The Paranjoonu or Virunnu (feast) ceremony is the official engagement ceremony in the Ezhava community. Here, ‘paraj’ means ‘to inform’ and ‘oonna’ means ‘to eat’. Typically this signifies that the elders in the family of the bride and the Ezhava Groom come together, announce the wedding date and enjoy a feast.
Significance of the Kerala Ezhava Engagement Ceremony
The Malayalam Ezhava engagement ceremony is a precursor to the wedding and happens to be one of the most important parts of the wedding celebrations. It is considered a ‘sacred beginning’ by the Ezhava community.
In the early days, the engagement announcement was done at the bride’s place where the elders of both the families got together and fixed an auspicious date for the wedding. The bride and bridegroom weren’t part of the ceremony as the elders decided for them. Being a caste-conscious group most Ezhava marriages happened between known families, references and groups.
What Happens During Kerala Ezhava Paranjoonu Ritual
The Nilavillaku which is a bell metal lamp is lit in front of God along with other lamps usually made of silver or bell metal. An offering of puffed rice, coconut and tulsi leaves is done on a plantain leaf. The elders of both the bride and groom get together and fix an auspicious date in the near future based on the horoscope match. The matched horoscopes are then tied together.
Mothiram Maatal - The Engagement Ceremony
The modern-day Ezhava engagement rituals include the ‘mothiram maatal’ (exchange of rings) where the bride and the groom are present for the ritual, unlike the earlier days. The couple exchange rings and this symbolises their engagement. Then gifts are exchanged between both the bride and the bridegroom families.
The Paranjoonu is an important occasion for the Ezhava bride and the groom as they decide to start a new life together. As an engagement treat, a grand feast is arranged for all the gathered guests to celebrate the alliance and the wedding.