Sunday, March 26, 2023


Rituals to Remember ' Sumangalis'

If death has came to a married women (Sumangalis), while her husband was living, she is generally remembered  by ritual  and ceremonies. There is an  interesting custom  among  the Chettiars of Chettinad.

The 'padaippu' is a re-union of kith and kin of the dead person  for the purpose of prayer and offering of  food  to the departed  ancestor. The 'padaippu'  is a ceremony held  to appease the spirit of the women  who died before her husband  and to keep off evil spirits. After her death, her children  are left to her husband's care and the husband gets remarried. The children of the first wife  may not be properly treated by the second wife. As a precaution against such possibility, women  who died before their husband's are treated as part  of the family deity and are worshipped. Certain families maintain  a room in their ancestral homes for padaippu ceremony. This room or chapel has the sanctity of the sanctum  sanctorum.

There is no fixed day for this worship. Any time of the year suitable to the chief devotee is chosen. He may perform the ceremony either on the eve of a marriage in his family, or the morrow of initiating a new business venture or before a voyage abroad. The deceased women's dress is washed and placed before the photo or oil painting, items of food which she relished are prepared with meticulous care and spread out lavishly in large leaves in front of her portrait. The jewels of the departed woman are also kept intact and displayed on the occasion. It is the prayer of every participant woman member that she too may be lucky to die before her husband and to avoid the sufferings of widowhood that she also may be worshipped as part of the family deity.