15 Telugu Hindu Wedding Rituals for your traditional Indian wedding

15 Telugu Hindu Wedding Rituals for your traditional Indian wedding

The Telugu Hindu Marriage is the traditional wedding ceremony of the Telugu people from the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in India. Just like any other Indian weddings, Telugu weddings are full of life, colors and enriched with traditions and rituals. In this article, we will talk about 15 Telugu Hindu Wedding Rituals which you can incorporate for your traditional Indian wedding.

Did you know that in the 19th century, a traditional Telugu Hindu marriage ceremony lasts up to 16 days (Padahaaru Rojula Panduga)? Nowadays, however, it has been cut short up to 2-5 days.

1.         Mangala Snanam

Mangala Snanam is part of the bride (Pellikuthuru) and groom (Pellikodudku) making ceremony or bridal shower. This ceremony can take place multiple times. Some have it twice, once before the day of the wedding and one on the wedding day.

The Haldi ceremony precedes this ritual where the bride and groom (at their respective homes) are smeared with Haldi paste by their friends and family. They are then given a holy bath with turmeric water. This is to cleanse their body and mind before the sacred ritual of the wedding. Turmeric also has skin-benefiting properties that enhance the radiance of the bride and groom.

After the Mangala snanam, a “Mangala Aarti” is conducted where a small lamp is lit, placed on a Thali (plate) along with turmeric, vermilion, and sandalwood. The Thali is circled in front of the bride and groom to remove any evil eyes and seek blessings from the Almighty.

2.         Ganesh and Gowri Puja

Ganesh Puja is conducted by the groom at the wedding venue while Gowri Puja is done at the bride’s house. The bride offers her prayers to Goddess Gauri as she is the symbol of fertility and motherhood. She prays for an ideal relationship that the goddess has with her husband, Lord Shiva.

Before the bride enters the Mandap (wedding stage), the groom performs the Ganesh Puja. Any auspicious occasion starts with Ganesh pooja in Hindu religion as Lord Ganesha is believed to be the remover of any obstacles. Hence, Ganesh puja is the first ritual which is conducted at the venue.

3.         Bride and Groom’s entry at the Venue

The groom and the bride enter separately on the Mandap. The bride is seated in a straw basket and is carried to the Mandap by her maternal uncle.

The bride’s brother washes the groom’s feet at the entrance and welcomes him and his family to the Mandap.

The Jeelakara Bellam is a ritual where the priest the bride and groom are not supposed to look at each other and hence a curtain is placed in between them. This is called Terasala (‘tera’ means screen).

4.         Kanyadaan and Panigrahanam

Kanyadaan means “giving away of the bride”. This is an emotional ceremony where the bride’s family officially gives her hand to the groom.

The bride’s parents wash the groom’s feet as he is considered a personification of Lord Vishnu who has come to marry their daughter who is considered Goddess Lakshmi.

The bride’s parents place their daughter’s hand in the groom’s hand and give away their daughter. As per Hinduism, ‘Kanyadaan’ is a highly noble act a father can perform.

Next, the groom is told to hold the bride’s hand. This is called “panigrahanam” and a promise to the bride’s parents that he will take care of her and be her companion in life’s highs and lows.

This Mantra is uttered thrice by the groom – “Dharmecha, Arthecha, Kamecha, Thaya Aham Evam Naati Charami!”

It translates to “Righteously, financially, by desire, spiritually, I will not walk away from her..!!!”

5.         Jeelakkarra Bellam or Sumuhurtham

This is a main even of Telugu Hindu wedding. ‘Jeelakara’ means Cumin and “Bellam” means Jaggery. The ritual begins by giving a paste of cumin and jaggery on the hands of the couple. At an auspicious time i.e. Sumuhurtham, the couple place this paste on each other’s heads while moving their hands above the curtain. This is the point where the couple are officially husband and wife as the curtain between them is removed.

The paste of cumin and jaggery symbolizes that the couple will stick together through bitter and sweet phases of life. It is also believed that the couple exchanges each other’s thoughts and destinies entwining their lives by applying this paste on each other’s heads.

The elders bless the couple with Akshata while the younger ones congratulate them.

6.         Madhuparakam

After the Jeelakara-Bellam, the bride and the groom leave to their respective grooms to change into ‘Madhuparakam’. The Madhuparakam dress code is white saree with a red, yellow or green border. The white color indicates purity or loyalty and the red/yellow/green indicates strength – the vital traits of any marriage.

After changing into new clothes, the bride and the groom return to the Mandap for the next set of rituals.

