India – a land of diversity, is known for its traditions and cultures. Each tradition carries a set of customs and rituals. A wedding is one such event where you can witness the rituals and learn about its significance. Kerala tops the list when it comes to celebrating weddings and varied traditions. If you are going to attend an Ezhava wedding, you are lucky to learn all about customs associated with the marriage ceremonies in the Hindu community.
Even though the world has changed dramatically, wedding rituals have not changed that deeply defines its importance. Keeping that in mind, we give you the rituals of an Ezhava wedding so that you can see them and understand the meaning of them.
The Ezhava community is the largest Hindu community in Kerala and have their customs and traditions that play a predominant role in Kerala wedding ceremonies.
Like every Hindu marriage, Ezhava wedding too includes pre-wedding, wedding, and post-wedding rituals. This includes engagement, Mehendi, Kanyadaan, Bidhai, etc. Let’s dive into the details of how Ezhava wedding rituals are done.
A Nishchayam ceremony is held to mark the commencement of the wedding. It is considered as one of the most sacred beginnings and hence is given absolute importance. The bride and groom’s family exchange gifts under the guidance of elders and priests.
Also known as engagement, nowadays, a ring ceremony is conducted where the to-be-bride and to-be-groom exchange rings with the blessings of the priest and elders of the family.
Any ceremony in Hinduism begins with prayers to Lord Ganesha, to seek blessings from him and remove any obstacles. The wedding ceremony starts with the groom offering his prayers to Lord Almighty and seek blessings for a happy and prosperous marriage.
The bride worships the Goddess of Power in her home. Gauri pooja is conducted to eradicate any evil eyes and empower the bride to handle new responsibilities in her married life.
Once done, the family astrologer chooses an auspicious date and time for the wedding by checking the bride and groom’s horoscopes. This auspicious date and time are called Muhurtham.
Usually, Weddings are performed in early morning. The Muhurtham plays a vital role in the marriage. Hence, both the families consult a trustworthy astrologer for the same.
In the olden days, weddings were conducted in Ancestral homes. However, nowadays, it is held in temples, auditorium, or convention centres. The bride and groom arrive in the selected venue a day before, along with their family members. The rituals are conducted in the presence of the entire family, friends, and invitees.
A night before the wedding is festive as friends and family gather around to apply Mehendi on the bride’s hands and feet.
The wedding décor is done as per the bride and groom’s choice, but there are essential pooja vidhis that requires the setup of a Mandap i.e., stage. On the stage is where the bride and groom will perform the wedding rituals. An idol or image of Sree Narayana Gurudev is placed along with 3-5 Nilavilakku (the traditional Kerala lamp, coconut, flowers, and 7-11 Thaalam).
The Ezhava wedding rituals are religious and initiated by offering prayers to the Almighty to seek his blessings. The bridegroom and the families pray to Lord Ganesha and seek blessings.
As it is a grand affair, Ezhava weddings are celebrated well by the families. The family members welcome the relatives and invitees. So, it is vital to make them feel at ease while paying attention to everyone. When you attend the Ezhava wedding, you will realize how the people of this community respect everyone and consider the grandeur of the wedding.
The groom enters the Mandap and seeks blessings from everyone followed by the bride’s entry.
A thaalam (big metal plate) where areca nut flower, rose petals, marigold flower, Small para with Kasavu visari cloth (Handloom cloth with golden borders that resemble a Chinese fan), small vilakku (lamp) is given to the bridesmaids. The bridesmaids walk in procession as they escort the bride to the Mandap. It also consists of Ashtamanglayam Thatt, which consists of eight elements placed on the Thaalam or bronze vessel for the offering. These eight elements include rice, paddy, tailed mirror, sandalwood, Kumkum, kajal, granth (holy book), and clean cloth. The Ashtamangalyam symbolizes eight auspicious items for marriage.
After she seeks blessings from the guests, the priest chants Mantras and asks the groom to tie the Thali (Mangalsutra) on the bride’s neck. After the Thaalikettu, the father gives the hand of his daughter in the groom’s hand. The couple exchange Varmala (garlands) and everyone present at the wedding shower flower petals thus blessing the couple. The couple circles the holy Mandap as the priests chant the mantras, blessing the newlyweds with happiness and prosperity.
This simple yet beautiful wedding is then followed by a reception called Salkaaram.