One of the very important decisions in life to be taken is, Marriage. A difficult one indeed! There are various schools of definitions for this one word “Marriage”. I always speculate about one such definition: “Marriages are made in Heaven”
Or is it that the marriages that happen on earth are heavenly?
Yes, I agree with this!.
There is so much delight, family get together, joy, the splendid decorations, the traditions and cultures, pomp and grandeur all these build a different level of happiness in people which I say is a heavenly sensation and hence agrees that marriages are truly made in heaven!
Every bride and groom is considered to be Shiva and Parvathi who come down all the way down to earth from heaven. God is seen in every individual here which is the other way of respecting individuals and assuming the heavenly marriage.
One such wedding attended is my best friend’s wedding. The wedding in Coorg/Kodava style. The rich traditions, culture and the rituals in the Coorg wedding are so much special than the usual Hindu rituals and made me so inquisitive behind the traditions of theirs! I made sure to find the reasoning behind every ritual and explain the same here to my level best!
Unlike in other Hindu traditions, the Coorg/Kodava marriage is not performed by any priest, but by the elders of the family. The wedding ritual here is also of two days. The first day of the wedding is called “Karik Muripa” where the elders of both the bride and the groom’s family pray to their ancestors and goddess river Cauvery.
Cauvery plays a major role in lives of Coorg people. She is the life and main deity of every person in Coorg. She is considered as the “Ganges of South India”.
A “Mandapam” is set on the stage where the wedding rituals are performed. This Mandapam is decorated with the picture of goddess Cauvery and a sacred lamp kept in the Mandapam.
The bride and the groom are dressed up in their traditional Coorg attire. The bride wears saree in coorg style where the pleats are tucked in at the back of the waist and the end of the saree is fastened over the right shoulder with a long sleeved blouse and a veil over her head. There is reasoning for draping saree in this style! Coorg mainly is a hilly place covered with forest. Way back, the ladies had to climb these hilly regions to make way for their work! When the saree was worn the corgi style, the women had the ease for walking and climbing the hills. This became a ritual and culture of Coorg eventually!
The groom wears a white long sleeved wrap around knee length coat secured at the waist with red or gold sash with a red silk scarf tied over his head.
The bride and the groom’s family perform these rituals separately and both the bride and the groom seek blessings from all the elders present in the Mandapam.
During this ritual, the bride’s mother ties a chain of coral, gold and black beads and a gold chain pendant that is framed by rubies and has the figure of a cobra’s hood on top of it.
After all these rituals they break for snacks and dinner. The exotic and a differently flavored Kodava cuisine is predominantly non vegetarian and a signature dish that will be served with pork!
This is followed by the Coorg people getting down to dance to the beats of “Volaga”. What delighted me in this wedding of Coorg was the way people gathered and enjoyed the wedding. Irrespective of the age and gender, all dance and merry around. Another tradition which stands out in the wedding was serving of wine/beer to relatives and friends. Coorg being a cold city gets colder in the nights. To commemorate this, they started serving homemade wines so that is keeps the body warm and vanishes the tiredness from the body and get you to relax!
The second day is when the wedding rituals are performed. There is another story related to this Coorg wedding! It is said that Coorg girls are most beautiful and intelligent. During the times of Kings ruling the kingdoms, awed by the beauty of Coorg women, they wanted to marry every beautiful girl from Coorg. To avoid these many marriages of all the girls, it became a custom by their mothers to tie the Magalya to their daughters to state the marital status to married so she is being saved by marrying the king.Even to this day, in wedding the bride’s mother ties the the Mangalys and not the groom! Isn’t this interesting??
Before the wedding, there is a bangle wearing ceremony called “bale Iduva” where the bride is adorned with the bangles of all colors.
“Baale Birud”, is another prominent ritual done in the Coorg weddings which signifies the strength of the Kodava men! Kodava men are know to be the bravest and strong! There are many boys from coorg who are serving the military forces! They take a great sense of pride in serving the nation.
In this ritual, nine banana stems are vertically fixed to small wooden stakes at even distance in a straight row and the top of the stems are decorated with flowers. The family member from the bride and the groom prays to their ancestors and strides around these stems and then in neat strokes, slashes off three stems one after another. These stems has to be slashed off in a single stroke and once done, they dance with joy meaning that they could complete the task given without any hurdles! It s a sign of good omen and a joy of victory.
After the ritual of Baale Birud completes, the groom enters the wedding hall who is led by his uncle, holding an umbrella and his sister carrying a decorated pot on her head. The pot contains food which also signifies the richness and support which the groom family want to render to the brides family signifying support throughout their relationship .
In the olden days, when the groom would come from his village to that of his wife-to-be, they would carry rice, meat, coconuts, bananas, jaggery, bread and other food. This was because the bride’s family did not have a count of the number of guests expected and therefore very thoughtfully the groom’s side carried all this food for the wedding feast that would follow.
As they enter the hall, a young girl from the bride’s family washes the feet of both, the groom and his sister with water and the bride’s family members shower rice on the groom, then spreading a white sheet of cloth for the groom to walk on. The bride’s mother welcomes the groom and feeds him rice, milk and sugar.
On the day of wedding, the Mandapam is decorated with low height stool kept on the either side of the dais on which the bride and the groom will be seated.
The groom is led to the Mandapam and is seated on the stool, then the bride is brought to the stage. The mother first blesses her child, then the father. After which the elders from the family walk to the bridal couple and shower them with some rice grains and feed them with some milk from a little silver pots.
The last ritual is the “Ganga Puje” where the bride performs certain rituals. Once the couples are announced as married, the girl now belongs to the groom’s family. As per this ritual, it is the responsibility of the groom’s family to make the newly wed bride stronger to any situation, and hence poses challenges for her here.
The prayers are done by the bride for the well which contains the sacred water of Cauvery after which she needs to draw water from the well and pour it into little pots, which she put on her head. She needs to start walking back to the wedding hall. A simple task, it may appear to be, just the groom’s family members make sure she doesn’t reach there. So they keep dancing right in front of her blocking her path, restricting movement. The bride needs to overcome these challenge, where she stands for hours with these pots on her head and moves only when she can. The longer she is kept standing, the more she’s proving that she is strong enough to be part of her new family.
All these said and done, the marriage rituals of two days is successfully completed where the bride and the groom are taught all the challenges through these tiny rituals and the ways to overcome them.
In two days of marriage rituals, a gist of life’s morals and principles are being taught to the young people who are ready to step into a new world of life. The lessons of responsibility, patience, joy, celebration, culture, patriotism and challenges adorns the chapters of life!
The journey of whole life explained in two days!
Yes, Truly, “Marriages are made in heaven.”
P.S.: Thanks for the friends/relatives in Coorg who helped me in explaining the traditions and picture credits to Mr. Shridhar Bhagal and Mr. Lavin Bopanna.
Certain information written in this blog may by a myth too and not related to any fact. In any case, it is not intentional and just a coincident and not related to any individual (Living or dead).