Avanti + Sunil

A Traditional South Indian Wedding Ceremony

Over the span of 12 hours, we at Seven Ivory Brides got to become a part of the two family’s magical journey of becoming one. A very traditional South Indian Wedding that integrated wedding customs from Telugu and Tamil traditions. Through this post, we are explaining the meaning of each of the customs that were followed at this beautiful wedding of Avanti Jangalapalli and Sunil Sadasivan.

Seven Ivory Brides - Traditional South Indian Wedding

Maṅgaḷa Snānaṃ: The wedding day started with a sacred bath. As a part of Maṅgaḷa Snānaṃ custom, the bride and groom are required to take an auspicious bath on the wedding day. The aim is to purify them and make them prepared to perform sacred rites. This bath is called Abhyangana Snānam

Bridal Makeup: In this ceremony at the bride and grooms’ respective houses, all the relatives and well-wishers gather and they smear them with turmeric paste and oil. This is done to cleanse their skin, so that a natural glow is radiated after they bathe.

Aarti or HāratiOil is applied to the bride and groom at their respective houses. Thereafter, the family members get together to perform Aarti. They pray for the bride and groom to be granted the wisdom to lead their life happily.

Ganēśa and Gauri Pūja : Before the wedding ceremony, the groom attends the Ganesha and Gowri pooja, which is conducted at the maṇḍapaṃ and the bride does the Gauri Pūja at the house with all her family members and relatives attending before going to the ceremony. It is during this time that “Pravara” a ritual of changing Bride’s Gotram from her paternal Gotram to the Groom’s Gotram, is performed. Elderly couples from both families are required to attend and witness the “Pravara” while the bride is performing Gauri Pūja.

Kashi Yatra: The groom is dressed in the traditional “Panchakatcham” veshti. He also holds an umbrella, a fan, a walking stick, and a towel containing dhal and rice tied to his shoulder. He then sets off on a mock pilgrimage to pursue further religious studies, and renounce worldly pursuits. As he steps out of the wedding hall, the bride’s father intervenes and advocates for the superiority of married life to an ascetic life. He also promises to give his daughter as companion to face the challenges of life. The groom accepts and returns to the mandapam to get married. The umbrella is to remain with the groom, to remind him in the future of this advice.

Bride’s Entrance and Kanyādānaṃ : With the Kanyadanam, the official wedding ceremony begins.  It is during this time that the bride’s parents symbolize the transfer of responsibility over their daughter’s well-being to the groom.  In the Telugu tradition, as a sign of respect and honor, the bride’s parents wash the groom’s feet.

The bride is actually carried to the altar in a bamboo basket by her uncles.  During this part of the ceremony, the bride and groom are separated by a curtain that is place between them, as a partition. On the day of wedding the bride groom is considered as “Lord Vishnu Svarūpaṃ” or incarnation of lord Vishnu who has come to marry their daughter who is considered as “Devi Lakshmi”. The groom is made to chant “Dharmēca Arthēca Kamēcha Mokshēca Nāti Carāmi” three times and give Bride’s father assurance three times that the bridegroom shall remain forever her companion in joy and sorrow.

Paṇigrahaṇaṃ : This means “holding hands”. The groom holds the hand of the bride. The Mantras say: The Devas have offered you to me in order that I may live the life of a householder (Gruhasta); we shall not part from each other.

Jīlakarra Bellaṃ : The priest recites the ślokaṃs from the Vedaas and the couple is asked to place a paste made from cumin seeds and jaggery on each other’s head. This custom is referred to as Jīlakarra-Bellamu. This ceremony is observed to communicate that the relationship of the married couple is unbreakable and inseparable.

Sumangaḷi : Ten married women (Sumangaḷi) accompany the bride. Six out of the ten women hold plates containing sacred rice (a mixture of rice and turmeric powder), while the rest of the four hold small lit lamps on their respective plates. Rice represents abundance, while the lit lamps symbolize light.

 Maṅgaḷasūtra Dhāraṇa: During Maṅgaḷasūtra Dhāraṇa means tying Maṅgaḷasūtraṃ. The groom ties the two strings of the Maṅgaḷasūtraṃ, each with a golden disc, around the bride’s neck. The Maṅgaḷasūtraṃ represents the physical, mental and spiritual union of the couple. In the Telugu wedding, the groom ties three knots of Maṅgaḷasūtraṃ.

Akshitalu : In the Akshitalu or Talaṃbrālu ceremony, the bride and groom exchange garlands. Married people witnessing this occasion come forward to bless the couple, by sprinkling flower petals and rice coated with turmeric powder.

 Saptapadi  : As a part of the Saptapadi rituals, the groom and bride walk seven steps together around the fire, while taking their oaths of caring, protecting, and understanding, loving and guiding each other. During this the pallu (edge of the sari) of the bride’s sari is tied to one end of the groom’s scarf (Kanḍuva).

 Sthālīpākaṃ: Sthālīpākaṃ is a ritual where in the groom adorns the feet of the bride with silver toe rings. This also is believed that the man bends to the woman in order to claim her as his. Also in order to ward-off the evil eye, the bride is adorned by a string of black beads during the ceremony. These beads along with the silver toe rings symbolize that she is a married woman.

Appagintalu : Appagintalu take place right at the end of the wedding. This is when the bride is traditionally handed off to the groom and his family


Content courtesy: Wedding articles

Photo credits: Mohaimen Kazi Photography

Wedding Coordinator: Seven Ivory Brides Event Planning