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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Indian Weddings down south!

99labels announced the 99labels Wedding Week Contest and I decided to participate in it for three reasons:
1. It's a really interesting subject and often the topic of heated discussions in many conversations
2. It's a good opportunity to create awareness about the meaning behind tradition and rituals
3. It's a bonus if I win the loot, of course!

All you have to do is blog about one or more of the following topics:
  • My big fat Indian wedding
  • What “not to do” while planning a wedding!
  • My dream wedding – Simple or lavish?
  • Traditions I love/hate in Indian weddings
  • My wedding shopping spree!
Traditions I love in Indian Weddings
As a little girl, growing up watching numerous romantic movies where the brides are dressed up like angels in lovely white gowns, I always thought that is the best way to get married. In my innocence, it never struck me that religion had anything to do with a wedding or that only Christians have a white wedding!

I belong to a South Indian Bramhin family and I am married to the most wonderful husband in the whole wide world...my dream did come true and how! I had an elaborate two- day wedding replete with all the rituals, amidst sacred chanting, auspicious beginnings and the blessings of our loved ones.

Like everything else in India, weddings look a little imperfect without traditions, rituals, fun and celebrations. Today, having travelled to different countries and experiencing different cultures and meeting different kinds of people...I realize that there is so much meaning and a sense of togetherness in our way of life - especially at weddings.

Everyone Counts!
Indian weddings are often a family affair, its not just about the bride and groom. Cousins, aunts, uncles and other relatives had come down for the wedding and its such a fun opportunity to meet everyone. Everyone helped a great deal with the wedding preparations and in receiving all the guests, sharing my parent's responsibilities. I also love the fact that in all our rituals, an aunt or uncle or brother has a role to play in every custom, it gives them a sense of participation and they feel important.

In south Indian weddings, there is a ritual called "Malai Mathal" which literally means "exchange of garlands". The bride and groom are lifted to the shoulders of their respective maternal uncles. This is an expression of continuing sibling support to their mother. It is often a lot of fun and laughter as the bride and groom dodge each other and everyone participates and enjoys the lightheartedness.

Kanyadaanam - a tribute to the Father-Daughter relationship
Kanyadaanam is a very important part of every Indian wedding. In a South Indian wedding, the bride sits on her father's lap while he performs the "kanyadaan" - "kanya" refers to girl and "daanam" refers to giving away. The father gives his most cherished gift, his daughter as a gift to the groom. It is believed that the groom is a form of Lord Vishnu. Thus, presenting him their most precious child is deemed as the greatest honor for the parents of the bride.

It is such a beautiful tradition and is such a lovely way to honour the parents of the bride. I was thrilled to be sitting on Appa's (father's) lap while getting married. I am truly his girl! I remember the pandit telling me to steadily look into my husband's eyes (I glady did) as part of the custom while sitting on Appa's lap while he tied the thali or mangalsutra to solemnize our union amidst vedic chants, our parents, relatives and everyone rushing to bless us with akshadai (rice-grains coated with turmeric and saffron, are showered on the couple, by elders and invitees – as benediction) and flowers - I remember that gorgeous moment even now!

Saptha Pathi - 7 steps towards an eternity of love and happiness
In "SapthaPathi" or seven steps, the groom holds the bride's hand and takes seven steps together around the holy fire. With each step, they take a vow - the belief is that when one walks seven steps with another, one becomes the other’s friend. In this small gesture, intimacy is mingled with earnest intentions, vowing in front of God - giving the ritual a whole new meaning. In North Indian weddings also, this is a very important step and is referred to as "Saath Phere".

Having watched the "Saath Phere" over and over in so many movies, it actually felt surreal yet wonderful to go through the same thing in real life. I also felt that this ritual propogates equality - that the man and woman are friends, companions for life.

Nalangu - good humoured fun!
The evening of the wedding day is "Nalangu" - a time to relax and have fun. The newly wed wife calls her husband for play. Much to the amusement of all gathered, there follows a series of playful games. During these events women sing songs, making fun of the bride, the groom and the in-laws.

Nalangu is good entertainment for all the guests and it also helps the bride and groom shed their inhibitions and get closer. At my wedding, I did'nt get a chance to play "Nalangu" as my husband felt it was very childish and we were too tired by then. We were engaged for a year before we got married so we had no inhibitons whatsoever by then, happily chatting away, much to the chagrin of my mother who wanted me to at least pretend to be a coy bride!

I am so glad that I got married in typical South Indian style intermingled with tradition, fun, and lots of love and blessings. Every single tradition and ritual has a deep meaning and fun element to it and its a once-in-a-lifetime experience...and you get married only once (well, atleast in my case)!

Your outlook towards life reflects who you are...similarly, I choose to look at the brighter side of every tradition and enjoy it thoroughly. I just LOVE our culture, tradition and weddings, of course!

Here’s how to participate:

  1. Become a member of 99labels (If you are not a member already) by clicking on the referral link at the bottom of this post. (You get Rs 100 worth of credit free to shop!) .
    1. Create a log-in preferably using the email id attached with your blog. This is to protect the anonymity of some bloggers as the referral link (read rule 2) displays your email-id.
  2. Post your referral link on the post (This means that whoever becomes a member clicking on the link gets Rs 100, and whenever you referral buys an item you get Rs 500). To find your referral link
    1. Log in on http://www.99labels.com/
    2. Click on “Invite friends” on the top menu.
    3. Go to bottom of page and look for “Copy and paste your personal invitation link” and paste the link at the bottom of your post E.g . My Referral invite – http://www.99labels.com/v1/Become-Member.aspx?re=xyz@gmail.com
  3. Copy and paste all the rules in your post.
  4. Leave a link to your post in the comments section of the contest page of 99labels http://blog.99labels.com/2010/10/25/wedding-week-blogging-contest/.
  5. Copy and paste this image at the end of the post and the category under which you have posted.

Edited to add: I won second place and a 1000 Rs. gift voucher!! Yay!!!

11 comments:

Vaish said...

It brought me back my wedding memories! I simply love our 3 day marriage. I love the madisaar affair, jimikis and mattals, andal kondai etc too!
And ofcourse, the malai mathal and unjal are my favourite! thengai uruttal is also so much fun!

Pretty Woman said...

Vaish,

:) Aandal Kondai? Guess you are an iyengar! I am glad it brought back good memories...

Vivek Nanda said...

Well written, sometimes I forget our cultures and reading those things make us realize- what a culture!

lipstick said...

Hmm for me the thali part was over whelming. I enjoyed the malai mathara part the most where each side lifts the bridegroom and bride high up so that the other one can try and garland them.

Pretty Woman said...

Vivek Nanda,

Indeed, I strongly believe we have a very rich culture! :)...and thank you :)

Pretty Woman said...

lipstick,

good to know ur feelings too...indeed, maalai maathal is a lot of fun! :)

homecooked said...

Nice one :) I cant wait to attend my cousins wedding later this year!

Pretty Woman said...

Homecooked,

Thank you! :)...have fun at the wedding....get all decked up and enjoy!

Lakshmi said...

Congratulations Jan on winning 2nd place.as always enjoyed reading ur post :) loved ur sarees too.they look gorgeous! plz do share pics of you wearing them along with the accessories.

Rajkumar Singh said...

Beautiful blog,i like traditions and rituals in Indian wedding and grooming of
Indian girl in jewellery
so pretty.Thanks

Arnab M said...


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