The Tamil people in India are well-known for their elaborate and colorful wedding rituals. These are done not just for entertainment value, but due to a strong sense of tradition and observance of their religion. Even so, it never fails to be full of festivity. All the boys and girls of the family gather and celebrate, and the mood is contagious, even to the non-relatives who witness the ceremony.
Before the marriage takes place, the Brahmins of Tamil Nadu practice fasting and fill their days with puja, or daily prayers. The bride receives the groom's family, and there is an exchange of gifts. There are a series of rituals performed, such as kasha yatra and oonjal. There is also a practice called kanyaadaan, wherein the bride sits on her father's lap. All the family members of both the bride and the groom are involved in these rituals and contribute to the numerous preparations.
One day before the wedding, the parents from both sides receive a blessing in a ritual called Panda Kaal Muhurtham.
One ritual is the Pallikai Thelichal, wherein the bride's family place grains in earthen pots. Women from both sides sprinkle them with water while wedding songs are sung and dances are danced. The grains sprout the next day, and are placed in the pond to be fish food, in order to win the blessing of the Fish God.
In the presence of the priest, the groom presents the bride with a sari, which she dons during the wedding ceremony. Her forehead is adorned with a tilak. Her sari is filled with cashew nuts. Then the priest reads the marriage invitation to all. This is called lagan patri.
The actual Tamil matrimony ceremonies also involve a number of ceremonies. They usually take place in a large wedding hall, which is booked beforehand. The date of the wedding is set by consulting the Hindu Calendar. There are certain dates that are said to be not good for marriages. Couples usually avoid the times between July to August 15, September to October 15, and December to January 15.
In the morning of the wedding, the bride and groom take purifying baths called Mangala Snanam in their homes. Then, the groom takes a walking stick and in a Sadhus Dress, he totes along a few clothes and goes from one house to another, as if he were going on a pilgrimage. This is called the Kashi Yatra. In a role play, the bride's father approaches him, asking him to take on the responsibility of taking care of his daughter. The groom agrees and returns home to make the preparations.
The bride dresses in a red sari given by the groom, adorned by gold accessories such as rings and bangles. Floral ornaments decorate her forehead. The groom usually wears a dotti in plain white with a white shoulder patta.
The bride and groom meet and exchange garlands. They then sit on a swing, called a jhoola. They are given a spoonful of banana and milk by married women from both sides. These women then make rice balls in a counter-clockwise direction, to ward away evil.
Then, the bride's parents give their daughter's hand to the groom. The groom takes her right hand and leads her around the sacred fire seven times. This is called Saptapadi, and it solemnizes the ceremony.
There are also post-wedding rituals. There is a venue prepared specifically for this purposes, where the feast take place. All the relatives contribute in the preparations for this feast. Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian Indian cuisine are served. Coffee is also a typical part of the feast, and various blends can be sampled. After the feast, gifts and sweets are presented to the couple.
After the Tamil matrimony, the bride is taken to the groom's house to take up residence there permanently.