saffron thread to be worn on his wrist.
Three or five married ladies chosen from both parties are called upon to perform the Paalikai ceremony, sowing of Navathaniam (nine grains) in an earthen pot to ensure fertility in the union
The bride now enters the ceremonial area, bejewelled, in shimmering silk and floral hairdo, accompanied by the Tholi, flower girls and ladies-in-waiting. The Tholan makes way to stand by and the bride sits on the groom’s right.
The priest repeats the Pavithram and Kaapu ritual for the bride. Next is the Shiva Paarvathi (shakthi) Poosai, the enactment of the Shiva-Paarvathi wedding or the Thirukkalyanam, followed by the Navakiraka ( 9 planets) Poosai invoking the blessing of the nine holy planets. The sacred fire, omum, is now lit invoking deity Agni to bear witness to the marriage – Agni Chatchi.
The groom then presents the Koorai and the Thaali to the bride and welcomes her into his family. Before presenting these to the bride, they are blessed by the priest and are taken around in a tray to be blessed by the elders in the congregation. The bride now leaves the Manavarai and retires to her bridal boudoir. She then returns to the Manavarai, dazzling in her gold braided Koorai, and garlands the groom expressing thus her consent and acceptance.
Padaksinam and Poorana Ahuthi
Agni, the god of fire, is central to most Hindu rites. Tradition has it that marriages be solemnized in his presence. Here he stands as the universal witness to the union. – Agni Chaatchi. accompanied by the Tholan and Tholi, the bride and groom take their first steps as man and wife to walk clockwise three times around the sacred fire to pay their respect to Agni, the representative of the gods. Certain rituals are performed while going around the fire.
At this moment the groom also is reminded that he remains chaste and faithful. This the priest does by drawing his attention to a muslin wrapped green branch of a Mulmurukku, a tree with a myriad of oval thorns (here substituted by a stick) planted in a clay pot in front of the Manavarai. The thorns signifies the thousand eyed spectacle, Indra, the King of Heaven, was transformed into by the curse of sage Gautama for Indra’s tryst with the beautiful Ahaliha, the sages wife. This is a grim reminder of the price Indra paid for his indiscretion. Ahaliha turned by her husband’s curse into a stone for her infidelity regains her human form purified and resplendent when the divine Rama, on his way to Mithila, treads on it. This is the significancve of Ammi Mithithai, the couple performed when they first circled the Omum.
Mothiram Eduthal or finding the ring contest between the bride and the groom comes at the end of the third round. This provides for a lighter moment eliciting giggles and chuckles as fingers play and flounder for the ring in the privacy of the pot.
Next, the couple perform the Poorna Ahuthi which is the offering of grains, honey and fruits to the gods through their representative Agni, in attendance as Omum, the sacred fire, imploring them to bless and render their wedlock holy.
Aseervaatham – Blessings
The priest first blesses the couple, showering them with rice, a symbol of happiness, prosperity and fertility, followed by the parents of the groom, the bride, their close relatives and the guests. The wedding ceremony ends with an Arathi as the newlyweds stand at the Manavarai.
Virunthupasaram – The Wedding Feast
There is great rejoicing as a feast is spread to celebrate a momentous occasion. Mute blessings flow from guests honoured and entertained with a Virunthu (dinner) from a menu appealing to Arusuvai (the six tastes) that the human palette is said to be able to clearly discern