On Sunday, which was the wedding day, five married women gave a bath to the bride-to-be, which is called the Maṅgaḷa Snānaṃ, purifying and beautifying her on this special day. Before getting ready, some close relatives and friends played a traditional Telugu game, trying to put flour on everyone’s face, enjoying those last moments with the bride at home. She finally got dressed with the help of her mother and grandmother. Before leaving the house, Aarti (prayer) is done for the bride.
At the Mandiram (temple) where the wedding ceremony was going to be celebrated, along with all invitees, we were seated, patiently waiting for the couple. The groom arrived first with his close relatives, shortly followed by the bride dressed in traditional Telugu wedding saree. She had an elaborated hairstyle with natural flowers in her braid and jewelries on her arms, neck, and head. The couple exchanged flower garlands and the priest started the ceremony. I could see the bride’ s and the groom’s close relatives with beautifully decorated trays of gifts consisting of dresses, perfumes, sweets, and fruits. During the ceremony, the priest recited the mantras while the couple poured rice and ghee in the fire sealing their sacred marriage. The bride’s brother played an important part in his sister’s wedding, always standing nearby handing over necessary ingredients for the rituals and also acknowledging receipt of the gifts.
The couple circled the fire (the Saptapadi ritual of the seven steps) while taking their oaths of caring, protecting, understanding, loving, and guiding each other. After a moment, the groom tied the Maṅgaḷasūtra (a holy, yellow thread) around the bride’s neck which marked the sacred union of the couple. In the Telugu community, it is the groom’s sister who places a mindji (a toe ring) on the second toe of each foot of the bride symbolizing the marital status. They performed the Kanyadaan ceremony, that is the bride’s parents giving away their daughter by placing her hand onto the hand of her husband with a promise that he and his family will take care of their much-loved daughter. After the wedding ceremony at the temple and before going to the husband’s place, the couple first went to the bride’s mother’s place to eat kheer (sweetened rice). This food being quite symbolical as it is their first one together as a couple.
In Telugu community, the day after the wedding is called Ennallu. A group of youngsters from the bride’s side will go visit her in her new home for lunch. Now that the wedding is over non-vegetarians’ dishes will be served such as goat curry as well as other curries with offal meats. The atmosphere is fun and there are loads of entertainment as the couple are finally together. After lunch, the party who came will escort the newly wedded couple to the bride’ s parents’ home and, they will stay over until dinner time. After this, it will be only after one week that the bride will be allowed to visit her mother again.