“Madam, all is arranged, my wedding is 1st of December! Can I invite you!? You have to come!”, she said with very warm friendly voice to which you can not refuse anything.
“Oh, wonderful! That’s wonderful! I will be very happy to come! Let me congratulate you!”, and I meant it.
After a while I asked: “Remya, is it arranged marriage?”
She looked at me with surprise: “Yes, of course, it is arranged marriage.”
“But you are happy?!”, I had to ask it.
“Madam, I am very happy!”, she looked at me with eyes full of love and there was no hesitation in her voice.
MALYALEE NAIR WEDDINGS IN KERALA
Malyalee Nair weddings in Kerala are simple and brief. It has few rituals and far lesser religious compulsions. A traditional Nair wedding is conducted in a nearby temple, bride’s residence or in a convention center which is convenient for both the parties.
WHO ARE NAIRS?: Nair is the name of a Hindu caste in the Southern Indian state of Kerala. Nairs are an integral part of Kerala’s culture and have a long and illustrious history. Nairs are a warrior class (a martial nobility). They are similar to the samurai of Japan. The word Nair is either derived from the Sanskrit word Nayaka (leader) or Naga (snakes, which the Nairs worshipped). The Nair class name also encompasses Menon, Panicker, Kurup, Pillai, Unni, Unnithan, Kartha, Thampan, Kaimal, Nayanar, Thampi, and Nambiar. (Wikipedia)
PRE NAIR WEDDING CEREMONIES
MUHURTHAN: The parents of the girl and boy exchange horoscopes and if the horoscopes match, an auspicious date or muhurtham is decided upon for conducting the Nair wedding ceremony in consultation with the family astrologer.
NISCHAYAM – THE ENGAGEMENT CEREMONY: This ceremony is to announce, share and celebrate the joyful event of the confirmation of marriage. Horoscopes which have been already compared and approved are exchanged during this ceremony. During the celebration, there may be a mothiram maattal (ring exchange) ceremony. Gifts are exchanged between the families.
PRE – NUPTIAL BLESSING OF THE BRIDE: This function is held at the bride’s residence on the previous day of the Nair wedding. Her close family members and relatives are only invited for the function and a grand fest is organized for them. The bride dressed in fine jewellery and silk saree is made to sit facing the east and she takes the blessings of her elders. A similar function is organized by the groom’s family in his house.
MEHENDI CEREMONY: This ceremony takes place at the bride’s house where usually the bride’s aunts apply mehendi on the bride’s hands. This is one of the most celebrated ceremony.
NAIR WEDDING RITUALS
The most preferred destination to conduct Malayalee Nair weddings is the ancestral house of the bride. Today it is more of a matter of picking a convenient venue suitable for both the families either in a convention center or temple.
DAKSHINA KODUKKAL: Both the bride and bridegroom get the blessings of the elders by giving “Dakshina” and then touching their feet. The marriage ceremony starts with this ritual that is carried out in their respective homes. Thereafter the bridegroom and party leaves for the venue of the wedding.
VARAVELPPU: In this ritual, the bride’s family receives the groom’s family at the entrance of the venue of marriage, to the tune of nadaswarams (long wind-instruments). The groom stands on a wooden plank while the bride’s younger brother washes his feet. The bride’s aunts (wives of maternal uncles) perform aarti for the groom with a platter on which are arranged wicks made of twisted cotton.
The groom is then escorted to the mandapam (platform constructed to perform the wedding rites) by two rows of young girls. The kalyana mandap should be decorated in a specific way.
The sacred arrangements should be arranged with special care as each of these has certain meanings in the Hindu custom. One girl carries the changala vatta (sacred oil lamp), while another carries the ashtamangalyam (eight auspicious articles).
The girls following the first two, carry the taala poli (platters of rice, turmeric, and flowers on which oil lamps lit in the broken half of a coconut are placed).
With his parents on either side, the groom follows the girls around the mandapam and seats himself on the right side of the canopy, which is decorated by flowers, fabric, palm fronds, and banana stalks
PUDAMURI: The bridegroom gifts the bride a sari and a blouse on a platter, conveying to her that he will now assume the responsibility of providing for her life.
The couple exchange garlands accepting each other as life partners. The bride’s father places her right hand in the right hand of the bridegroom, symbolically transferring the responsibility of taking care of his daughter, in holy matrimony. Then they are escorted to a room by their older relatives, who bless them. The guests too follow them and bless them with gifts.
A typical meal in Kerala Nair weddings known as sadya, which consists of 25 items, is served on plantain leaves. Rice, three varieties of pickle, curries and sweets, Avial, toran, olan, kalam, pacchari, payasam, pappads and finally the desert paladaaprathaman or chaka prathaman, form part of the elaborate meal.
POST NAIR WEDDING CEREMONY
GRIHAPRAVESH: At an appointed auspicious time, the bride proceeds to her new home. She takes the blessings of her parents and all elders present at the venue. As she reaches her new house, the women take ‘aarthi’ to cast off evil eye. The bride holds a traditional lamp in her hand and is asked to enter the house with her right foot. The entire house is bright with lamps lit all over the house, considered to be a good omen as the couple starts their life together. This Nair wedding ceremony is called ‘kudivep’. The in-laws give the bride jewels and gifts.
ART OF TRAVEL: www.shaktitrails.com