Source Vijay Eesam & Co.
Every state in South India has its own unique wedding rituals. And one such popular wedding culture comes from the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, where Telugu wedding traditions reign supreme.
Telugu wedding ceremonies are traditional weddings of the Telugu people in India and abroad. They're highly driven by their culture, with practices rooted in ancient traditions. They're a mix of classic events like Pellikuturu, Pellikoduku and Mangala Snanam and modern additions like Mehndi and Sangeet. Earlier, Telugu weddings would last anywhere between 16-19 days. However, with changing times, the duration of weddings has reduced to 3-5 days. Telugu wedding rituals are vibrant, detailed & colourful festivities full of meaning and tradition. Like all Indian wedding ceremonies, the events aim to culminate with the physical, spiritual, and emotional union of the couple.
So, to learn more about Telugu wedding rituals, scroll down!
Telugu Wedding Rituals
Source Stories by Joseph Radhik
A wedding not only brings together two souls in love but it is also the source of strong bonding between two families who come together to bless their children in their endeavours. The Telugu marriage takes place on the foundation of the Telugu Hindu wedding ceremony, is an age-old tradition made for the Telugu people of India. While we are all fans of relishing an Indian wedding and being a part of traditional rituals, very few of us understand the meaning at their core.
Telugu weddings, like many others, are known for their deep-rooted traditions and jovial ceremonies. Telugu weddings are not supposed to take place during the months of Aashad, Bhadrapad and Shunya as per the Telugu wedding calendar.
Read on to know more about the traditions and customs of a Telugu wedding.
This is the official engagement ceremony of the bride and groom. It is done to announce the intentions of marriage. An auspicious date and time for the wedding is also decided during the Nichayathartham. The couple exchanges rings during the ceremony, following which the future mother-in-law of the bride gives her jewellery, clothes and silverware to bless the bride.
2. Pellikuturu & Pellikoduku
Shot by The Brown Bride, Hyderabad
The Pellikuturu and Pellikoduku ceremony take place one or two days before the wedding day at bride and groom's place respectively. In this ritual, a paste of flour and turmeric, called naluga, is prepared with aromatic oils which is then smeared on the body of the bride and groom. Following this, they're given a holy bath with turmeric water to cleanse the body and mind before the sacred ritual of the wedding. The ceremonies are performed separately at the bride and groom's respective residences.
3. Mangala Snanam
Shot by WeddingNama, Mumbai
‘Mangala’ means holy, and ‘Snanam’ means bath. The Mangala Snanam is a ceremony we're all well aware of. The ceremony takes place on the morning of the main wedding. In this the groom and the bride are taken for ceremonial baths at a decided auspicious time. After 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.
In the days of yore, Brahmin boys were sent away to sages to learn the scriptures. 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. During the wedding rituals, Snathakam involves the groom taking a holy bath and then wearing a holy silver thread around his upper body as a mark of a new beginning in his life. It is also indicative of the groom being ready for marriage.
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5. Kashi Yatra
Source Navdeep Soni
Kashi Yatra is a fun ritual where the groom pretends to be disinterested in marriage and would rather go on a holy pilgrimage to Kashi. The bride’s father and brother then stop the groom from going on a pilgrimage and instead request him to marry the bride-to-be.
6. Ganesh Pooja
Source Dreamin Loud
The first pooja to take place at the mandap is the Ganesh Pooja in which the groom takes part. The aim of this pooja is to bless the couple with a happy and prosperous life and the wedding precession with the hope that all goes well without any hindrances.
7. Gauri Pooja
Source Dreamin Loud
While the groom is engaged in the Ganesh Pooja, the bride offers prayers to Goddess Gauri during Gauri Pooja. Goddess Gauri is a symbol of fertility, triumph of good over evil and motherhood and the would-be-bride seeks her blessings.
8. Bride's Entry
Shot by Clique Studio, Hyderabad
Once the poojas are over, the bride enters the wedding venue accompanied by her parents and family. In certain traditions, the bride is seated on a straw basket and carried to the mandap by her maternal uncle(s). However, these days, if a bride is entering seated, the seat can range anything from a simple straw basket to a decorated basket that looks like a lotus. Until the Jeelakara 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.
9. Kanyadaan & Panigrahanam
The Kanyadaan & Panigrahanam are rituals performed by the bride's parents where after washing the groom's feet, they offer their daughter's hand to the groom. The groom, in return, promises to love, respect and protect his bride for life.
10. Jellakara- Bellam
Source Stories by Joseph Radhik
‘Jeelakara’ means Cumin and ‘Bellam’ means Jaggery in Telugu. This ritual begins by placing a paste of cumin and jaggery on the hands of the couple. The ceremony takes place at an auspicious hour because time of this ritual is extremely important. At the exact mahurat, the couple place the paste on each other's heads, moving their hands above the curtain. The ritual symbolises the fact that the couple will stick together through the bitter-sweet moments of life.
Shot by Pixelena Studio, Bangalore
Immediately after the Jeelakara Bellam, the bride and the groom are asked to change into the madhuparakam which are white/cream-coloured attires with red/green/yellow borders. While the bride and the groom get ready in their respective rooms, the pandit places the mangalasutram on a coconut and passes it amongst the family members for blessings. When the bride and the groom return, the groom ties the mangalasutram 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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This is like a fun break between two main events. During this the pandit chants mantras and the bride and the groom shower each other’s heads with talambralu (pearls, colourful thermocol balls, or rice coloured by turmeric paste). The first 3 times are significant, after which it turns into a game. The families too get involved and try that help their person win pour more rice over the other.
Following the Talambralu, a pot full of milk and rose petals is prepared. A gold ring is dropped into it and its brought to the mandap. The bride and groom then engage in a fun game of putting their arms into the pot and see who finds the ring first. It is an exciting game for both the bride and groom and the people watching. The struggle the couple goes through to secure the gold ring is humourous entertainment for everyone.
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14. Kanyadaan Akshata
After Talambralu and Pradhanam, the bride and groom exchange jaimalas, signifying their acceptance of another as life partners. As the couple exchanges flower garlands their friends and relatives shower them with flowers and turmeric-coloured rice.
15. Saptapadi & Sthaalipaakam
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, to care for their parents, to care for their children, to remain friends forever.
16. Arundhati Nakshatram
During the Arundhati Nakshatram, the couple is taken out of the mandap by the priest to spot the Arundhati and Vasistha nakshatram (star) in the sky. The Arundhati and Vasistha star represent the ideal couple, hence they're shown to the couple to set an example. The groom points out the stars to his bride. Following this the groom puts a silver toe ring on the bride's toe.
In its essence, the Telugu marriage isn’t that much different from a Hindu Brahmin wedding and has almost similar wedding rituals. While studying these rituals, we were left awestruck by the beauty of Telugu weddings and the rich cultural heritage they carry. if you're about to have a traditional Telugu wedding, or are soon to attend one, then this deep dive into their rituals will surely help you.