Kalyanam- The Tamil Way

The grandeur of a wedding in the Tamil custom is in the number of guests attending the wedding. It is customary for only relatives and close friends gracing the lengthy rituals of a Tamil wedding also known as Kalyanam. While horoscopes, astrology and the placement of the stars and planets decide on the match, it is all about auspicious timing for the wedding and all the rituals preceding and following the actual moment. The wedding in the Tamil custom can be divided in three parts, pre-wedding, wedding and the post wedding.

The Excitement

 The pre wedding celebrations mark the beginning of the excitement not only for the bride and groom, but for both the families and friends. It’s all fun and frolic preparing for the wedding be it shopping, booking the venue, planning the menu for the meal, designing the invitation and inviting the loved ones personally. The excitement kick starts from the time of the engagement until the day of the moment.

As a mark of heralding the wedding, some of the customary rituals include, 

  • Pandha Kaal Nadrathu – A long stick in planted in front of the wedding house to announce the official start of the wedding celebrations. The long stick is also for the guests from far off to identify the house.
  • Aarati – A camphor is lit up to cast off all evil spirits from the bride and groom and is thrown away on the street, signifying the chasing off.
  • Vratham – A puja before the wedding that is performed by the priest who solemnises the event, invoking the gods for their blessings.
  • Paalikai Thellichal – A custom where the grains are soaked for a few days and the sprouted grains are immersed in the water for fishes to feed on them as an act to symbolise appeasing the water god. 
  • Naandi – The holy men or the Brahmins are showered with gifts to please them so that they bless the gathering and the couple wholeheartedly. 
  • Nicchiyadhartham – The official engagement of the marriage, where the couple exchange rings and pronounce love for one another by agreeing to wed each other.
  • Lagna Pathrigai – Is the official announcement by reading out the invitation of the wedding to all who are gathered seeking their blessing and no objection.


The Emotions

After all preparations and excitement it finally comes down to tying the knot signifying the beginning of a new life of togetherness for the couple and their families. The fun and enthusiasm reach unparallel heights that it finally blossoms in to beautiful emotions. The departure of a daughter from one household and entering another, a woman leaving the hand of her father to holding her husband’s and a family accepting a new daughter in to their household and hearts as their own.  Some of the rituals as performed by the gods themselves during the wedding ceremony are as follows.

  • Mangala Snaanam – Is a purifying bath the couple take before participating in the wedding ceremony. 
  • Kashi Yatra- The groom gets angry and sets out to the holy land of Kashi on a self imposed exile of celibacy, when the bride’s father stops and brings him back promising the hand of his daughter to give up celibacy. 
  • Onnjal Aatuthal – The bride and the groom meet in a swing eating banana and milk and profess the love for each other and go ahead with the wedding.
  • Kanyadaanam – The bride’s father then gives away his daughter’s hand in marriage to the groom with his blessing.
  • Muhurtham – The auspicious time to tie the mangalsutra or the wedlock around the bride’s neck knotting the sacred yellow thread thrice symbolises the completion of the marriage. Vermilion is placed on the bride’s forehead by the groom showcasing that he is the husband of the lady. 
  • Saptapadi – After the event the couple go around the sacred fire seven times invoking the blessing of the fire god to be happily married.


The Enjoyment

With the marriage over, the celebrations once again begins, as life starts all over again for the couple. The couple are now ready to meet everyone to get their blessings and wishes. But even as the family begin to rejoice, a few customary events still in store for the marriage to be officially completed.

  • Sammandhi Mariyathai – Both the families exchange gifts as part of the wedding celebrations.
  • Aarathi – The couple is welcomed in to the new home by the traditional aarathi chasing away evil spirits.
  • Grihapravesham – The entrance of the new bride in to the household is called Grihapravesham.

This is followed by a reception for all family and friends in a formal manner to greet and wish the couple and celebrate the wedding in the most grand manner followed by an exquisite dinner to end the celebrations.


January 24, 2016