Sunday, July 12, 2009

Making arrangements for the marriage

Making arrangements for the marriage by the bride's parents -Some points.
(It is final part of Iyer Marriages - Rites & Rituals - 8 by P R Ramachander)

The iyer marriages (98%) of the rites and rituals are arranged by the bride's father. Since this is a complex duty , some of the arrangements , which he should not lose sight of are mentioned here:-

1. Preliminary Discussion with the Bridegroom’s parents.

The bride’s father should discuss the following points with the groom’s father preferably after the Nischayathartham performed in the groom's house: -

a. Suitable and convenient date for the marriage (He should also take in to consideration the convenience of the bride and her mother)

b. Dowry, ornaments, vessels and other items expected by the groom’s family.

c. The amount of money needed to be paid for the suit to be worn by the groom during reception.

d. Ring size of the groom .

e. Slipper size of the groom.

f. Design of the Thali (What pattern has to be inscribed on it)

g. Approximate number of guests accompanying the groom.

h. The Cheer .This should include the number of large Murukkus (With Vari number), muthuswaram, Laddu, Neyyappam or Adhirasam, Mysorepak and quantity of Thirattupal. Also the number of packets of Small murukku and two sweets each packed separately in cover .(this is for distribution of the groom's party to their relatives and friends. Any special demand by the groom's party should be noted.

i. Find out whether they would bring their own Vadhyar and if not whether it is necessary to arrange a separate Vadhyar for them locally.

j.Request them to inform their travel plan sufficiently early.

k.Exact name of the grooms father , mother and groom for printing the marriage invitation by the brides family. Care should be taken to print the name of the groom and bride as they appear in their passport , if they are going abroad after the marriage.

l.Find out the addresses of their close relatives to whom invitation letters have to be posted by the bride's father.

m.The number of copy of the full set of Albums and Video cassettes required by them.If the groom lives abroad find out whether , it has to be in what mode and whether they require it in a CD.

n.Find out whether they require any hotel rooms to be booked for the groom's friends and other VIPs.

2. Fixing up of a hall.

This is possibly one of the very important aspects of the work to be done. Most of the good halls are booked very early. If necessary help of few friends who have their own vehicles can be requested. The major consideration is the number of guests expected to attend the function, the timing of the Vritham, Nischayathartham, Marriage reception and the travel programme of the groom's family. Since most of the Groom's relatives and friends are new to the place where marriage is conducted, sufficient accommodation should be available in the Hal. If it is not available alternate accommodation has to be searched. Once the hall is located and available on the day of the marriage, it should be booked for a minimum of two days. It is important to find out from the manager of the hall

a. Number of Chairs available in the hall

b. The number of chairs available in the dining hall

c. The number of rooms available (whether all of them have attached bath rooms and if not the number of common bath rooms),Personally inspect how neat they are. Also find out whether hot water facility for bath is available.

d. Whether they will provide the vessels and stow with the hall free?

e. Whether there is a generator in the hall?

f. Whether there is provision for extra decoration with them?

g. Whether they have a swing for the Oonchal ceremony?

h. Whether they have Homa Kunda for performing homa.

i. The number of servants who are available with the hall and their remuneration.

j. The number of cars that can be parked inside the compound.

k. At what time the hall will be handed over to them and when it has to be handed back.

Before leaving find out the correct name , address, telephone number, telegram address if any of the hall and also the transport facility to the hall from different parts of the town. Make a list of bus numbers passing near by.

3. Fixing the Marriage contractor.

Nowadays it has become a practice to fix up the cook cum contractor to help us conduct the marriage. He normally takes care of the food aspect of the marriage function .He also supplies the Cheer to be given, fixes the Nadaswaram, supplies all the traditional necessities of the marriages during the marriage including flowers. Once a good contractor who is not too busy on the day of marriage is located, you have to inform him:-

1.The menu for breakfast, lunch, tiffin time and dinner for the two days of the marriage and approximate number of expected guests during each time. Normally one of these times the marriage reception will be held. Detailed menu for the reception also should be told to him.

