Timeless traditions: Iyengar weddings

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An Iyengar wedding is filled with many wonderful traditional rituals passed down through the years. .

Text: FWD Media   Photos: Various Sources

India is a land of many wonderful and sometimes even funny wedding rituals. People are creative enough to make their wedding romantic and memorable for everyone involved. Whatever their choice, the only aim is to make it splendid. Indian weddings become an occasion to celebrate and rejoice with splendour, customs, traditions and of course a lot of people and food. Although all wedding ceremonies are royal, they become unique in their own ways.

The Iyengar community celebrates their weddings in vedic style with cute and long traditions passed on over the centuries. Pre-marriage rituals include a formal get together of both families, usually at the bride’s place to start the the introductory session. The bride and the groom are introduced to each other, after which the marriage is finalized by their parents over a formal discussions on the venue and date.FWD Vivah 1 Timeless traditions Iyengar weddings

FWD Vivah 2 Timeless traditions Iyengar weddings

A few excerpts from the interesting Iyengar rituals:


One or two days before the event, both houses will be purified by applying kumkum and turmeric with a long bamboo and showing camphor. Small plantain trees will be fixed on both sides of entrance.

Mapillai azhapu or janavasam

Known as(baraat in hindi), the formal wedding function starts here. The bridegroom arrives in a car decorated with flowers and accompanied by nadaswaram.


A formal announcement of wedding by parents with exchange of small tokens. After this, the bridegroom’s dhoti(the one for marriage) will be dipped in turmeric water by both mothers. This will be followed by a wedding reception with entertainments.

Kasi yatra

It is symbolic re-enactment where the groom pretends to go to kashi and become a ‘sanyas’. The next bachelor in his side accompanies him by holding umbrella for him. The girl’s father then asks the groom to leave that thought and marry his daughter and they exchanges ceremonial coconuts dipped in turmeric water.The groom then returns to the ‘mantap’ with his family.

Bride’s side performs the puja for jadaga namakarana- the formal naming ceremony of the girl and the bridegroom’s side performs pooja for the boy to move from brahmachari stage to gruhasta stage.

Malai Maatral

Exchange of garlands thrice among the bride and groom. The maternal uncle lifts up the girl and the boy to make fun and finally the groom is given the bride’s hand to hold.


The groom blesses the bride and gives her a 9-yard saree to wear thereafter. The ‘thali’ is taken around and touched by all elders indicating their blessings and flowers are distributed among everyone to bless the couple during the nuptial note which is about to follow this.

FWD Vivah 3 Timeless traditions Iyengar weddings

Maangalya Dhaaranam

The bride arrives in new saree and sits on her father’s lap. The groom ties the first two knots while his sister ties the last one. The couple takes seven steps round the ‘agni’ (sapthapadi).

FWD Vivah 4 Timeless traditions Iyengar weddings

FWD Vivah 5 Timeless traditions Iyengar weddings


The bride invites the groom and his family to play relaxing and interesting games like rolling coconut, breaking papads on each other’s head, applying kumkum, combing hair for each other. This will be followed by exchange of several gifts, aarathi etc. Both families tease the couple and many songs are sung during these.

FWD Vivah 6 Timeless traditions Iyengar weddings

Kattu saadam

On the third day, a sumptuous lunch (saadam) will be packed for the couple and they will be escorted by the bride;s family members to the in-laws house.

Samandi virundu

Ending of all function as the groom’s family invites the bride’s side for lavish lunch. This one tradition surely will survive all tides and will be carried forward to generations.

FWD Vivah 7 Timeless traditions Iyengar weddings