Source Udays Photography
There are weddings, then there are South Indian weddings. They're traditional and ritual driven yet grandiose and absolutely elegant! However, just like the North, South India has a myriad of cultures in every state and each culture's traditions and rituals vary from one another. And today, we're going to talk about the exuberant Andhra Reddy Weddings!
Reddy wedding rituals are colourfully divine, with a dhoti-clad groom and a silk-adorned bride. The fragrance of delicious delicacies wafts through the air as the families and friends of the bride and groom gather for a fantastical experience. Reddy weddings are flourished with each element of celebrating joy, relationships, togetherness, colours, rituals, and love!
To help you understand a little better about Reddy wedding rituals and how they play out during a wedding celebration, here's a quaint yet detailed guide. Scroll down and learn all about the beauty of Reddy Wedding Rituals!
Reddy Wedding Rituals
Source Stories by Joseph Radhik
Among all the beautiful big fat Indian weddings, Reddy weddings are exceptionally opulent and fun-filled. In fact, some of the most expensive weddings in the world include certain Reddy weddings of business tycoons from the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. A traditional Reddy wedding represents the South Indian culture and some important ceremonies. It signifies spirituality, peace and love and the ceremonies are interestingly quite different from other weddings. Here is a glimpse of some of these fascinating, colourful and spiritual ceremonies which take place during a traditional Reddy wedding:
1. Patrika & Nischithardham/Muhurtham
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An Andhra Reddy wedding ritual ceremony begins with the exchange of a traditional contract, the Patrika. This exchange happens in the presence of a priest between the father of the bride and the groom. Furthermore, the contract signifies that both families are willing and happy with this alliance.
Following the Patrika ritual, both families meet to finalise an auspicious date for the wedding. The pandit responsible for the wedding matches the bride and groom's horoscopes and finalised the wedding date accordingly. The ceremony ends with the lighting of a beautiful brass lamp called 'Nila Villaku' following which the couple exchange rings. After the wedding date is finalised, the bride is blessed by her future-in-laws with gifts such as clothes, silverware and jewellery.
2. Pendlikoothuru/Paindlipilla or Haldipaspu
Source The Wedding Story
The Pendlikoothuru/Paindlipilla or Haldipaspu is very similar to the Haldi ceremony of North Indian weddings. The ritual is performed by both the bride and groom during an Andhra Reddy wedding. In this, a haldi paste called Naluga is applied to the bride and groom by their family and friends. The haldi is expected to add a glow to the bride and groom and brighten their faces before the wedding. After the ritual, all married women are given sweets, flowers, bangles and betel leaves while the bride and groom are showered with their blessings.
The Snathakam is a ritual specific to the groom, held usually a few hours before the wedding ceremony. In this ceremony, a silver thread is tied across the groom's body, a ritual whose completion signifies the groom's resolve to be wed and take on marital responsibilities. In the olden days, the Snathakam ritul took place once Brahmin boys returned after learning scriptures from sages. When they returned, they had to perform the Snathakam which signified the completion of their education and the readiness of the boys to take on more familial responsibilities.
4. Kashi Yatra
Shot by Focuz Studios™, Chennai
This funny tradition is part of almost all South Indian weddings. In Reddy weddings, the exchange takes place between the groom and the Bride's brother or mother. In the ceremony, the groom pretends to renounce the worldly pleasures of life and walks out to become a priest. However, he is held back or stopped by the bride’s brothers or mother, who then remind him of his worldly responsibilities and offer him the bride’s hand for a wedding!
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5. Mangala Snanam & Aarthi
Shot by Beginnings_for_you, Delhi
On the morning of the wedding, the Mangala Snanam takes place. ‘Mangala’ means holy, and ‘Snanam’ means bath. The Mangala Snanam is a ceremony we're all well aware of. It is a special bath ceremony where aromatic oils are rubbed on the bride and groom, after which they're given a bath which is accompanied by an Aarthi. Once the prayers are done and the bath is over, the bride and the groom are dressed in the first set of clothing for their wedding following which they carry out the other rituals.
6. Gauri & Ganesh Pooja
Shot by Focuz Studios™, Chennai
After the Aarthi, the bride and groom perform the Gauri and Ganesh pooja respectively. While the bride seeks blessings from Goddess Gauri, a symbol of fertility and motherhood, the groom offers prayers to Lord Ganesh to seek blessings for a happy and prosperous married life, with the hope that all goes well without any hindrances.
