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South Indian Wedding Traditions That Make Them Unique

Author: Alakananda Bhattacharya

Are you curious about South Indian wedding traditions? We bring you unique and fascinating wedding traditions from all across the four states of South India?

Nishchitartham, Lagnam, Kashi Yatra or Kanyadaan.. there are over twelve different kinds of South Indian wedding traditions observed in India. Some rituals are common across communities, whereas some traditions are absolutely unique. Each state has its own cultural flavour. Other than the wedding ceremonies, all these states have various kinds of bridal and grooms wear, food, music and ethnicities at different stages of a wedding.

Tamil Nadu


Chettiar wedding:  

The Chettiar weddings are very elaborate and go on for about 6 days:

1. Muhurthkalam and Nichayadartham (Engagement)

2. Padaipu - Honouring the ancestors by cooked food

3. Arasanikkal and Mattru Kattuthal - The wedding platform is decorated with bamboo sticks and yellow cloth for covering

4. Pooram Kazhitha - Holy bath of the bride and decorating her with gold chains and neem leaves

5. Azhagu Arathy and Ganesh Puja - The paternal grandmother of the groom blesses him and performs Puja before going for the wedding

6. Mangalasutra/taali and then the couple takes seven rounds around the sacred fire

7. Isaivu pidimanam or a marriage agreement is made by the priest

8. Padapuja, Kulam Vazhum Pillai and Thumbu Kattudal - After the bride is welcomed in the new family, the sister and mother touches the bride’s head with sacred ash and turmeric for twenty-one times. Then the bride washes her mother-in-law’s feet using betel leaves. The bride is given the responsibility of the house and a matrimonial thread is tied around her neck

Gounder wedding:

Gounder weddings are mostly based on old Tamil age wedding traditions with a few variations depending on availability:

1. Porutham Parthal - Horoscope matching

2. Sagunam Parthal - Looking for favourable wedding omens and then visiting each other’s families

3. Nichyadhaartham - Both the families exchange plates of auspicious items like turmeric, betel leaves and fruits before acceptance of the marriage proposal. And then an appropriate date and time of wedding is fixed

4. Naal Virundhu, Muhurtha Kaaland and Muhurtham are part of the three-day long Gounder wedding. There are feasts on the first day. On the second, the wedding platform is decorated along with beating of drums. On the third day, the bride and the groom wear traditional outfits while the groom ties the Thali. Sacred instruments are played while the couple exchange garlands. And finally, the marriage responsibilities are blessed on the couple.

5. Mangala Vaazthu is a sacred wedding song describing the holiness of marriage. This is sung to bless the new couple

6. Aarathi Eduthal is performed after the wedding ceremony. The women hold and move a plate of turmeric and lime water in front of the couple to protect them from the evil eye

7. Senjoru Aindhadai Suttrudhal & Arugumanam Seidhal - getting rid of the evil eye

8. Kalyana Virundhu - grand vegetarian feast served on plantain leaves to celebrate the marriage

Brahmin wedding:

1. Pandh Kaal Muhurtham - The families bless the bride and the groom and worship God for a hassle-free wedding

2. Vratham - The families fast on the day before the wedding for a prosperous marriage. The women soak grains in a pot of water overnight and later immerse the pot in a pond

3. Jaanavasam - The groom is welcomed with fireworks, music and Aarthi

4. Nicchiyadhartham - The bride and groom receive gifts, sarees, jewellery, fruits and blessings from each other’s families

5. Kashi Yatra

6. Oonjal - The bride and the groom sit on a swing and drink banana milk. The families sing traditional songs to ease the couple off the wedding stress

7. Kanyadaan like other communities, the father of the bride washes the groom’s feet and puts a Kajal dot on his face in a Brahmin wedding. The bride is gifted a nine-yard Madisaaru saree

South Indian wedding traditions are varied, extensive and colourful. Where there are intense rituals like Porutham Parthal and Naandi, fun and playful traditions like Kaashi Yatra or Mailanchi Raavu are also very fondly performed in most weddings. Where a Nair bride elegantly drapes a white saree with golden borders, a Nizami bride opts for a gorgeous Lehenga, a Coorgi bride wears colourful saree with length above heels with a veil tied at the back of the head in a typical mountain-girl fashion. Such diverse customs and traditions, yet there is one common foundation of every South Indian wedding - the bond of eternal togetherness adorned with cultural ornaments.

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Christian wedding:

The bride dresses up in golden bordered white saree and wears gold jewellery and a white veil with a crown on the head. The Christian wedding traditions in Kerala are precise:

1. Engagement or the Ring ceremony

2. Bachelor’s/Hen’s party

3. Haldaat or Haldi wherein sandalwood paste is also applied along with Haldi

4. Holy wedding - The wedding is performed by the church priest who reads the Holy Bible. Then a sermon called Homily based on marriage’s sacredness is followed

5. Mangalsutra or the Thali

6. Matrakodi (wedding saree) is gifted by the groom and the bride is to keep this saree and the Mangalsutra with her forever

Nair wedding:

It’s important to stage the wedding Kalyan Mandap in a particular fashion in a Nair wedding. South Indian wedding traditions peculiar to Nair weddings are:

1. Mahuratham - The matching of horoscopes and fixing of auspicious wedding date and time

2. Nishchayam - Engagement

3. Mehndi

4. Dakshina Kodukkal - Before going to the wedding venue, both bride and the groom take blessings from elders by giving Dakshina

5. Kanyadaan

6. Padamuri - The groom gifts a saree to the bride vowing to take her responsibility forever. The couple exchange garlands and elders bless the couple with gifts

7. Sandhya or a meal is served to the couple consisting of 25 items.

8. Grihapravesh and Aarthi

Muslim wedding:

1. Valaidal or “Wear the Bangle” ceremony for the official announcement. More jewellery are gifted

2. Naal nishchayam or fixing of wedding date and time

3. Mailanchi Raavu or Mehndi which also follows by singing and dancing. All women sing Mappila Paattu (Sangeet songs) and tease the groom

4. Nikaah - The official marriage contract held either at the mosque or at some wedding venue presided by a priest

5. Feast - Exotic Malabar cuisine is served for the feast. Biryanis and Sulaimani chai are the must-have ones

6. Araayil koodal - Malabar Muslims follow matrilineal tradition and enters the bride’s house. The newlyweds are blessed, welcomed and left to spend time together

7. Veettil koodal - This is when the couple visits the groom’s house, receives gifts and celebrate a grand bridal party

8. Salkaaram or the reception party is where family and friends gather to celebrate



Kannadiga Wedding:

1. Nishchay Tamulam - The horoscopes are matched, and the wedding date is fixed. Clothes, sweets, coconut and betel leaves are exchanged

2. Naandi - Puja performed by the family priest to ensure a peaceful wedding. The first marriage invitation is offered to the Almighty seeking His blessings

3. Dev Karya - The groom takes blessings from all the neighbourhood temples before going to the wedding

4. Kaashi Yaatra, Mandap Puja, Var Puja, Jaimala, Saptapadi, Dahreherdu (Kanyadaan), Vidai and Griha Pravesh are some of the common traditions practised in most South Indian weddings

5. Okhli is a ceremony of games and playful customs played between the bride’s and groom’s families

The groom wears a white cotton or silk dhoti with thin borders tied around the waist. He pairs it up with a silk scarf and a turban. The bride wears a colourful Navari saree with glass bangles, gold necklaces and Maang Tikka.

Coorgi wedding: