Tuesday, March 5, 2024





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 marriages.

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.