The wedding day, 5th July
Let the family make all the arrangement,
For the day has come
after several months of engagement.
Let the Guests be welcomed,
Let the decorations be made,
For the day has come
when relations will upgrade.
Let the henna give its color,
Let the face be bright,
For the time has come
when he’ll be the groom and She, the bride.
Let the garlands be exchanged,
Let the music be played,
For the time has come
when promises will be made.
Let the holy fire be lit,
Let the mantras be chanted,
For it is the moment
when an eternal bond is formed.
Kashi Yatra. The Ram pretends that he is leaving for Kashi(Varanasi) renouncing the material life to become a sanyasi (saint). In order to cope with the arduous journey to Kashi, Ram sets off with his slippers, a bamboo fan, an umbrella and a spiritual book in hand. Before things get out of hand, my father stops and persuades him to take the responsibility of me, by marrying me and explains the importance of being a ‘Grihastha’ (family life). Ram instantly gives up his plans of sannyasa and heads his way for the wedding pandal where my family receives him.
Maalai Maatral (Exchange of garlands). Symbolizing our unification as one soul in two bodies, this inward acceptance is demonstrated by the exchange of garlands between me and Ram. The maternal uncles (or other machos!!) raise me and Ram respectively to their shoulder levels enabling for an easy exchange of garlands. However, there is no fun when things are too easy. To spice it up, both of us try and evade making it difficult to garland each other. We exchange the garlands thrice in this fun filled, frolic ceremony.
Oonjal. After the exciting exchange of garlands, we are made to sit in an oonjal (swing). Lots of songs are sung, and we both are served with paalum pazhamum ( the mixture of banana, milk, and sugar) by married women from both the families. The women also prepare rice balls with turmeric and circle them around us. The rice balls are thrown in all the four directions to ward off the evil spirits. Ram is then asked to hold my right hand and lead her to the marriage dais.
Kanyadaan. As we reach the dais, My father welcomes his son-in-law. I was made to sit on my father’s lap with a coconut in my hands. Thereafter, I and my father offer coconut to Ram. In the meantime, my mother puts water over the coconut. This gesture symbolizes the kanyadaanam of their daughter to the groom. The priest chants the mantras and dharba grass is placed on my head. My father recites the following verses: “With all beings in the world, with the five elements and all the celestial beings as my witness, I am giving my daughter to you for the good of your ancestors and the liberation of my ancestors”.
Mangalya Dharanam. I wear the Madisar or the ‘Koorai Pudavai’ and made to sit on my father’s lap facing eastward. The Ram faces westward and ties the mangalyam (a sacred yellow thread) around my neck. A total of 3 knots is tied. The first knot tied by Ram formalizes the union, the second and the third knot are tied by Ram’s sister, Janaki to symbolize the welcoming me into her family.
Married Indian women normally wear toe rings. A particular nerve from this connects the uterus and passes to heart. Thus, a toe ring on this toe strengthens the uterus, keeping it healthy by regulating the blood flow to it. Moreover, a woman’s menstrual cycle is said to be regularized. They are usually made of silver and worn in pairs on the second toe of both feet. Why Silver and Why Not gold? ‘Metti’ may not be made of gold, as gold holds a ‘respected’ status and may not be worn below the waist. Indians especially Hindus believe that gold is the metal of the God Lakshmi Devi, The Goddess of Wealth, and therefore it is considered inappropriate to wear gold below the waist.
Sapthapathi. We now hold hands and pray for their eternal happiness. Ram helps me to take the seven steps around the sacred fire and this ritual is called as Sapthapathi. This is the most important part of the marriage ceremony and only after the Sapthapathi we are ‘officially’ married.
1. We take the first step to provide for a happy and healthy home.
2. We take the second step to develop physical, mental and spiritual powers.
3. We take the third step to increase our wealth by diligence and righteousness.
4. We take the fourth to acquire knowledge, happiness, and harmony by mutual love and trust.
5. We take the fifth so that we are blessed with strong, virtuous and loving children.
6. We take the sixth to promise to care for each other for life long together.
7. Finally, we take the seventh step to be true companions and remain partners by this marriage.
Nalangu (Vilayadal). The evening of the marriage day is the time to relax and play. I call my husband and my family to play some games. The bride and the groom anoint each other. During these events, the ladies sing songs, making fun of us. These events bring out many qualities, of the bride and the groom – sporting spirit, kindness, strength, and co-operative nature.
The day after the wedding
Family and friends take leave. A multitude of friends and family from different countries gathered and cried tears of joy with us. They prayed with us and rejoiced with us.With this, the marriage festivities come to an end.
To everyone who was a part of our wedding: thank you.
To everyone who has been a part of this journey: thank you.
To everyone who stands with us as we begin the next great adventure: thank you.
I love every single one of you.