These photos show a typical South Indian village wedding. The village is Kizhathuval Village, about 70 km east of Madurai, in Tamil Nadu. This is the village of the bride, Kanaga. We traveled there from Tiruvannamalai with family and friends of the groom, Ranjith Kumar.
The rites at the wedding are ancient. In Tamil Nadu the ancient religious rites still live in the everyday lives of millions of people. They are particularly alive in the villages, which are still relatively unchanged by ‘modern’ western ways.
Ranjith is the cousin of our driver and friend, Rajan. He is a good man. He grew up in Tiruvannamalai, and when younger went to work in a good job in nearby Chennai. He ended up coming back to Tiruvannamalai, he says, wanting again to live in the peace he feels from Arunachala, even though he had to give up a good job and drive a rickshaw.
Gathering in Tiruvannamalai
Waiting together until it is time to get on the bus.
Painting Carol’s nails. When they asked me if I wanted mine painted also, I said, “No thanks.”
Taking a chartered bus to Kizhathuval
Getting on the bus. Ranjith’s mother, in a yellow saree, is in the foreground.
More and more people boarded the bus in Tiru. This is but one of the two vehicles that were arranged for the trip. Both were full as the group departed.
The lady sitting behind Carol, Ranjith’s aunt, had her own ideas of how Carol’s hair should be arranged. So when Carol made a motion to adjust a bobby pin, she didn’t waste any time jumping in to re-comb and re-pin the unruly western mane. She added flowers, also.
For an extra blessing and good luck, the bus took a trip around Arunachala before starting on the trip.
Stopping along the way to eat
Stopping for an afternoon tea and coffee (and bathroom) break.
At the bride’s house, the night before the wedding
This is Kanaga, the beautiful bride. She is 20 years old. Ranjith’s sister is sitting to the right. This wedding was arranged by Kanaga’s parents. She had met Rangith only once before the wedding.
As the party from up north arrived, the women joined the bride’s family in a room of their house. Here is Carol sitting among the women.
Eating a meal before we left to sleep at a local hotel. You can see how joyful this is for these women.
Kanaga’s family serving the meal.
The day of the wedding
Rajan, leaving the hotel in the early morning.
Carol and Rajan’s wife, Janaki, dressed in their silk wedding sarees, looking grand.
Ranjith, dressed for the wedding.
Kanaga is ready to come out. Wow!
Final preparation for the bride, Kanaga.
Putting on the special wedding mala.
The procession starts from the bride’s house. All the puja items needed for the wedding are carried in the procession.
Here they come, through the village.
The Village Temple.
The party arrives on the temple grounds.
The pjua items are laid out and ready.
Hindu Wedding Ceremony
Ranjith and Kanaga sit before the Hindu priest.
Worshiping the puja items by lighting camphor.
The bride, resplendent in her glory.
On the right is the groom’s father. Both families are involved in the ceremony.
Ranjith’s mother and father exchange malas.
As do Kanaga’s mother and father.
Here the bride and groom and both sets of parents have their hands together while the priest blesses them all with an offering of milk poured through their hands.
The next saree for the bride to wear is given to her.
And she rises to change sarees.
Now she has returned, adorned with the marriage saree.
The moment of marriage. Ranjith is putting a mala around Kanaga’s neck, and people shower them with flower petals and rice.
Decorations are tied to Ranjith’s head.
And Kanaga puts the marriage mala around Ranjith’s neck.
Ranjith is putting turmeric made into a paste onto Kanaga.
The bride and groom gaze at each other in a mirror.
And the bride and groom perform more puja activities.
They then pranam at the groom’s father and mother’s feet.
Next they pranam at the bride’s father and mother’s feet.
The bride’s mother blesses the groom, marking his head with sacred ashes.
The bride and groom circumambulate the temple three times, then enter into it.
The inner chamber is filled with people, all that will fit in the space.
Music was provided by the drum machine on the wall of the temple. It is now just past 11 AM. We started out from the hotel at 6 AM.
The couple blesses the temple god with a camphor flame.
And then they praman the temple god.
The head village priest blesses the bride and the groom.
The newly married couple pranams the head priest.
And the couple honors the bride’s uncle.
Now the women, relatives of both the bride and groom, wrap up some things in the pallu of the bride’s saree.
Then the women bless the the couple with a paste of turmeric. You can see the joy on their faces.
The new married couple rise for the procession back to the bride’s house.
Here are Rajan’s daughter and son, Janani and Raam, in their wedding duds. Janini looks like a movie star, I think. Their mother, Janaki, is looking on.
Local boys gather outside the temple, posing for a picture.
Procession back to the house
And the procession parades back to the bride’s house. Notice that she is dressed in yet another saree, the third for the day.
Welcoming the new married couple into the home.
Sharing the first married food.
And then breakfast for everyone.
And the party begins
Richard in his silk wedding dhoti, shirt and “towel.”
A small building where Rajan and his male friends are celebrating.
You can see how they celebrate. I join them, and drink a beer.
And then a luncheon with a tasty mutton stew as the celebratory meal.
Bride and groom with Carol and Richard.
Ranjith’s western friend, Cati, taking a photo with two Indian ladies.
Happy ladies after the marriage.
More happy ladies.
Now our camera batteries ran out. We have three special batteries, all were fully charged. After more than 400 photos, the last battery ran out of power, so no more photos today.
After this, we got back in the bus and were home again in Tiruvannamalai to go to sleep this night. The long bus trip gave us time to slow down after the excitement of the wedding and the day.
Soon Ranjith and Kanaga will come via taxi driven by a friend to their home together. Kanaga has probably never been away from her family so much as a single night in her life, now lives with a new family, and in what is for her, a big city, Tiruvannamalai, with about 100,000 residents. .