She gracefully adjusted her saree while descending the stairs and sat on the stage where everyone could see her. I was at my friend’s place, attending her pre-wedding event. Beautifully dressed, she welcomed us to eat the traditional 7 carri & ti puri (seven variety of vegetables curries served on banana leaves). I could see in the yard, a bamboo pole, with a white handkerchief marked with vermilion and turmeric tied at the top. It was the first ritual, called Paadal kaal muhurtham and it was placed a few days ago by some married aunties, to remove obstacles during this important event.
Early on the wedding day, there was the cleansing ritual. Indeed, in Tamil tradition, saffran (as we call it here) is done early morning before sunrise. Both bride and groom at their respective house, will have turmeric paste applied on their skin by married women, who will be given a small traditional gift consisting of a mirror, a comb, a sweet, Kumkum powder (dried turmeric with slaked lime, turning the rich yellow red), turmeric powder and a flower. This ceremony mainly symbolizes a cleansing and purification ritual. Next to the bride was a tray with the turmeric paste, Kumkum powder, flowers, and rice for the rituals. Also on the tray, there was a few biscuits and lilac leaves which were important for the ritual. Fully dressed and seated in the middle of the yard, turmeric water was then poured over the head of the bride by her brothers and uncles using a kind of filter with tiny holes, making the liquid fall over like rain droplets.
Shortly afterwards, the bride withdrew herself to take a bath and get dressed. No one has the right to touch or kiss her after the purification rituals. Meanwhile, the few guests who were at her house were welcome for tea and cakes since it was early morning. A few hours later, sitting on the edge of my chair, I was eagerly waiting among the guests in the temple (known as Kovil). It seemed that everyone held their breath as the bride walked in the temple beautifully dressed in her south Indian style saree given by her parents. The ceremony was about to start.
Stay tuned for more about my friend’ s Tamil wedding.