In Kerala weddings, Nair wedding is the simplest of all wedding ceremonies. A traditional Nair wedding is conducted in a nearby temple or a Kalayana Mantapa. Sometimes marriages are conducted in Guruvayur Temple, which is considered as very auspicious and a Hindu marriage ceremony there is very very simple. Shopping for Kerala wedding dresses takes a long time.
Pre- Kerala Wedding Rituals
Nischayam - Once the groom is chosen, the elders of both the families decide about engagement known as "Nischayam". They seek the help of Astrologer for an auspicious date and time called "Muhurtham". A function is arranged for this announcement of marriage, during which the wedding rings are exchanged. (If this cannot be done during this function, it can be done at the wedding time.) Immediately after a Hindu marriage ceremony, food is served to the guests.
Ayana (Prenuptial blessing of the bride) - A function is held at the bride's residence on the previous day of the wedding where the bride takes the blessings of her elders. Her close family members and friends are invited for this function, and a grand feast is arranged for them. In the same way, in the groom's house too, such a function is arranged, for his relatives and friends.
Marriage ceremony in a Kerala Wedding - Marriages are conducted either in the temple or in the Kalyana Mantapa of the wedding hall. Both the bride and the groom, with their parents and relatives arrive at the venue, separately. If it is in the temple, the priest performs the marriage in a very simple way. In a kalyana mantapa, the bride groom is received ceremoniously, and made to sit in a wooden plank on the right side of the canopy, which is decorated with flowers, fabric, palm fronds and banana stalks. The bride is escorted by her aunt to the mantapam, and made her sit next to the groom, amidst the special music of the 'nadaswaram' and the 'thakil' for the marriage ceremony.
At the auspicious moment, the family priest performs the nuptial ceremony by chanting vedic mantras and the couple walks around the agni, the fire God thrice, after which the groom ties the 'Mangalsutra' or 'tali' around the neck of the bride to the beating of drums. This ritual is called Talikettu.The wedding rings are exchanged if it was not done on the "Nischayam day".
Below Nischaya ceremony and right - Newly engaged couple in the traditional dress.
The bridegroom gifts the bride a sari and a blouse on a platter, conveying to her that he will now assume the responsibility of providing for her life. This ritual is called Pudamuri. The couple exchange garlands accepting each other as life partners. The bride's father places her right hand in the right hand of the bridegroom, symbolically transferring the responsibility of taking care of his daughter, in holy matrimony. This ritual is called Kanyadan. Then they are escorted to a room by their older relatives, who bless them. The guests too follow them and bless them with gifts.
After witnessing the Kerala wedding rituals, the guests are requested to have food. Sadhya or typical Kerala meal including rice, three varieties of pickle, curries and sweets, Sambhar, Avial, toran, olan, kalan, pacchadi, payasam, pappads is served on plantain leaves to the guests along with payasam like paladaaprathaman or chaka prathaman as a dessert. The newly wedded couple,after receiving and taking the blessings of all the relatives and friends, too join them, along with their parents and close relatives.
Post Kerala wedding Rituals - Once the guests are disbursed, the bridegroom takes his wife,with his parents and family members to his house. This ceremony is called Kudivepu or Gruhapravesha. This is the bride's first visit to her husband's house and she is expected to wear the sari gifted by her husband at the wedding time. She will be welcomed to her husband's house ceremoniously at the auspicious moment, by performing 'aarthi' with a typical Kerala metal lamp. The newly wedded couple enter the house with right foot forward. The bride is required to kick over a large measure of rice, symbolizing prosperity in her new home.