2.He should be told about the cheer items to be supplied to the Sambandi as well as the requirements for the bride's family.

3.He should be told about the number of Kuttis which he has to supply along with specification of the filling like cashew nut, boondhi, paruppu thengai etc.

He would normally take charge of the following items:-

1. Mangala Vadhyam

2. Flowers , garlands as required

3. Materials required by the priests

4. Thamboolam packets for the guests attending the marriage

5. Coconuts for Sambandhi

6. Putting of Kolams as and when required

7. Materials for Arathi , Pachaipudi

Some of them will also arrange

1.Photographer and video coverage

2.Decoration of the hall

It is essential at this stage to make extensive consultation with friends or relatives who have already arranged marriages so that the contract money be fixed at reasonable limits.

4. Fixing the priest to conduct the marriage.

If the marriage is being arranged in our normal place of residence, the priest would necessarily be our family priest. If not through known people we have to fix the priest. He would be the best person to fix up the muhurtham lagnam for the marriage. The contract rate for him to conduct the marriage (bride's party) should be also settled at that time. If the groom's party wanted us to arrange a priest for them , the same priest could be told about that also.

5. Printing of marriage invitations

It is essential to know about the name of the groom and his parents clearly before this is attempted. The groom should be asked whether he wants his qualification and designation should be put in the invitation .It is extremely important to spell the name of the groom and bride as it appears in the passport, if they are intending to get visa to a foreign country. Any good printing house will have several models and a suitable invitation could be chosen. Some families believe in printing a traditional invitation in Tamil apart from the regular invitations. If this is necessary , arrangements should be made for that also.

If it is proposed to have a music concert during the reception, the artist concerned should be contacted and fixed before printing the invitation.

5.(a) Purchase of silk saris for the bride and others

This is a very important purchase. It is necessary to decide where these are to be taken. Apart from the 9 yards Koorai Pudavai , a minimum of 4 saris for the following occasions have to be taken:-


2. Kannoonchal

3. Shanthi Muhurtham

4. Thozhi Pongal

It is also customary to buy a silk sari for the mother of the bride, brides sisters, her brother's wives, Mami and Athai. Also a sambandi Pudavai for the groom's mother has to be purchased. Little girl children of the family also get Pattu Pavadai. In view of the economy, it is preferable to purchase all these at this time.

5(b) Purchase of Veshti and Uttariyam for the groom and Materials for Kasi Yatrai

The groom has to be given a Pattu Veshti and Uttariyam.Vratha Pattu) .Besides Two grand Veshtis with lot of zari border (cotton) has to be purchased for him to wear during Kasi Yatrai.One more extra set of Veshti has to be presented to him .
For Kasi yatrai , it is necessary to purchase an umbrella, a walking stick, a hand held fan, a holy book and slippers.

6. Making of the thali

It is a custom to give order for this on a shubha muhurtham day. In olden times the gold smiths used to come to the bride's house and start melting the gold during a muhurtham. Apart from the two thalis the other paraphernalia like Gold Kundoos also should be made.

7. Ordering for jewels

Most of the families do have all the necessary jewels for the bride .It may be necessary to give them a special polish. It may also be necessary to make a few more ornaments for the bride based on modern fashion. Since most of the girls transfer the thali from the yellow Kayiru to a Kodi after the marriage, it is necessary to make one such kodi, with a provision for putting the thalis in that.

It is necessary at this time to order for a ring to the groom. Most families also put a gold chain to him during the Nischayathartham.

It is also necessary to have a pair of Pudupanam for the Dharma Virtual function. If not available two small gold coins of the least weight possible can be got made.

