Telugu Wedding – Andhra Rice Rituals

 Andhra Pradesh is one of the prolific southern states in India and is well known for their extensive agricultural lands and the many number of people involved in farming. Just as in most of India, here too, the customs and rituals are diverse and extensive. This is possibly due to the fact that the people in the state are diverse too, especially the huge number of Muslims and Hindus. 

In Andhra Pradesh, the weddings are characterised by a rich cultural background and Telugu weddings are known for their strict adherence to formalities and rituals. In Andhra wedding rituals, the bride is the most important figure and is given most importance. Before the actual wedding, the bride worships the Mother Goddess by doing a Gowri puja, at the same time, the groom is performing the Ganesh puja. It is interesting to note that rice finds a prominent place in these rituals. As mentioned earlier, the people of Andhra Pradesh are predominantly farmers still pursuing agriculture, they use rice in their weddings as it symbolises a good harvest and eventually prosperity. In the same lines, the use of rice in weddings is believed to bring into the lives of the newlyweds, prosperity. 


Rice Grain Ritual

In a Telugu wedding, the bride, while performing the Gowri puja sits in a basket which is lined with grains of rice that is yet not polished. Also, during the wedding, the bride and the groom are blessed by older family members and friends using raw rice mixed with turmeric powder, called ‘Akshatha’. As part of the rituals of the Telugu weddings, sumangali women come in pairs holding huge plates that hold 16 or 17 lamps shaped like saucers. These lamps are made of a mixture of finely ground rice flour, milk with sugar. Besides this, they also bring two big trays of wet rice mixed with turmeric powder. This rice is a symbol that denotes the families seeking prosperity in the home of the newlyweds with an abundance of rice. These two trays with rice each have on top of them a gold pendant, which is placed over betel leaves. These pendants are the maangalyam that is tied around the neck of the bride with threads dipped in turmeric. 

Turmeric Rice Ritual

Earlier to tying the maangalyam, rice mixed with turmeric powder and saffron is brought and kept on the dais where the wedding takes place. Once the maangalya dhaaranam is over, the bride and groom shower this rice on one another. This apparently signifies their wish for a happy, content and joyous life together. While the grains are showered over each other, alternating between the bride and groom, the priest conducting the wedding chants the verses that bless the couple for a prosperous life with contentment. This practice of showering each other with rice also signifies that they should live with surplus grains and dairy such that they have enough for giving to the needy besides their personal needs. 

Seven Small Mounds of Rice

The Saptapadi is the most important aspect of the Andhra wedding that seals the union of the bride and groom and only then is they considered to be legally wed. The bride and groom hold each other’s hands with a cloth draped over it and take seven steps, every step after invoking the blessings of Lord Vishnu. Seven small mounds of rice are arranged during this ritual, to signify the Lord and the bond between the groom and the bride that is being strengthened.

Cooked Rice Ritual

After the couple are wedded legally and socially, they offer food to the lords through the Fire God, Agni, seeking blessings for a long and happy married life. For this purpose, the bride’s brother provides the parched rice for offering to Lord Agni. This is taken by the bride and in turn given to the groom, who offers it to the Fire God. This is performed thrice, every time circling the Agni. This apparently signifies fertility and their strong belief is that the Fire God abolishes any ignorance and troubles from their married life, at the same time guiding them towards a bright, knowledgeable life. After a series of other rituals, the bride is required to cook a small amount of rice and offer to Lord Agni. This symbolises the first rice cooked by the bride and has to be offered only to the Fire God. 

It’s Rice, Rice Rice all the way through!

After the wedding the bride enters her new home and this is called Gruhapravesham. The bride mandatorily enters her new home with sweets made of rice flour and jiggery, Ariselu and Chalimidi, a sweetmeat consisting of rice flour, sugar and coconut scrapings. As is evident, rice finds an important place in almost all the wedding rituals of Telugu weddings.


January 24, 2016