On 22nd of April 2019, FSL-India Kundapur organised a Cultural Event for 2 LTV volunteers. Every month, we organise a cultural event for our regular volunteers and we take them to any cultural and historical places which are located in and around Kundapur. This month, the Cultural Event was mainly focused on an Indian Marriage.
LTV Coordinator Dinesh’s friend named Bharath was getting married, so he invited FSL-India’s volunteers to his marriage. First, we all met at Kundapura bus station and had a small meeting about marriage customs and buying a gift for the groom. Then, we traveled towards the marriage hall named Sri Narayana Guru Kalyana Mantapa, which is a very old marriage hall in Kundapura. After that, the volunteers witnessed all the traditional Hindu marriage customs.
There is a tradition which is imperative and is held at the bride’s house a day before the wedding. In this ceremony, only the parents of the groom and the relatives of the bride are invited. After the Madarangi (Mehendi) ceremony, the radiant looking bride comes to pray to the sacred tulsi plant which symbolises the Goddess Lakshmi. The bride is then made to sit on a beautifully festooned chair facing east. For completing the tradition, a silver plate is filled with raw rice mixed thoroughly with kumkum (vermilion powder) and haldi (turmeric), and a coconut is placed on them, which symbolises the presence of Lord Ganapathi.
After this, a tall wick lamp is lit, which is adorned with jasmine flowers. Then, all the women present in the ceremony and wearing red and green bangles glass bangles, come forward near the bride. The eldest married woman, known as ‘Sumangali’, starts the ceremony by putting a toe ring on the bride’s second toe. Then, the other Sumangalis put red and green bangles in the bride’s hands in a sequence and also put jasmine flowers in her hair. The bride is also made to wear one black bangle to remove any drishti or evil eye effect. Since the bride is considered the Lakshmi in the house, the ceremony is ended by doing an aarthi of the bride.
With aarthi, the actual wedding ceremonies begin. As the bride enters the wedding hall, half an hour before the dhare, she is welcomed by her sister-in-law, who lets her in after washing the feet of the bride. As the bride comes in, the Sumangalis present in the ceremony and the bride’s aunt do the aarthi and put haldi and kumkum on her.
The mantap, where the wedding ceremonies takes place is decorated with jasmine flowers, mango leaves and arecanut. The bride’s sister-in-law takes her to the mantap and lets her sit on the right side. The bride is welcomed in the mantap with trumpet music and the same procedure is followed for welcoming the groom also. The brother of the bride washes the groom’s feet and takes him to mantap making him seat on the left side next to the bride. The groom’s family and mother give haldi-kumkum, poov sere (sari and flowers) and wedding jewellery to the bride.
To begin this ceremony, the bride’s parents fill a brass vessel with water and take it to all the elders hailing from both the families to seek their blessings. Then the ritual known as ‘Dhare’ or ‘Kanyadaan’ begins. ‘Nanya’, an antique gold coin is placed on the palm of the bride underneath which the groom places his hands. The bride’s parents start pouring water onto the hands of the couple from the brass vessel that was blessed by all the elders of the family. The FSL-India coordinator and volunteers went to the stage, wished the couple and gave them a gift.
After this, the groom is required to put a “Mangalsutra” on the bride’s neck which has been blessed by 5 Sumangalis. After this, the groom places the wedding ring on the right ring finger of the bride. Similarly, bride slips a gold ring onto the groom’s finger. Then, the couple holds the ‘chombu’ (the vessel), sits down and rises swiftly 3 times. This ritual is known as “Dhareyeruna”. In this ritual, a brahmin lights up a scared fire known as ‘Homa’ in the midst of vedic chants. The bride’s brother gives a fistful of puffed rice in the hands of the couple, which they offer to the sacred fire each time they take a ‘Fera’ (go around the sacred fire). Everyone present in the ceremony takes the raw rice mixed with kumkum and haldi and gives their blessings to the couple. The Sumangalis perform the aarthi and put kumkum-haldi on the couple. All the elders then bless the couple as the wedding ceremonies get over. Afterwards, we moved to have lunch, which was prepared in the temple. All the volunteers were very surprised because they served food in big banana leaves and also, so many varieties of food, as well as a sweet.
The volunteers said it was worthwhile program from FSL-India. As volunteers they were looking forward to have a new cultural experience. The volunteers said the enjoyed the function and learnt about Indian tradition.
Orane, France : This is the first wedding I attended. It was a really interesting and nice experience. As expected, the traditions are really different from France (except for the rice). And weddings are part of the culture, so I am really glad that I had the chance to see all the rituals during the ceremony with the groom and the bride. After the ceremony, I also enjoyed the delicious food served on the banana leaf.
Hanan, Sweden:Today’s cultural event was surely interesting and different from any other wedding I have attended to. It was a super nice atmosphere and also nice to see so many people all together. I have to say that after being in India for almost 5 months, you never get used to all the colourful places and clothes, and you always get amazed by it. In today’s wedding, all the women were wearing very beautiful saris with many different colours. Even the bride and the groom were also wearing breathtaking costumes. You never experience these colourful dresses and saris in European weddings. For that reason, I think it’s so cool to experience this and to participate in it.
Jesus, Spain: Very interesting experience. We discovered how it is have an Indian wedding in the best way… living it! Traditions, rituals, celebrations… so interesting and very nice Indian culture immersion!