A Telugu marriage has ceremonies, rites and rituals that are
full of symbolism and rich significance. These are performed
like most Hindu marriage rites with an emphasis on spirituality.
The wife has a prestigious place in all ceremonies. She is the
ardhangini, a part of her husband, literally meaning 'half of
the body'. No religious ritual can be performed by her husband
in her absence. The rites are conducted by a purohit or priest.
The marriage usually takes place in any month with the exception
of the months of Aashad, Bhadrapad and Shunya, which are
considered inauspicious for weddings.
Some common surnames:
Sandhu, Gill, Bedi, Siddhu, Sodhi, Ahluwalia, Garewal, Kairon,
Rarewala, Chimni, Sukhurchakia
This involves determining the auspicious part of the day
for the marriage. The period that is considered
auspicious starts from 7.00 p.m. and goes on till the
next day until about 11 am. Weddings don't usually take
place in the months of Aashad, Bhadrapad and Shunya.
This ceremony involves anointing the bride and the groom
with oil and turmeric. This is followed by a bath. The
couple don new clothes following the bath. The
bride-to-be wears flowers in her hair. She adorns her
forehead with a bindi or vermillion dot and wears
bangles on her wrists.
This ritual is performed at the bridegroom's house
before the muhurtam. It is a sort of thread ceremony
that involves making him wear a silver thread on his
After the recitation of Vedic verses, the groom pretends
to leave for Kashi, a pilgrimage centre to devote
himself to God and a life of prayer. He carries a
walking stick and other spartan essentials with him and
implies that he is not interested in becoming a
householder anymore. He relents and agrees to the
marriage only after he is stopped and persuaded by the
bride's brother to fulfill his responsibilities as a
The bride and groom must take a Mangala Snaanam or an
auspicious bath on the day of the wedding. The bath is
believed to cleanse and purify them and make them ready
for the sacred rites that are to follow.
After the bath, the bride and groom are anointed with
oil at their respective homes. Their families perform
aarti - a ceremony that involves placing a lit oil lamp
or diya on a plate and circling the plate around a
person in a clockwise direction. The clockwise movement
is followed to imitate the earth's movement round the
sun. The ceremony is significant as it carries with it
the family's prayer that the mind of the bride/groom be
illuminated by wisdom.
The bride worships the Goddess Gauri by performing Gauri
Pooja. The Goddess Gauri is highly revered as it is
believed that she is a manifestation of Shakti, the
mother of the universe and the power and energy by which
God creates, preserves and destroys the world. She
symbolises motherhood, fertility and the victory of good
The bridegroom performs Ganesh Pooja in the mandapam or
wedding hall just before the marriage ceremony.
Worshipping Ganesha, the elephant-headed God is an
important part of most Hindu rituals as he is revered as
the remover of all obstacles.
The Kanayadaan is that part of the marriage
ceremony in which the girl's family gives her
away to the groom. Her maternal uncle carries
the bride-to-be in a bamboo basket to the
mandapam. The bride and bridegroom are separated
by a curtain placed between them. They are not
to see each other until after the marriage
ceremony. The priest invokes the blessings of
the ancestors belonging to the last seven
generations of both families. The bride's
parents wash the groom's feet in a gesture that
symbolises their belief that he is a form of God
to whom they now offer their daughter's hand.
After the priest recites the wedding shlokas
from the Vedas, the bride and groom apply a
paste of cumin seeds (jeera) and jaggery on each
other's hands. This is known as
Jeelakarra-Bellamu. The slightly bitter cumin
and sweet jaggery when ground together turn into
an inseparable mixture. Communicating that the
bride and groom are supposed to become
inseparable through life's bitter and sweet
For the Madhuparkam, the bride wears a white cotton sari with a
red border, while the groom dons a white cotton dhoti, also with
a red border. White signifies purity and chastity, while red is
a colour that represents strength.
The girl is accompanied by ten married women (Sumangalis). Six
of them hold plates full of rice and turmeric powder mixed
together. The remaining hold plates with small lamps made from a
mixture of rice flour, sugar and milk. Rice, the staple crop of
the south, signifies abundance. The lit lamps represent
sweetness and light, two qualities that the bride brings with
her to this new phase of life.
Tying of the Mangalsutra
The curtain between the two is removed at this stage. Prayers
offered, the groom ties the two strings (each with a golden disc
representing the mangalsutra) separately around the girls neck,
with three knots to represent the strength of their union on
every plane - physical, mental and spiritual. The groom holds
the bride's hand and gazes at the pole star or Dhruva
(represents constancy) with her. The couple also look towards
the stars Vasishta and Arundhati (part of the Great Bear
Constellation, known as Sapta Rishi or Seven Sages). These
stars, always visible together, have come to symbolise an
Having tied the mangalsutra, the couple now exchange garlands.
Those present at the wedding shower their blessings on the
couple by sprinkling flowers and turmeric-coloured rice (Akshata)
'Saptapadi' or seven steps are what the couple takes together.
During this, the bride's saree and the groom's dhoti are tied
together at one end in a knot. The groom prays for life-long
blessings with each step - with the first step he prays for food
that nourishes them, with the second step he prays for strength,
with the third for help in honouring their vows, with the fourth
for a comfortable life, with the fifth for the health of their
cattle, with the sixth for a life that survives the seasons, and
with the seventh for help in fulfilling religious duties. During
this ceremony, saris, ornaments and other gifts are offered to
the couple and to other family members.
The groom slips silver toe rings on the bride's feet. The girl
is also adorned with a string of b.
The marriage ceremony over, the bride is taken
to the groom's home for Griha Pravesh (entering
the house for the first time).
Uniting the mangalsutra
The two mangalsutras are united on a common
thread 16 days after the wedding. An elder
member of the family or the husband himself can
unite the two mangalsutras on a common thread. A
few black or golden beads are slipped between
the two plates so that they don't clash with
each other. Signifying harmony between the two
families. The bride takes a bath and wears a new
sari before wearing the mangalsutra on this day.
The number 16 is a very auspicious number among
Hindus. Also, 16 days are symbolic of the time
needed by the bride to understand her husband's