Hindu Nair Marriages in Kerala

This is a brief description of marriage ceremonies followed by the hindu Nair community in Kerala.

Hindu marriages in Kerala , nowadays, have changed a lot from the marriage proceedings of earlier times. It is one amonst the simplest marriage ceremony within India. A Kerala marriage typically involves nirapara, nilavilakku, thalam pidikkal, thalikettu and podava kodukkal. In olden days the thalikettu usually was done in a temple. Although this custom is still being followed, many have shifted this ritual to a large hall where all the relatives and friends are invited for the ceremony and a lunch is followed. Arranging this function is the responsibility of the bride's family.

Typically in kerala, marriages are fixed according to the astrology where the horoscopes of both the bride and the bridegroom are checked to see if they are matched. Once the stars are matching, they fix a date for the wedding which is auspicious for the ceremony. The "thalikettu" is done during this auspicious time given by the astrologer called "muhurtham". The thalikettu is the tying of the nuptial knot. On the day of marriage the bridegroom is received by the bride's family and usually the bride's brother receives him with a bouquet and also helps him wash his legs by pouring water from a vessel. The mother in law showers raw-rice mixed with thulasi leaves while a nilavilakku is held by the wife of the elder brother of the bride's father. The bridegroom and his family are then led to the stage where the bridegroom is seated.

The stage is usually decorated with flowers. Nowadays this has been replaced with very advanced stage decorations. The stage is set with the "nirapara" with flowering coconut bunch, three traditional Kerala Nilavilakku, betel nut, areca-nut, tender coconut, burning incense sticks, camphor, sandal paste etc. Then the bride is brought to the stage by a line of girls holding "thalam" and seated next to the bridegroom. The girl usually wears the traditional silk saree and gold ornaments. The bridegroom wears the dhoti and a white or cream shirt. Then the thali is tied around the neck of the bride by the bridegroom which is usually a golden chain or a yellow thread with the thali. The yellow thread is later replaced by gold chain during an auspicious time. During thalikettu, "nadaswaram", a mixed band of kerala musical instruments is played in the background. The bridegroom also puts "sindooram" on her forehead. Then the bride and the bridegroom are adorned with flower garlands and bouquet.

The bride and the bridegroom, then takes three circles round the mandapam, the bridegroom holding the bride's hands. The Bride is also gifted with a set of two sarees called "podava" by the bridegrooms family. After this, the bride and the bridegroom takes blessings from the bride's and the bridegroom's parents. They are also served with a spoon of milk and banana by both the parents. This ends the marriage ceremony. Then the bride and the bridegroom are made to sit in the two royal chairs provided on the stage where the guests come and give their blessings and wishes. These days this is an elaborate procedure where each guest is asked to stand and take photos with the new couple. The others then procced to the hall where lunch is provided.

Before the couple proceeds for lunch, the bride changes her saree to the one provided by the bridegroom as podava. After lunch, the girl bids farewell to her parents and family and then they go the bridegroom's house. They usually leave to their house in their car which is usually decorated with flowers. At the bridegroom's house, the bride is welcomed by her mother in law with a lighted lamp called "nilavilakku". Flowers and chandanam are applied on the couple's foreheads. Then the mother in law hands over the "nilavilakku" to the bride who then enters the house holding it taking care that she enters with her right leg first and without spilling the oil from the lighted lamp. Later, the couple is made to sit and all close by relatives serve them with a spoon of milk and banana.

This is a brief description of hindu marriages of Nair community held in Kerala. These days, many modifications are brought to the wedding. Some families celebrate in great pomp and show. Also, many are adopting north indian customs of putting mehendi, wearing north indian clothes etc.


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