8. Silver vessels

Most of the groom's parents expect a few silver vessels.The most essential are panchapathram and Uddarani for the groom, silver lamp(some families insist on a pair of lamps) and silver Kukuma Chimizh. It is also essential to purchase two silver cups called Madhuparka Kinnam.

In addition a silver plate for taking meals for the bride and the groom is also is usually given. Two small silver cups for receiving and drinking Palum Pazhamam would avoid lot of problem when this ceremony is going on.

9. Brass vessels

For the Oonchal, it is necessary to buy two lamps, two thambalams and two Chombus made of brass.

10. Purchasing of mats.

It is a custom to inscribe the names of the bride and groom on the mat given during the marriage. If this is decided upon , then it is necessary to get them made. This is available only in few centers of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. But if ordinary mats only are to be given, these are readily available.

11. Posting of Invitations

This is a very time consuming job. Close relatives expect a personal letter along with the invitation. Nowadays it is got separately printed. It is better to consult as many relatives and friends as possible so that no important person is missed from the list of invitees.

It is also necessary to identify the persons to whom the special invitations printed in Tamil have to be sent.

A personal hand written letter has to accompany the invitations being send to very senior elders of the family.

It is a custom to personally go to the Groom's parents house along with Coconut, Thamboola , flowers etc and inform them of the marriage. If any brides relations stay near the place of the groom they can do it on behalf of the bride's parents.

If there are any near relatives of the groom staying in the same town as the bride's parents, they also should be invited personally with coconut, thamboola and flowers.

12. Arrangement for a photo and videographer

It is necessary to get a professional who has covered iyer marriages before. Unless this is done, it would be necessary to put along with him somebody who is conversant with the marriage function, so that the function is covered nicely. It is necessary at this stage to tell the photographer the number of rolls that he has to expose. Taking a picture does not mean it has to be printed. A professional can give only few best photos of each occasion. The videographer has to be told, the number of copies that he has to make. If it has to be copied in a CD, this again has to be told to him.

13. Arrangement of Transport.

Though a transport contractor has to picked up based on the charges as well as the number of good vehicles he has, the micro arrangements have to be made only a day before the marriage. If the grooms party is arriving together, it may be necessary to hire a van. If not a two or three cars will suffice. But it is important to note that adequate arrangements should be made to give transport to the groom's pary. It would be better to give them control of the vehicle, so that they can use it as and when they like.

14. Inviting local guests

This is another aspect of the marriage which is very strenuous and needs lot of planning. Initially a list of people should be made and then each and every one of the house should be asked to go through it. Later a detailed plan as well as a time table should be drawn up. If older relatives like brothers or sisters or sons and daughters who are married live with you or in the same town, they can be asked to share this onerous work. They can invite on behalf of you. Nowadays, more and more use of the telephone is being made. The invitations can be posted as usual and can be followed up by a telephone conversations.

15. Purchase of presents to near relatives and honoured guests.

This is another item that needs detailed planning. Normally the elder and old enough younger sisters of the bride, her sister in laws are presented with a silk sari for the marriage. The budget depends on our capacity to spend. Similarly it is also a custom to present saris to the paternal and maternal aunts. It is also necessary to purchase suitable presents to the cousins of the bride. Sometimes cash present is made to them, so that they can choose their own presents. It has also become customary to give token presents to all women guests during the marriage. But all these need to be discussed among the nearest family members and decision taken based on our capacity to spend.

It is also a custom to present very close male relatives with Veshti and Uttariyam.The requirement should be estimated and sufficient quantity purchased.

16. Contacting the Grooms party and finding out their travel plans.

Since the groom's party normally comes from some other place, it is necessary to receive as many of them as possible and provide them transport to the hall. So a very clear timetable of their arrival should be drawn up. It would also be necessary to ask them whether they need any arrangements made for their return reservations.

17. Sumangali Prarthanai

This is normally observed before the marriage. Arrangements of the function and its conduct vary from family to family. This should be conducted according to the family traditions. But normally a 9 yards sari is taken and presented to one of the sumangalis and one Pavadai is presented to a the girl invitee.

