A traditional Telegu Arya Vysya Wedding
Most commonly found in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Orissa, the Telegu Arya Vysya community are primarily considered a business class community. Old traditions are followed strictly in the community, and most marriages take place according to the wishes of the parents of the bride and groom. The Telegu Arya Vysyas prefer to marry among close relatives, preferably cousins, but this has changed significantly in the past few decades, where the newer generation has become more vocal about who they wish to marry. Their weddings are a very lively affair, stretching as long as seven days as the entirety of the families of the bride and groom come together to celebrate the marriage through a series of rituals and ceremonies.
A cleansing ceremony called
Pendlikoothuru is performed a few days before the marriage and is attended by a number of close relatives. Oil and turmeric are smeared onto the skin of the bride and groom first, and then they are required to take a ceremonial bath. Following the bath, they wear new clothes, which in the case of the bride, is usually a sari, while for the groom it is a dhoti. The bride also wears flowers in her hair. A large number of married women are in attendance at the event and they invite the bride-to-be to join their group and become a married woman as well.
Rituals like the Kashi Yatra make the Telegu Aya Vysya wedding unique and quirky. Following the thread ceremony, known as Snathakam, the prospective groom denounces worldly possessions, and announces to all in attendance that he is no longer interested in material things and he is moving to Kashi to live the life of an ascetic. The brother of the bride must now stop him from leaving for Kashi, and he does so by enticing him to stay by agreeing to let him marry his sister.
Before the main wedding rituals begin, Aarti is performed to secure the blessings of the gods. Oil is applied to the bride and the groom first, and then an Aarti ceremony is performed for them, where the person holding the ceremonial fire, walks around them and prays to the Gods that the young couple may have the best of luck for the rest of their lives.
A special mandap is prepared for the wedding ceremony, and the bride is escorted to this altar by her maternal uncle, or mama, in a bamboo basket which he carries all the way to the mandap. Dressed in a traditional bright sari and covered with jewels, the bride is placed next to the groom, but a partition is put up first. This partition stays up until the ceremony is over and prevents the future couple from seeing each other until the wedding is officially completed. Once the kanya daan is complete and the father of the bride has handed over her daughter to the groom, he then washes the feet of the groom in an elaborate ceremony. The groom ties a mangalsutra around the neck of the bride, who is now his wife, in a special three knot style that is customary in a Telegu Arya Vysya wedding. After the mangalsutra has been tied, the family members assembled around the mandap shower the couple with a mixture of flower petals and turmeric coloured rice while the couple exchange garlands thus bringing the wedding rituals to an end.
The Griha Pravesh, which literally means entry into the home, is a ceremony conducted when the groom brings his wife to his home for the first time. Family members assemble to welcome the bride and amidst joyous celebration, she takes her first steps into her new home. Special Aarti ceremonies and joyous celebrations make it a grand event for the bride who is welcomed by her new family, into her new home, with as much joy and celebrations as possible.
After the bride has completed 16 days in her new home, the two mangalsutras are combined and woven together by an elder family member, or the groom himself, using a common thread. The gold plates of the two mangalsutras are separated by a few black and gold beads, ensuring that they do not rub or scratch against each other. The union of the two mangalsutras is done to ensure harmonious relations between the two families. Another tradition, which, though uncommon, is still practiced by a number of Telegu Arya Vysyas, involves a special paste made from jaggery, and cumin seeds. This paste is applied on the hands of the bride and the groom by each other and serves as a ceremonial and symbolic gesture that the two of them have now come together, and that their fates are now united.