17 Tamil Wedding Ceremony Customs & Traditions You Should Know - Eternity UK
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17 Tamil Wedding Ceremony Customs & Traditions You Should Know

5th July 2023

South Asian weddings are so fun. The music, the celebration, the colours, the love: it’s all incredible. Every single element of a wedding ritual & custom relates to a deep-rooted South Asian tradition, each of which were carried out by each of our ancestors many, many years ago. That being said, given that there are around 29 distinct cultures within the region, it’s safe to say that no two weddings are really ever the same. Each family has various nuances to the events, which makes every event at every wedding very unique.

In this blogpost, we’ve decided to explore all the Tamil wedding ceremony customs & traditions that every could should know.

COMMUNICATION IS KEY
Whilst we hope this post is extremely useful in giving you a bit of a starting point to understanding the traditions, it's always best to speak to your partner & families to see how you want to interpret and implement them into your wedding.

Nischayathartham: The Engagement Ceremony

The Nischayathartham ceremony symbolises the first step towards marriage. 

The families of the bride and groom come together, exchanging gifts, and finalising the wedding date. The couple also exchanges rings, symbolising their commitment to one another.

Panda Kaal Muhurtam

The “Panda Kaal Muhurtam” is a cherished Tamil wedding tradition which lets friends & family know that the wedding is soon about to take place. 

To perform this ritual, the wedding parties bring home a bamboo pole, which is washed in a specific mixture of milk, water, turmeric paste, sandalwood paste and vermillion. This is then placed in any one of the corners outside of the house, and decorated with various items such as leaves of a banana plant, colourful flowers & more. 

Many consider this to be the blessings for the start of a happy and successful marriage.

Sumangali Prarthanai

During the Sumangali Prarthanai, the bride-to-be seeks the blessings of married women in her family and community. The ceremony is usually conducted at the bride’s home or wedding venue a day before the wedding. It is auspicious to have an ‘odd’ number of women partake in this ceremony ie. 3, 5, 7, or 9 close married women.

Pallikal Thellichal

The “Pallikal Thellichal” is a unique & symbolic ritual that involves the breaking of clay pots filled with rice, kumkum, and flowers. The ritual holds significance and is believed to bring good luck, remove obstacles, and ensure prosperity in the married life of the couple. 

The seven pots are also decorated by the married women, and traditionally broken by the mama (mum’s brother), followed by ample amounts of celebration.

Naandi Shraddham

Often carried out the day before the wedding, the Naandi Shraddham is when one side of the family welcomes to other family, and welcomes them with trays of dried fruits, sweets, betel leaves, betel nuts, fruits and more. They are showered with rosewater and presented with garlands and a vermillion tikka.

After the warm welcome, the families traditionally invite ten Brahmins and treat them to a traditional vegetarian lunch. Some families choose to present them with traditional two piece garments (veshtiangavastram) along with betel leaves, betel nuts, coconut, fruits and sweets. The Brahmins bless the couple and wish them a prosperous life ahead.

Vrutham

The Vrutham ceremony is a symbolic ceremony which is traditionally performed the morning of the wedding at the Groom’s house, and is nowadays open to interpretation. A piece of yellow thread with turmeric is tied around the individuals wrist, which symbolises the change in an individuals phase of life e.g. going from a boy to entering manhood a as a married man.

Mangala Snanam

The Mangala Snanam is closely associated to a haldi ceremony, often at the crack of dawn at each partner’s respective home. The couple are smeared with a paste of turmeric, sandalwood and kumkum by their family and friends, after which they are bathed in holy water to cleanse and purify their body and soul. They then proceed to get ready for the ceremony.

Gauri Puja

This is one of the first parts of the traditional Tamil wedding ceremony. An idol of the Goddess Gauri, who represents purity, austerity and virtue, is placed on a plate containing rice and kumkum. After the bride has been dressed up, she offers her prayers and performs a short puja to the Gauri idol wishing for a happily married life ahead.

Aalathi

The “Aalathi” ceremony, also known as “Aarti,” is a significant ritual that is performed in Tamil weddings and other Hindu ceremonies, by two married women. It is a traditional act where the women circle a tray of light in front of the bride or groom to ward off any obstacles. The Aalathi is performed at the start and end of the wedding ceremony.

Pada Puja

After the groom arrives at the wedding mandap, the parents of the the partner wash his feet with holy water, sandalwood, milk, and kumkum. His feet are then wiped dry with flower petals.

Maalai Maatral

As the partner arrives at the mandap, this ceremony indicates the exchange of garlands with the partner 3 times, amidst tons of laughter and playful antics. 

Kanyadaanam

The Kanyadaanam is a traditional ceremony where the bride’s parents formally offer their daughter as a gift to the groom, symbolising the transfer of responsibility and guardianship from the bride’s family to the groom’s family. “Kanya” means daughter, and “danam” refers to the act of giving. The tradition has since then been interpreted to include more equality within the partnership.

IMAGE VIA JERMAINE CHANDRA
Muhurtham

After the official Kanyadaanam, the Muhurtham is the process of the groom’s family offering the ‘Koorai’ saree to the bride. This is offered as a gift from the groom’s family, as a form of acceptance and welcoming their new family member. This is traditionally a red saree, which the bride then departs to change into. At this point, she makes a second walk down the aisle in her newly gifted outfit, which has been blessed by friends, family & wedding guests.

IMAGE VIA WEVA PHOTOGRAPHY
Saptapadi

The bride and the groom hold hands and take seven steps around the holy fire while the priest chants Vedic mantras in Saptapadi, which is one of the most important rituals in the marriage and represents the vows. The groom then holds the bride’s left toe as she steps over a grindstone, symboliing the solidity of their union.

IMAGE VIA MADE IN MONO
Thaali Ceremony

The “Thaali” ceremony, also known as the “Mangalsutra ceremony” or “Tying the Knot,” is a significant ritual in Tamil weddings. It is the moment when the groom ties the thaali around the bride’s neck, symbolizing their marital bond and union.

The Thaali is a sacred thread or necklace with a pendant that is traditionally made of gold. It is a symbol of a married woman and represents her marital status and the commitment between the couple. The Thaali is typically given to the groom by the bride’s family during the wedding ceremony.

IMAGE VIA SHOT STORIES
Kumkumam

The Kumkumam ceremony symbolises the start of married life. In this ceremony, the groom takes a small amount of kumkum on his right thumb and applies it in the center of the bride’s forehead, usually in a red dot or bindi-like shape. This act indicates the groom marking the bride as his partner and the commencement of their married life.

IMAGE VIA @LINANDJARSA
Nalangu

“Nalangu” is a fun and light-hearted traditional ceremony that takes place during Tamil weddings. It is a playful and entertaining event where the bride and groom, along with their friends and family, participate in various games and activities.

The Nalangu ceremony typically occurs after the main wedding rituals, such as the Thaali ceremony. It serves as a joyful celebration to bring laughter, bonding, and merriment to the wedding festivities.

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