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Hindu Nadar Wedding Rituals

Initiating the marriage proposal & Kainanappu

Marriage alliances are usually initiated through brokers or relatives. The groom’s side is generally expected to initiate the proposal. Horoscopes are matched and other details about the bride and groom are exchanged. The bride is `seen’ formally by the groom and his parents at a ceremony called ‘Kainanappu’.


Once both sides are mutually satisfied with the match, the engagement ceremony or Nitchayadaartham takes place. This is the confirmation of marriage The groom’s side brings the bride a sari and other auspicious gifts that include betel leaves, coconut, turmeric, fruits, flowers, sugar cubes and so on.

Maapilai Azhaippu

The marriage follows the pattern of other Hindu weddings. The bridegroom’s party comes in a ceremonial procession and is received by the bride’s brother who garlands him. This is called the Maapillai Azhaippu, in smaller villages and towns, the groom is received with a band who play the nadaswaram and other Indian musical instruments.

Nadar Kalyanam

The kalyanam or marriage was traditionally held at the bride’s home or at a Murugan temple but nowadays, kalyana mandapams are used.


The Kanyadaanam refers to the custom of the bride’s father giving her away as a gift to the groom. The bride is brought to the mandap bedecked in all her bridal finery. She usually wears plenty of gold jewellery and a rich silk sari. The bride’s father places her right hand over the right hand of the groom. After this, holy water is poured on the palms of the couple while the priest recites Vedic hymns.


The couple exchange garlands. The highlight of the wedding ceremony is the ‘Thalikettu’ where the groom ties the thali around the bride’s neck. Prior to this, the thali is taken around in a plate and blessings of elders and relatives is sought. The wedding is followed by a sumptuous vegetarian wedding feast.

Christian Nadar Wedding Rituals

Initiating the marriage proposal

Christian marriage proposals are initiated by relative or friends, paper ads or matrimonial sites. Once both sides are satisfied with the credentials, the bridegroom’s family formally sees the bride. If they are happy, the date for engagement is fixed.


The engagement ceremony is held at the bride’s house and conducted by the pastor. The bridegroom comes to the bride’s house bringing her an engagement sari along with other gifts like flowers, betel nuts, rock sugar, turmeric and so on. The close relatives of the bride and bridegroom attend the engagement. The bride changes into the sari gifted to her. Then the pastor prays for the couple and rings and Bibles are exchanged. The engagement is then confirmed.

The Wedding

The bridegroom visits the bride’s house on the day of the wedding and is welcomed by the bride’s family. The bride’s father garlands the bridegroom and gifts a gold chain. The bridegroom then gifts the bride her wedding attire and other auspicious items like fruits, flowers, betel nuts, rock sugar, turmeric and so on. These are brought to the house by womenfolk from the bridegroom’s side on large trays or tamboolams.

Christian Nadar weddings take place in the church, mostly during evenings. The bride is dressed in a white silk sari with gold zari or white gown while the bridegroom wears a formal suit. The bride’s face is covered by a white veil that trails till the ground and is carried by flower girls, small girls, dressed in pretty dresses with lace. Nadar Christian brides take pride in gold jewellery and wear a lot of it.

The bridegroom enters the church first with his Best Man and waits at his seat for the bride. The bride enters escorted by her father and then the wedding ceremony begins. Later, the bridesmaid, a young unmarried woman usually a relative stands near the bride.

Giving away the bride

The bride’s father gives away the bride to the groom by placing her hand in his. If the bride does not have a father, her uncle gives her away,

Exchanging wedding vows

The highlight of the ceremony is the exchange of wedding vows. The bride and groom promise to love each other till the end of their lives no matter what. They promise to stay together through sickness and health, riches and poverty and stay faithful to each other. This is a very solemn ceremony.

Tying the thali The tying of the thali is an important part of the wedding ceremony.. The thali is a gold chain with a pendant usually a plain cross or a cross with some other design, sometimes the traditional family design is used. The thali is blessed by the priest and elders in the family and the groom ties it around the bride’s neck. Once the thali is tied, the veil is pushed away from the face. Gold rings are also exchanged. After this, the bride and the groom sign the marriage register.

Wedding Reception

The wedding is followed by a reception usually held in the church compound or at a hotel. A Toast is proposed where the toastmaster introduces both the families. Some light music is played as guests give away the gifts to the couple. The popular menu is mutton biryani with raitha, brinjal curry, sweets and ice-cream. Vegetarians have a separate full-fledged South Indian meal.


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