18. Arranging for a beautician

Most of the brides want to be made up by a talented beautician of their choice for the reception. If this is so, her time should be booked. If the beautician can come and do her job at the hall itself. There is nothing better. Before this the brides do decorate their hands with Mehandhi (marudhani) .If there is no expert in the family circles, arrangements for this also needs to be made.

19. Two days before the marriage.

Close relatives would start arriving from various destinations to the marriage. It is necessary to accommodate them properly and look after them. Since most of them are closely related it is hoped they would not mind some slight discomforts. It is better to employ a cook to take care of the cooking in the house on this day, so that the bride's parents are available to look after last minute final details and also to look after several guests. If closely related relatives come forward, they can be entrusted with different aspects of the marriage like transport, looking after Sambandi, etc.

It is essential to procure sufficient number of locks and duplicate keys to the different rooms in the hall. Since the grooms party are to be properly looked after, it is better to keep a few pieces of toilet soaps, combs, mirrors, tooth brushes, paste, kumkum tins, Vibhuthi, use and throw shaving sticks etc. this is to help those people who forget these things while coming to the marriage. If the hall does not provide beds, bedspreads, pillows etc, arrangements should be made to hire these also. A very detailed plan of the programme for the next two days should be drawn up and individual responsibilities assigned. Also all things to be taken to the hall are to be packed properly.

If the vritham is the next day morning, the toilet items purchased for the groom along with oil , Payaru, Vellam and sweet should reach the grooms party early in the morning and is traditionally given by the aunt of the bride. Nowadays it is a custom to give a full toilet set to the groom during this occasion. This should consist of toothbrush, toothpaste, Shaving set, mirror, toilet powder, hair oil and comb.

This is also the time for the lady of the house to plan as to the responsibilities like palikai, oonchal, arathi etc to the different female relatives.

20. One day before the marriage

This day could be extremely busy, if the vritham is on this day morning and the repetition is being held in the evening. If these are not there the day would not be hat tight.

The most important activity is to receive the groom's party in a proper way. As soon as they get down from the car, the groom's parents are to be honourably received with Thirattu pal, thamboolam, coconut etc along with mangala vadhyam. The groom should be garlanded during the occasion by the bride's father or her brother. Also Arathi should be arranged to prevent evil eyes. Then they should be lead to their quarters and made comfortable. If there is Vritham, they should be called to that function in a traditional manner with coconuts and paruppu thengai kutti. It is normal t observe the Kappu Kattal to the bride simultaneously. If this is only next day, then arrangements should be made for their breakfast and then lunch.

Normally the first function is Mappilai Azhaippu and Nischayathartham. A decorated car has to be got ready for the Mappilai Azaippu.Normally this is not included in the contractors duties. A near by temple also has to be identified and the priest of the temple informed in advance for the Pooja.It is important to see that the VIPs of the grooms side are escorted to this function in a proper way. Old people have to be provided transport.

If the reception is held after the Nischayathartham , then the beautician should be forewarned about the timings, Either she should be brought to the hall or the bride taken to her place in time.

The guests for the reception should be received at the entrance by a very small group consisting of members from both bride's and groom's side. Teen age or younger girls belonging to both families do mostly this. Both families should assign some one elder to recognize the VIPs arriving to the function. It is necessary to introduce the bride's family guests to the groom and very important ones to his parents. For this purpose the bride's parents should always be near the stage. It is better to entrust other important responsibility like accompanying the guests to the dinner etc to other relatives and friends. Most of these guests will not be coming for the marriage. So it is essential that the Thamboola packets be distributed to them while they are leaving.

If the Vritham has not taken place that day, it is essential to see that the materials for Vritham to the groom reaches them before they retire.

