Mangala-Solemnised by experience
Mangala or the customary Coorg wedding is solemnised by elders with their wishes and blessings and conspicuous in their absence is the priest who usually performs a wedding in India. Hence a wedding in Coorgi custom is sans smoke filled ritual and is replaced with unique practice as per their traditions.
Marriages in Coorgi custom is spread over two days. The day before the wedding, Uur kuuduva or Karik muripa is held and on the day of the wedding, Muurtha and Sammanda kodupa is held before finishing the celebrations with Ganga puje.
The men are dressed in knee length coat called the Kupya, fastened around the hip called chele and crowned with a turban on the head. The ladies are usually attired in silk saris worn in a unique manner attributed only to their race.
The Start - Uur Kuuduva/Karik Muripa
The wedding celebrations and preparations is kick started with Uur Kuuduva or Karik Muripa, where the families and friends of the couple come together in the wedding house. The groom lays his stake to bride’s hand with the blessings of the elders gathered to witness the joyous occasion. The bride and the groom are adorned with a necklace after praying to their respective deities. This occasion of gathering together of people in the community is called Uur Kuuduva. During this event the ladies engaged themselves in helping the cook come up with a feast by cutting the vegetables and hence the event is called Karik Muripa. The Coorgis are a warrior clan and hence the hunting skills run in their blood line. So their staple diet includes all the rich and healthy food from the mountains and meat from their kill, The day ends with music and dance and a sumptuous feast.
The Event – Muurtha
The wedding is held in place which is decorated in a simple traditional manner and sacred lamp is kept as prostrating deity for the couple to be married. The groom wears a white kupya and a red waist band and white and gold turban. He accessorise it with a Coorg dagger and a war knife as part of his attire. The bride wears a red silk sari in Coorgi style decked with gold jewellery.
Another important custom during the Coorg wedding is the Baale Birud, or cutting of the banana stems. These banana stems represent soldiers stopping the groom from marrying bride. So maternal uncles of the couple chop the stems representing slaying the evil spirits nd helping the couple unite.
The blessing of the couple is called Dampathi Muurtha, The couple prostrate before the sacred lamp and guest gathered. The guests along with family members wish the couple and shower their blessing with rice, considered a sacred grain in the Coorg community. The groom also finally bless the bride and offer her gifts of gold, silver and copper signifying his promise to share his wealth with his future wife.
The actual wedding ceremony is called Sammanda Kodupa which is basically the bride being welcomed in to the groom’s family. The entire ceremony is solemnised by elders of both the families through dialogues. An interesting act during this ritual is the exchange of pebbles by a respected elder from either of the family. Twelve pieces of pebbles are given to the groom’s representative by the bride’s elder symbolising handing over the bride to the groom’s family. But only eleven pebbles are taken showing that the bride can continue to have relations with her maternal home.
The closing ceremony
The two day long celebrations comes to an end with the bride picking up water from the well in the groom’s house, also called neer edpa or ganga puje. As per the ritual the bride prays to the water god by offering beetle leaves, areca nuts, coconut water and rice. She then collects water and heads back to the wedding venue where the groom’s family customarily welcomes her. The entire event is filled with fun and frolic as the guests ensure they thoroughly enjoy the event and make it a memorable occasion for the couple.
The Coorgis are known for their feasting and fun loving nature. The warrior clan known for their hunting skills gives the utmost respect for women. This is showcased during the wedding while blessing the couple and also while dining as the women are allowed first to do so before the men do, The wedding is also marked with music and dance throughout bringing out their joyous spirit of the event.
January 24, 2016