Marriage Ceremony Nair Kerala

Nair Wedding Mandapam. Photo courtesy

Wedding ceremonies these days are taken straight out of films and in this networked world there is a bit of ritual (the basic ceremony) and lot of embellishments added to suit the wishes of the couple.


The marriage ceremony has moved out of courtyards of homes to temples, and now to large venues in star hotels and convention centers. But, there is no denying that there is an elegance and ritualistic austerity to a ceremony where the basic requirements are not deviated from, and the couple in all the finery adopt the Kerala ethnic couture.


The bride in her finery, decked up in traditional gold jewellery and draped in the simple yet typically rich Kerala kasavu sari in fine hand-woven handloom with gold border is piece de resistance.


Marriages still adhere to the practice of conducting the ceremony during an auspicious time, which is usually during the day time. The bridegroom and his side of the family arrive at the venue and are welcomed to the accompaniment of nadaswaram and percussion rendering popular compositions and in present times it could be a wedding number from a popular film! The younger brother of the bride washes his feet and he is led into the Mandapam (venue). The girl’s female relatives like aunt, married sisters with the nilavilakku – traditional lamp - escort the groom to the decorated mandapam where he takes up position to the right.


The same group of ladies now escort the bride into the mandapam. In some parts of the state the girl also holds a small oil lamp in hand. However, it is not a common thing these days, probably because of the risks involved. But, certain families still adhere to it. Once she is seated to the left of the groom it is time for the rituals to commence. Usually a person acceptable to both families steers the whole sequence of events. The first step is the exchange floral garlands, the order here also varies from locality to locality. In certain areas the boy is seated when the exchange of garlands takes place. An exchange of rings takes places after this. This is followed by the tying of the tali, the mangalsutra, by the boy around the girl’s neck. He then hands over two sarees symbolizing his role in the coming years.


The bride’s  father now holds the daughter’s right hand and places it in the groom’ s left hand – completing the act of kanyadaan. Now as man and wife the two take 7 rounds of the mandapam and take up positions to receive blessings of the elders.

This is the ceremony at the core, but nowadays you have the boy putting sindoor on the girl’s head, the boy receiving a gold chain and many other little practices absorbed from other Indian weddings. After all this once in a lifetime event must remain etched in memory and people work hard to make this a memorable one.

Author writes on cinema, Kerala art and culture and is a bi-lingual translator.

Photo courtesy and copyright 


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