Banner for the Wedding of Neethu and Bijo
This is an initial agreement and engagement in which are involved not only the spouses, but also their parental relatives. Betrothal itself is called Kaipidutham which is indicative of the clasping of hands by the paternal uncles of both the fiancé and of the fiancée in the presence of the priest celebrant in the church. The idea is that paternal uncles take up the responsibility to arrange for the marriage according to the agreement made at that time. It is to respect the responsible elders and to stress the idea of the entering into the family relationship. It means that not just the father but also all the close relatives of the couple are earnestly and whole heatedly involved in the new relationship.
On the eve of the marriage there is a ceremony at the home of the bride in which the bride's palm of the hand, feet and the nails are smeared with a special yellow ointment called Mylanchi. The ointment is made up of the leaves of henna plant. The Knanaya bride comes to the Pandal accompanied by her elder sister and she is seated in front of her grandmother, who smears mylanchi on her palms and feet. The main purpose of this function is to beautify the girl, the song which accompanies the ceremony gives, a biblical meaning to it.
On the eve of the marriage, the groom's face is ceremoniously shaved by the barber in the pandal in the presence of the assembled. It is called Chantham Charthal which means beautifying. The barber asks formal permission from the assembly reminding them of their protective rights over seventeen castes, a privilege granted by King Cheraman Perumal. After getting the consent of the assembled the barber shaves the groom's face and takes him out to apply oil on his head and give him bath. All the time, the assembly goes on singing the ancient songs related to this ceremony. After this ceremony the boy will called bridegroom.
Once the groom re-enters the pandal after bath, his sister brings Ichappad (white rice pudding and jiggery) and an elder in his father's line will, after having obtained permission from assembly give him Ichappad three times. This is a symbol of sumptuous and sweet life.
The main symbol of marriage for Christians is the tying of Minnu by the bridegroom around the neck of the bride. Minnu is a small gold medal with a sign of the cross embossed on it for Christians. Knanaya Minnu will have 17 small buds embossed in the form of a cross, and so it distinguishes from Minnu of other Christians and non-Christians. Using of a thread made up of seven yarns taken from the bridal veil, for the tying of Minnu.
© 2010 Neethu and Bijo
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