(This extract is from a Tamil book written by Tamil Thatha, Dr. U. V. Saminathayyar
named, “Yen Charithiram”)
ஆங்கிலத்தில் - பொறியாளர். வ.ரபீந்திரன்; பி.ஏ; பி.இ (ஆனர்சு); ஐ.ஆர்.எஸ்.இ.
My age was fourteen, running and my bride was only eight. Seeing the bride before
marriage was not at all in vogue at that time. Only elders would see the bride and
decide. Though I had seen the bride earlier, I had no acquaintance.
Before any marriage, the preliminary arrangements would start at least one month
earlier, and the whole family would be involved in the efforts. Some relatives would
come even one month before and many would come one week before. None of them would
expect any kind of special treatment as guests. They themselves would become members
of the family and do many jobs like, Pandal erection, its decoration, and dismantling
the same after marriage etc. The people of the village also would willingly take
part in it. The Pandal would be erected covering the entire width of the road. Ladies
would undertake cooking, serving and making up other ladies. Therefore there was
no need to search for separate manpower for these jobs. Since all were willing workers,
there was no cause for any complaint about lack of hospitality.
The villagers’ helpful attitude and their cooperation would manifest themselves
on these occasions. Due to that, there would not be much expenditure also. Whatever
vegetables and fruits were grown in the village, would be utilized for feasts. The
expenditure towards Pandal erection, the Nadaswaram music troupe and other Dakshinas
would be shared by both bride’s and groom’s parents. But the fourth day function
of village tour would be borne entirely by the bridegroom’s parents.
Those days, drinking coffee in the morning was unheard of. Breakfast in the morning
would consist of “Thuvaram Paruppu” (Lentil) Pongal with Parangi Kaai (Ash gourd
) Sambar with appalam, karu vadaam, and vathal as side dishes. Some would eat “Pazhayadhu”.
Young girls also would eat the same. There would be no tiffin in the afternoons.
After lunch, only dinner was the next course. Lunch would be served after 12 noon,
only after the elders finish their pooja. All would eat together. Nobody could come
to lunch or dinner at their convenience.” Appalam, Aama vadai (Masaal vadai), and
Poli are the usual snacks during those times.
The marriage functions would take place for four days and every day and every time,
all the people from the village would be invited for meals and all would come at
the correct time.
In the mornings and evenings, ladies would enjoy themselves by playing in swings.
In the afternoons, they would take part in “Nalungu” (a sort of fun filled) function.
Elders would watch and enjoy from the side lines. There would be two parties, namely,
bride’s and bridegroom’s party who would sing mostly Tamil folk songs alternately.
Every day morning and evening, there would be a procession from the house along
the streets, carrying a curve shaped palanquin (Valaivu Pallakku). On the last day,
there would be fire works too by the children. During the procession, the marriage
party would distribute to each household an offering called “Thamboolam” containing
betel leaf and nuts. The number of nuts should match the number of persons in the
household. The nuts are called “Thinnai Pakku”. If the nuts are not included in
the “Thamboolam”, the recipient would become angry.
During the Muhurtha time, plantain fruits and thamboolam would be given to everyone.
They would be placed on a large plate called “Thaambaalam” along with a turmeric
applied coconut. The coconut would be held back by the person extending the plate
and the taker was supposed to take only the fruits and the thamboolam. Only during
Upanayanam function, (Poonool ceremony) coconut would be given to each.
On the fourthday evening, the married couple would receive blessings from all relatives
and the people of the village. It was absolutely essential that all should come
for this function; otherwise serious differences and disputes might arise. If some
important people were to come, it was likely that the function might get slightly
delayed waiting for their arrival.
According to the custom, God Pillaiyar was to be worshipped before marriage. The
idol would be entirely anointed with sandal paste. Sandal paste was obtained by
rubbing sandalwood on a big stone kept for the purpose. The village people would
help in this activity.
After Abishekam and pooja, the offerings to the God , namely, fruits, kozhukkattais
and sundal would be distributed to all. Each kozhukkattai would be of the size of
a mango. There are set practices as to who would distribute the offerings to people
and nobody dares to disturb them.
After the Pillaiyar pooja and family deity pooja, the marriage would take place
My marriage also took place in the same way in bride’s village “Maalapuram” on 16-6-1868.
For both of us, it was a unique and novel experience. More than us, the guests had
a very good time making fun of us.