The picturesque Coorg or Kodagu district, located on the eastern slopes of Western Ghats, is blessed with natural resources and its indigenous population.
A traditional Kodagu wedding is a fun-filled affair. A Coorg wedding has got many rituals which are unique to the region. Instead of priests preceding over the function the Coorg couple will seek the blessings of the ancestors through prayers.
An average Coorg wedding will last for 3 days.
On the day before the wedding, the bride and groom will offer prayers to their ancestors and local deities. For this function, the bride will be dressed in an off-white saree with zari border. The saree is worn in the traditional Coorg style and will also have a long embroidered veil tied at the nape of her neck. The groom will wear a white long traditional jacket and it will be secured at the waist with a red and gold silk sash. He will also wear a silk scarf on his head.
Soon after the groom offers his prayers his mother would make him wear a chain made of gold and coral beads around his neck. This is to show his status as the groom. For the bride, the bride's mother would tie a traditional pathak (Which is a chain of coral, gold and black beads, with a pendant that is framed by rubies and a cobra’s hood figure at the top) around her neck to mark her status as the bride.
The function will be accompanied by traditional music and drum beatings.
On the wedding day, the groom will be taken to get a ritual shave. And after that, he will be given a ritual bath. The groom's mother and two married women will pour a pot of water each on the groom. The wedding dress of a Kodagu groom is a white long sleeved jacket with a red silk belt around his waist and a gold and white turban. A red veil is also used to cover a part of the turban.
He will also have a traditional dagger tucked into the front of his belt and another traditional dagger with a broad blade at the back of the belt.
The golden chain given to him by his mother on the wedding eve will also be worn. A Coorg groom will also wear gold bangles and a jasmine garland as part of the wedding attire.
The bride will have a bangle wearing ceremony on the wedding day. She will be made to wear glass bangles in various colours. A black glass bangle is a must for the Coorg bride, as they believe that it will ward off the evil eye.
She will then have a ritual bath like the groom, the bride's mother and two other married ladies will pour a pot of water on her.
The bridal attire of the Coorg people consists of a red silk saree, long sleeved blouse and a red veil. She will have a lot of gold jewellery and jasmine garland.
A unique ritual at a traditional Coorg wedding is the cutting of banana plants. About 9 banana plants are placed at the entrance of the venue using wooden stakes. As the groom arrives a member from the groom's side will cut 6 of them down. Later the groom will pray to his ancestors and local deities and will cut down the remaining three. Traditional music will be played and the groom will dance along with it.
The groom will then enter the venue and someone will hold an umbrella over his head. He will be accompanied by a girl with a silver plate with a small lamp kept on a layer of rice and men beating drums.
The groom's sister will bring a reed basket filled with puffed rice, bananas, jaggery, milk and coconuts. She will carry it on her head to the venue. It will be handed over to a female member of the bride's family.
At the wedding mandap the groom will be seated on a low stool and then the bride will be brought and she will seat to his left.
After the wedding rituals such as muurtha, sammanda kodupa, Ganga puje are conducted. Muurtha is the ritual where the bride and the groom are blessed by the wedding guests. During the ritual sammanda kodupa the bride is provided the rights in her husband's house and during Ganga puje the bride is welcomed and is accepted as the member of the groom's family.
The elders will bless the newlyweds. After that, the groom will get up and showers rice on the bride's head and offers a sip of the milk. She will be given a small red silk purse with gold, silver and a copper coin. Then the bride is helped by the groom to get up and will exchange their jasmine garlands.
After that, an elder person from the bride's side would give 12 pebbles to a groom's family member. These pebbles represent the bride's birthright in her parent’s home. The groom's part will only accept 11 pebbles the remaining one pebble represents the bride being allowed to retain her toes with her family.
Before taking the bride t his house the groom will have to bribe the bride's cousin, who could have married her by tradition, with a gold coin.
The traditional wedding meal is followed next. The guest will dance to the beating of the drums.
After reaching the groom's house the bride will have to fetch water from the well it symbolizes the bride being officially becoming part of the groom's family.