Written by M. Subalakshmi, translated from Tamil by Nisha Felicita
Weddings are a special occasion whose rituals are unique in every community of the world. In India itself, we can find thousands of different traditions and customs, behind which there are a variety of reasons and explanations. In our village in Tamil Nadu, weddings are a time when everyone comes together to help the family where the wedding is taking place.
In my Kadar tribal community, whenever a marriage is being arranged, the elders of the tribe first ask the prospective bride and groom for their willingness to marry each other. After the bride and groom give their consent, the elders of the families discuss and decide the appropriate date for the wedding. The arrangements and decorations for the house usually start two weeks before the date of the wedding.
A beautiful mandap is built where the wedding will take place. For this wedding, a mandap was built with bamboo depicting two birds on top of the entrance. The birds symbolise the union of two people and their families.
The day before the wedding, after the decorations have been completed, the bride and groom will go to the matrimonial altar (mandap) in the marriage hall and make a small, temporary elevated seat made of clay or mud to sit on. The parents of the bride and groom decide on an auspicious time, and the engagement takes place, where the bride and groom exchange rings.
The uncle of the groom will tie a blessed thread to a piece of wild turmeric and betel leaf, and the aunt of the bride will tie this thread to the bride’s wrist. Then, the effect of the “evil eye” is removed (Hindi: नज़र उतारना) for the bride at the groom’s house, and for the groom at the bride’s house.
On the morning of the wedding, the bride and groom are dressed in their wedding attire and are taken to the wedding venue, where the groom is asked to sit on the temporary clay/mud seat for the wedding. A few matrimonial mantras are recited, and the bride is also asked to sit on the clay/mud seat. Then the wedding takes place, in which the groom is given the holy thread to tie around the bride’s neck.
Such is the process and the rituals of a traditional Kadar wedding. How does a wedding look like in your community?
This article is created as a part of the Adivasi Awaaz project, with the support of Misereor and Prayog Samaj Sevi Sanstha.
About the author: Subalakshmi hails from the Villoni Nedugundram settlement, near Valparai district. She belongs to the Kadar community. She’s finished her Bachelor’s degree in Commerce. Being a nature lover, she hikes and does a lot of nature-watching. She also loves to spend her free time teaching dance to the children of her community.