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Three Beautiful Tamil Hindu Weddings

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Three Beautiful Tamil Hindu Weddings
Tamil Actress Sneha on her wedding day

By London swaminathan

How did the ancient Tamil Hindus celebrate their weddings? There are three beautiful wedding scenes in Tamil literature: Akananauru, Silappadikaram and Divyaprabandham.

Two thousand year old Sangam Tamil literature describes Tamil Hindu weddings in two beautiful verses in Akananauru (verses 86 and 136). The poets bring the wedding ceremony in front of our eyes. Anyone who reads those poems can visualise that day. It is like a live running commentary.
In the first verse (86), poet Nallavur Kizar describes the food and the dress. There was a huge heap of rice cooked with black gram (Pongal). There was a wooden shed (pandal) with fresh sand from the river banks spread. Since they believed in astrology and auspicious days ,it was celebrated on the day when Rohini star was with the moon. Since they were orthodox Hindus they lighted lamps even though it was celebrated in the day time. Bridegroom and bride were adorned with flower garlands. Some women were carrying the pots on their head, others bearing new, broad bowls, handed them one after another, while fair elderly dames were making noise. Mothers of sons, with bellies marked with beauty spots, wearing beautiful ornaments, poured water on the bride, so that her black hair shone bright with cool petals of flowers and rice grains (probably yellow rice called Akshatai). They blessed her saying ,’do not swerve from the path of chastity, be serviceable in various ways to your husband who loves you and live with him as his wife. They greeted her ‘Dirgha Sumangali Bhava: in Tamil-- Per Il Kizaththi Aguka’--.On the night after the marriage ceremony was over, the neighbouring ladies assembled and sent her to the arms of her lover, to which she went with trepidation ( This is the Shanti Muhurtham alias First Night).

In another verse136, poet Vitrutru Mutheyinanar says, white rice well cooked with plenty of ghee was served generously to the elders. Since Tamils believed in astrology, the poet remarks, the omens shown by the birds were propitious. It was a bright morning. The moon was in faultless conjunction with the Rohini star. The marriage house was decorated. They worshiped God. The big drums sounded with wedding tunes. Excited women were peeping without a wink with their flower like eyes at the bride who had been bathed. The image (to be worshiped) was made of big flower petals. Clear like a gem that has been well washed, was placed on the soft Vagai flower with the double leaf and the Arukam grass. It was decked with cool, sweet flower buds and white thread clothed with holy cloth, so as to look grand. The bride was seated on the fresh sand under the Pandal ( A thatched shed made over a row of wooden poles). The bride was perspiring with loads of ornaments. They fanned her to dry the wet.( I have used the translations given in History of the Tamils by PT Srinivasa Iyengar).


Picture shows Soundarya Rajinikant’s wedding

Though tying the knot (Thaali=sacred yellow thread around the neck of the bride) is not mentioned a few other verses hint at it. But no priests, no fire ceremony or no circumambulation of the sacred Fire were mentioned. One can understand it when one understands the caste differences that existed in those days. Since the Tamil epic Silapadikaram mentions the fire ceremony etc we can’t conclude it was never done. Most of the scholars put Silappadikaram event in the Sangam age. But the writing of the epic was dated between 3[SUP]rd[/SUP] century and 7[SUP]th[/SUP] century.

What is very clear in the above two Sangam Tamil verses is the Tamils believed in God and astrology. They used lot of vegetarian food and flowers during weddings. Ornaments and decorations, respect for elders are all like modern day weddings. The bride wore a thread (protective Kaappu) and new dress after a shower.

(In part 2 Wedding Scenes of Kannaki and Andal are discussed).
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