Shot by The Lightsmiths, Mumbai
A Reddy wedding begins with the ritual of Kanyadaan. Here, the bride is carried to the mandap by her maternal uncle in a bamboo basket. With evolving times, the bamboo basket has transformed from a ceremonial appendage to something of a ritualist decor. Then the priests perform prayers to seek blessings from the last seven generations of ancestors of both families. Until the Jeerakala-Bellam ritual is complete, the bride and groom aren't supposed to look at one another. Hence, a curtain or chadar called Terasala ('tera' meaning screen) is placed between them.
‘Jeelakara’ means Cumin and ‘Bellam’ means Jaggery in Telugu. With the Terasala (curtain) between the bride and groom, the priest begins chanting the wedding shlokas. Then, a paste made of cumin and jaggery is spread on betel leaves which the bride and groom place on each other's heads. The gesture signifies an unbreakable bond between the couple.
Shot by Priyam Parikh Pictures, Mumbai
This particular Reddy Wedding ritual requires the couple to change their outfits. The bride dons a stunning white saree with a traditional red border while the groom wears a white dhoti with a red border. The pairing of these colours is significant for they represent strength and purity.
During the Sumangali, ten married women accompany the bride as she returns to the mandap after changing her attire. Six of them carry thalis of rice and tumeric powder while the other four carry thalis with small lamps. Each of these elements is significant with a special meaning behind them. The lit lamps are made of sugar, rice flour and milk and signify the light and sweetness that every marriage should have. Whereas the rice is a symbol of abundance for the couple.
Finally, the Terasala between the bride and groom falls as the priest chants holy prayers. Following this, the groom ties two strings of Mangalsutra or thaali (a sacred yellow thread smeared with turmeric with 2 gold pendants at the middle called Sutralu). The groom ties three knots, each representing Manasa (thoughts), Vacha (speech), and Karmana (action). This particular ritual signifies the union of the two souls physically, mentally and spiritually.
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12. Kanyadaan Akshata
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After the Mangalsutra is tied, the bride and groom exchange their jaimalas. This moment, known as the Kanyadaan Akshata, is celebrated by their friends, family and relatives who shower a mix of raw rice and tumeric on the couple. This mixture is known as Akshata, which signifies blessings and good wishes from everyone to the newlyweds.
13. Saptapadi & Sthaalipaakam
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Like in any other Hindu wedding, Saptapadi ceremony plays an important role in an Andhra Reddy wedding ritual as well. In this ritual, the couple takes seven rounds around the holy fire while taking their marriage vows. One end of the groom's dhoti is tied to the bride's saree as they walk seven times around the homan (fire). As they walk these seven steps, they promise each other nourishment, togetherness in both joy and sorrow, wealth, strength, care for their parents, care for their children, and to remain friends forever.
The wedding ceremonies come to an end with the custom of Sthaalipaakam. The groom helps the bride don a toe ring, signifying that he bows down to her as his partner. He also gifts her a string of black beads to wear which ward off any evil forces.
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14. Griha Pravesham
Source The Yellow Draft
Once the wedding is completed, the bride and the groom are received at the groom’s house with a lot of cheers and blessings. 'Griha' means home and 'Pravesham' means entering. As the bride and groom step into their new life together, they are showered with best wishes and blessings from elders. A small kalash full of rice is kept at the door from where the bride will enter. While entering, the bride has to gently kick the kalash with her right foot so that it falls and the rice overflows.
15. Untying The Mangalsootram
Shot by Memory Lane Production, Kolkata
This is the last ceremony of any Andhra Reddy wedding. After 15 days of the wedding, on the 16th day, the two separate mangalsootras are tied into one. This signifies the coming together of two people as well as two families. It is mandatory for the bride to put on a new sari and wear jewellery and ornaments before this ceremony.
We have to admit, it is absolutely fascinating to see that each ritual in a Reddy wedding carries some meaning and significance with it. It is said that following the rituals religiously is one of the best ways to ensure a long and prosperous marital life. Just like Hindu Telugu Weddings, the rich traditions of a Reddy Wedding are soulful with a lot of harmony and unity with a bit of whimsy. So, if you're soon about to hold a ceremony like this, or are soon to attend a Reddy wedding, then this glimpse into their rituals is sure to help you!