21. The day of the marriage.

Most of the functions on this day would go like clock work , thanks to the experienced contractors and priests. But it is essential that all guests are received properly and given break fast if they come early. It is also essential to enquire from the groom's side as to any problem they face and solve it. The bride's parents would be extremely tied up with the ceremonies for most of the forenoon (till Mangalya Dharanam) .So it is essential to identify capable people and delegate responsibilities to them. The bride's mother has to decide as to who will participate in the Oonchal and Paligai from her side. She should ask the groom's mother to nominate 2 members from her side who will participate in the paligai from her side.

She should also think in advance the people from her side who will participate in the paligai in the goom's side.It is also essential that she decides in advance about her relatives who will participate in the alathi in different occasions. She should also keep an experienced lady relative in tying 9 yards sari to the bride. She should also delegate the responsibility of giving presents to her friends after the end of the function to her friends and relatives.

Early morning the veshtis and Uttariyams purchased should be distributed to the male relatives, Similarly the saris purchased also needs to be distributed. This is either done in an informal way by simply handing it over to them or ask the eldest member of the brides relatives to hand it over individually in a formal function. One male relative should be entrusted with expenditure and receipt of money. As and when sudden demands are there for cash, he should be in a position to meet it. He also should receive all cash presents and neatly account it. He would hand over to the priest the cash presents to the sister of the groom who ties the second and third knots of the thali .This is normally the same amount as the groom's party gives to the brother of the bride after laja homam. Other expected expenditures are Sambhavana for the Mutts and various small amounts of dakshinas as directed by the priest.

All the preliminary purchases made for various functions should be available in the hall. It is essential to see that the coconuts , thamboola bags and cheer items to the groom's party handed over to their representative in time.

Immediately after the marriage the groom and bride are taken to the groom's quarters and brides house for giving them Palum Pazhamum. Somebody should be deputed to go to the house slightly early and make it presentable to receive the guests. After that the registration of the marriage should be done. This can be done easily , if preliminary arrangements are made for the same. If by chance the groom and bride are little delayed, their lunch with the important members of both families should be retained. This is important because sometimes, if much larger number of guests come, the material cooked would not be sufficient.

Most of the guests would like to meet the bride’s parents before they go. If palaharams and presents are to be distributed to them, arrangements should be made for the same.

If there is Nalangu this should be arranged in the afternoon. Though most of the bride’s party would be dead tired before evening, it is necessary to treat the groom and his guests in a befitting manner. They should be provided transport to the bus stand or railway station as and when they want it.

While all this is going on arrangements should be given a final shape to the nuptials. According to sastras it should be held in the boys house but now it is a custom to hold it on the day of marriage. It can either be held in brides home or in a convenient hotel. But it is essential that the views of the bridegroom and his parents be ascertained before arranging it in a hotel. Somebody should be put in charge of decorating the room and taking there, essentials like a lamp, milk to drink, flowers, fruits etc.

If bulk of the groom's guests depart on the same evening, it would be necessary to give them food packets for the way. The marriage contractor normally supplies this. It is a custom to supply Kattu Chadam to the departing guests of the groom's party.

Normally there is a feast for dinner on that day. But some people prefer simple meals. The wishes of the groom's party should be ascertained regarding this.

A few of the people accompanying the groom normally stay over to the next day. They should be well taken care of. If the Mandap has to be vacated, then they should be provided alternative accommodation.

On the next day tall the groom's party would depart. It is essential to give them Kattuchadam and also provide them transport.

It is also essential that some elder relatives accompany the bride and groom when they depart to their house. Arrangements for their reservation (if they are going by train) should be done well in advance.

In some cases the father in law (bride's father) foots the bill for the Honeymoon of the couple.
Again early arrangements for journey and stay has to be made.
(The author Shri P R Ramachander, a Retired Scientist with abiding interest in history, astrology, cartooning. Settled at Bangalore with two children in USA. Would be interested in answering questions about all aspects of Indian Culture. Free astrological consultations are given if horoscopes are sent.