Brahmin Iyer wedding – A grand spectacle comprising of 10 rituals

Weddings usually mark an air of pompous festive spirit and when it comes to South Indian marriages or Kalyanam, as referred to in Tamil, the importance is given more to strict rituals and customs to unite two hearts. Each and every ritual forms a unique, extravagant, splendid and a beautiful package which is worth taking a peek and this article unveils the 10 important customs that spans across the wedding, which I vouch, will definitely stand apart from the rituals of the other regional Indian weddings. Come on readers; allow me to quickly take you through an imaginary Iyer(subset of Tamil Brahmin) wedding that can indeed leave you speechless at the end of the two-day grandeur.
Vratham is a ceremony that kicks off the pre-wedding rituals. It is similar to taking a pledge to honor the commemoration. It is done by both the bride’s and bridegroom’s family independently. When a yellow thread is tied on the wrist of the couple it indicates that they should not leave the venue of the marriage except for a nearby temple, until all the sacred observances are complete.
This is a formal engagement ceremony that takes place in a temple close to the wedding venue. The groom enjoys all the respect from the bride’s side and is garlanded by his would-be brother-in-law.
Maapillai Azhaippu:
The groom gets to the venue with his acquaintances along with pompous music and dance in a decorated vehicle. This usually takes place in the late evening before the D-day. It is believed that the purpose of bringing the groom in a decorated vehicle is to ensure that the reputation of the groom can be duly verified by exposing him to the bride’s local community.

Kashi Yathra:
This is a ritual wherein the groom’s attire completely changes. He wears a dhothi in the form of ‘panchakacham’, a traditional dress, and is given an umbrella along with a walking stick. It is then when a short drama unveils. The groom tries to leave the mandap with mock anger, renouncing the world. The bride’s father consoles him by uttering certain mantras chanted by the priest and ushers him into the wedding hall, with due respect, to marry his daughter.
Maalai Maatral:
This is one of the most exciting and enjoyable events in the whole function. Garlands are exchanged in a very amusing fashion. The bride and the groom are lifted by their maternal uncles symbolizing the support from the respective families they possess. The dodging of the garlanding act, mocking and teasing the couple by the family members, all put together form a delightful spectacle.
The bride and the groom are made to sit on a decorated swing and are given milk and fruits amidst a lot of fun, frolic and singing. This is to symbolize that they should be united forever while facing the ups and downs of life. The act of performing aarti by the two elderly members of the family to ward off all evil eyes marks the end of this custom.
Kanyadhaanam and Mangalyadhaaranam:
This is the much awaited moment for everyone especially for the bride and the groom when the actual wedding takes place. The bride is made to sit on her father’s lap amidst loud chanting of mantras by the priest. She is presented a nine-yard sari by the groom’s side which she drapes around herself in a unique fashion for the first time in her life. She again sits on her father’s lap for the mangalsutra to be tied around her neck by the groom. With flowers thrown on the couple, the chanting of mantras by the priest and with loud Nadaswaram music to highlight the occasion of the couple unite together forever, taking the sacred marriage vows.
This is the time when the bride steps inside the groom’s house after a small arati has been taken by the groom’s mother.  
After the hectic rituals are over the couple get ready for some light-hearted moments. Rolling the coconut, breaking of papad over the couple’s heads and finding the ring in a pot are some popular games where the bride and the groom compete with one another amidst loud cheering.
Well! Thus the two-day celebrations come to an end with the couple starting afresh a life with blessings and greetings from all the near and dear ones. Did you stay glued to the article with all the listed unique customs and rituals? Hope they have left you spellbound! The next time you are invited to a South Indian Brahmin Iyer wedding, make sure not to miss the grand spectacle!