Kerala – a southern state of India is mainly known for it beautiful beaches, backwaters, stretches of lush greenery and the coconut groves, which add to its splendid beauty. The beauty and splendid aspect of nature has also extended in the lives of the people residing in this state. They observe every festive occasion or social customs very religiously and at the same time with great enthusiasm. Marriage ceremony in any part of the world is associated with harmony and happiness and wedding ceremonies observed at Keralite homes are no exception to that.
Population of the state of Kerala mainly comprise of the major three religions – Hindu, Muslim and Christian. Depending on the religion of the people, the customs and rituals of their marriage also differ. But it will be difficult to compare whether the fun and excitement associated with the marriage ceremonies surpasses one another!
In traditional Hindu families in Kerala, in the very initial stage parents exchange the horoscopes of the boy and the girl. If their horoscope matches then Pennu Kannal ceremony is arranged which is generally held at the girl’s house. In this ceremony the prospective groom and bride meet each other and they are introduced to each other’s family members and close relatives. It is during this ceremony the consent of both the boy and the girl regarding their matrimony alliance are taken. If both the families are willing for the alliance then through Nischayam the engagement ceremony is observed at the bride’s house. This ceremony is also associated with exchange of wedding rings. Here elders of both the families fix the date and auspicious time of marriage with an astrologer and formally announce it in presence of the invited relatives and friends.
Traditionally Hindu marriages in Kerala are observed in temples or wedding halls. During the ceremony vedic mantras are chanted. The Hindu marriage ritual gets complete after the groom ties the Thaali or Mangalsutra around the neck of the bride. The occasion when the new bride enters her husband’s house is termed as Grihapravesham which is held on an auspicious time of the day.
Wedding ceremony in Islamic communities is known as Nikah. The marriage rituals of Muslims are conducted by a priest known as the Maulvi who reads out certain verses from the Holy Quran during conducting the rituals of Nikah. In Muslim communities they believe Nikah can be arranged anytime and they do not fix any auspicious time for it. At the very initial stage family members of the prospective bride and groom meet and carry out necessary discussions. Once it is over, the boy and the girl are allowed to meet each other. If both of them agree for the alliance then a customary ritual known as Valayidal is observed where golden ornaments are gifted to the would be bride.
Later on the date of the Nikah is fixed between the members of the two families. Then members of the bride’s family visit the groom’s house to gift gold ornaments. On the day preceding the marriage, Mailanchi or ritual of Mehendi is observed at the girl’s house. The wedding ceremony is observed either in a mosque or at a marriage hall. A Nikah is complete after Ijab-e-Qubul or the process of proposal for marriage and its acceptance is followed.