7.         Mangalsutra Dharana

Take a look at the traditional Telugu Hindu weddings rituals and customs that make it a beautiful experience.

The Mangalsutra or Thaali has huge importance in Hindu weddings. Mangalsutra is a sacred yellow thread smeared with turmeric. Attached are two gold pendants called “Sutralu” that is tied by the groom around the bride’s neck in three knots amidst “sannai mellam” (Shehnai).

The three knots signify the groom’s promise to accept the bride as his wife by three means – Manasa (thoughts), Vacha (speech), and Karmana (actions). The ritual signifies the complete union of the couple – physically, mentally and spiritually.

Mangalsutra or the necklace is an identity of a married woman in Hinduism. The yellow thread is replaced with a gold chain on the 16th day from the wedding.

8.         Talambralu

One of the fun parts of the Telugu Hindu wedding rituals is Talambralu (rice mixed with turmeric) where this mix is poured on each other’s head like a shower. Enjoyed by not only the newlyweds but also the family, it is sort of an ice-breaker between the bride and the groom.

The first three times, the couple shower the “Talambralu” on each other properly and after that, it becomes a competition on who pours more. Today, rose petals, pearls and colorful thermacol balls are also mixed with rice and used to shower on each other.

In the spirit of the competition, the friends and family gather on respective sides of the couple and pull them back as the other tries to pour the Talambralu. 

9.         Dandalu – Garland exchange

After Talambralu, the bride and groom exchange Jaimala that indicate the bride and groom accepting each other as life partners.

10.       Sthalipakam and Nalla Pusalu

In this ritual, the bride’s maternal uncle adorns the second toe of the bride with a silver toe ring. It is then followed by the groom adorning the bride with a necklace of gold and black beads called “Nalla Pusalu” in Telugu. The black beads free the bride from the effects of the evil eye.

In South India, the significance of Mangalsutra is big. Apart from Thaali or Mangalsutra, Nalla Pusalu, and Toe ring are identified as a symbol of married women just like the wedding ring in Western countries.

Apart from cultural importance, wearing silver toe rings offers health benefits. As per Ayurveda, toe rings regulate the menstrual cycle and increase chances of conception. Also, the pressure felt on the second toe while walking ease the pain during intercourse.

11.       Saptapadi

Saptapadi means “seven” and “padi” means steps. This ritual is done differently in various regions. In some traditions, the bride and the groom take seven steps around the sacred fire (homam). The groom leads the first three rounds while the bride leads the next four.

In Telugu tradition, seven steps involve the bride touching 7 betel nuts while the groom holds bride’s hand. The bride and the groom press each other’s toe 3 times which denotes equality in the marriage. The seven steps signify the seven vows of marriage.
  1. to nourish each other.
  2. to grow together in strength.
  3. to preserve our wealth.
  4. to share our joys and sorrows.
  5. to care for our joys and sorrows.
  6. to care for our children and parents.
  7. to remain friends lifelong.

12.       Brahma Mudi

After the Talambralu and Dandalu, Brahma Mudi is performed. In this ritual, a set of betel nut, dried dates, turmeric twig, betel leaf, and some currency coins are tied to the loose ends of bride’s saree and the groom’s Kanduva (Shawl). This resembles the Gat Bandhan ritual in North Indian wedding. These two knots (of the bride’s and the groom’s) are tied together which is called the Brahma Mudi. It shows that both the bride and groom should maintain good relations with both the families.

13.       The Ring Game

This is one of the most fun-filled rituals of not only Telugu wedding but North Indian weddings as well. In this “Finding the ring” ceremony ritual, two rings are dropped (one gold and one silver) in a water pot.

The bride and the groom put their right arm into the pot to see who picks the gold ring first. Three series of this game are conducted. In the best of three series, whoever finds the gold ring twice is the winner and is supposed to have an upper hand in marriage. This ritual can be quite fun for both the families as they cheer the respective side.

14.       Arundathi Nakshatram

In this ritual, the couple is taken out of the Mandap by the Pandit to spot the Arundhati and Vasistha nakshatram (star) in the sky. The groom points out to the stars to his bride. Arundhati and Vasistha represent an ideal couple and are hence shown as an example to the couple.

15.       Appagintalu

The final ceremony in a Telugu Hindu wedding is Appaginthalu where the bride’s family officially hands over the bride to the groom’s family. After this ceremony, the bride leaves the Mandap with the groom to his home. This is quite an emotional moment for the bride and the family.

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