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The customs and rituals of a Reddy wedding

The customs and rituals of a Reddy wedding

The Reddys are a social community that is mainly settled in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. According to history, they were the warrior caste, who became landed gentry in the later years. It is mainly an agrarian community whose rituals and traditions are quite similar to the other communities found in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

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A Reddy wedding consists of certain ceremonies and rites that are rich with symbolism. The emphasis is on spirituality, just like most of the Hindu marriages. The marriage can happen during any months of the year, barring Aashad, Bhadrapad, and Shunva. However, the marriage ceremony is a little different from other weddings observed in the neighboring states of South India. The Reddy people follow certain traditions of their own and the brother and uncle of the bride have an important part to play in the commencement of the wedding.

The marriage is decided after the astrologer consults the stars of the bride and groom. He notes his calculations and after he has fixed an auspicious date, he writes it down on a Palmyra leaf which is handed over to the parties involved. The marriage happens only if the two horoscopes are deemed to be a perfect match for each other.  It is only after a date is fixed that the two families come together to plan the rest of the wedding.

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The rituals of a Reddy wedding are given below in the correct order:

Patrika:

Patrika is the written marriage contract between the two families. The marriage contract is put on a yellow cloth along with fruits, betel nuts, betel leaf and turmeric. This patrika or contract is exchanged between the fathers of the bride and the groom while the priest chants mantras.

Nisachaitharthum:

This is the formal engagement of the bride and the groom where they exchange rings. It is performed in the bride’s house around a lit nila vilakku which is a brass lamp.The couple is then blessed by the elders of both families in the Nisachaitharthum. Gifts are presented which includes jewelry and clothing. During this rite, the future mother-in-law of the bride commences the engagement by presenting the bride with gold and silverware.

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Vara Puja:

The Vara Puja is performed in honor of the to be married couple. The groom and his family are presented with foods and new clothes and they are formally  invited to the wedding venue. The bridegroom’s feet are washed off with milk and the bride’s father wipes them with a cloth.  The Puja can be called as a way of letting the two parties be acquainted with each other. During this Vara Puja, the Shubha Lekhas are collected from both the bride and groom’s sides and those are read out loud.

Paindlipilla or Haldipaspu:

This is the ritual bath and the adornment of the bride. A paste of oil and turmeric is applied on the whole body of the bride by the family members. This gives her a pre-marriage glow. Thereafter the bride takes a bath for purification.

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Vivaaham:

The venue of the wedding may be a Kalyana Mandapam that is a hall rented for wedding purposes or a temple or a hotel. Amidst great pomp, the bridegroom, and his family are received by the other side at the entrance of the venue. Nadaswarams and thayli are played melodiously as the bridegroom enters the premises. After the foot washing ritual, Aarti is performed for the welfare of the couple by the relatives of the bride’s family.

It is at the Mandapam that the actual Vivah takes place. Two rows of young girls enter the area that carries with them the oil lamp or the sacred Changala Vatta, the ashtamangalia, platters of flowers, rice, and turmeric. The girls are followed by the groom who places himself at the right side of the mandapam. Now is the time for the bride to enter who is escorted by her aunt.

Muhurtam:

After the wedding has commenced, the bride stands facing the eastward direction, with the groom in front of her. Muhurtam is the auspicious moment when the groom ties the thali around the neck of the bride. This thali is a yellow thread on which hangs a gold pendant. This thread is removed in lieu of a gold chain, three days after the marriage. The moment of tying is decided by the astrologer. The tying happens amidst loud beating of drums.
 

Kanyaadaanam:

This is the ceremony where the bride’s father gives her away to the groom in a ritualistic way and the groom accepts her and her responsibility in return. While the ceremony happens, the maternal uncle brings the bride to the Mandapam in a bamboo basket. A curtain separates the bride and the groom as they are not allowed to look at each other. The groom reassures the bride’s father three times that his daughter will be the companion of the groom through thick and thin.

Sapthapadi:

In this ritual, the couple takes seven rounds around the sacred pyre. The groom holds the right hand of the bride and walks to the right side of the fire. Then he holds the right toe of his bride as they walk around the fire for seven times. With the closing of this ritual, the marriage reaches an end.

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Sthaalipaakam :

In this ritual, the feet of the bride are decorated with silver toe rings by the groom. The groom stops before the bride and puts the rings on. This bending down is seen as a gesture of accepting the woman as his own wife. Also, the bride is given a string of black beads which she is supposed to wear so that no evil eye can be cast upon her.

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The Post wedding customs:

Just like any other Hindu marriage, after the ceremony is complete, the bride enters her new home with her husband. She is given a hearty welcome by the family of the groom. This ceremony is known as Gr̥uhapravēśam. After the entrance of the bride, a puja is performed for the welfare of the newlyweds in the house of the groom. This puja is known as Satyanārāyaṇa Vratam.

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