Marriages are generally contracted within the caste and
there is no unfettered freedom for the boy and the girl. Post independence
trends of social change have led to a few inter-caste and inter religious
Cross-cousin marriage is widely prevalent in Tamil Nadu. Marriage
of an adult to his sister's daughter is common in some
castes, while it is a taboo among others. No marriage can
take place among the people belonging to the same gotra or having
the same ancestors. Communities like the Maravas, the Yadhavas and
the Nadars have exogamous group called Kilai which runs on the female
line. It is passed on from mother to daughter. In these castes no one
can marry a girl of the same Kilai. The preferred marriageable relationship
are aunt's daughter or the maternal uncle's daughter. There are traditions
in each caste, who should initiate the talks for a marriage, the bride's
family or the grooms.
'Thai' (January), the post-harvest month is an
important marriage season. "Thai piranthal vazhi pirakkum"
(with the coming of the thai month a way will be open) is a repeated saying
by eligible bachelors longing to get married. Adi and Margazhi months
are observed as prohibited months for marriages.
The marriages are held only at the brides house, in the
case of the Mukkulathars, the Nadars, the Chakkilians, while in some other
castes, the celebrations take place at the groom's residence.
The bridegroom's party proceeds to the brides house in
a ceremonial procession, carrying turmeric, coconuts, plantains,
betel leaves, flowers, dry fruits, saree for the bride and other articles
with the thali and a thread dyed yellow with turmeric. The
marriage canopy is erected. The canopy is a temporary thatched super structure
using coconut leaves knit together.
Under the canopy, a marriage platform is erected.
On the platform until the marriage is solemnised, the bride sits to right
of the groom. The thali is kept in a plate, circulated among the assembled
guests and their blessings sought. The groom's sister assist the groom
in tying the thali around the bride's neck. Three knots are supposed to
be made. At this juncture conch shells are blown and nadaswaram is played
in a high-pitch. After the ceremony, i.e., the tying of the thali
by the groom, she sits at the groom's left. Both of them face east.
Coconuts are broken and prayers are offered to the gods.
The peculiar custom amongst the Thevars and
Ahmudiyars is the 'Kulavaiyidal'. It consists of women
folk assembled at the marriage, raising some kind of a shrill voice which
is known as kulavai.
Flowers and coloured rice are thrown on the heads of
the bridal pair. The couple exchange their garlands and the groom
then takes the right hand of the bride and goes around the sacred fire
or bridal platform thrice. After wards, the bridal pair prostrate before
the parents of both groom and bride and all elders assembled. Everyone
bless the pair to have good progeny and long life.
Several castes engages Brahmin priest to officiate at
wedding. Nadars and Kongu vellalas engage their own elderly men
to officiate as priests.