Poo Maalai translates into flower garland in Tamil and Maatrudhal means exchange. Exchange of garlands or maalai maattrudhal is one of the rituals associated with a Tamil Brahmin Iyengar wedding. It happens before the wedding and after the 'Mapillai Azahaipu".
The garlands are created in a unique way for both the bride and the groom. These garlands are made with closely-knit fresh flowers mostly malligai-poo (jasmine) with a few red roses or kanakambaram (crossandra or firecracker flower) and adorned beautiful beads such as pearls or stones. The garlands are then given to the bride and groom to be exchanged in the presence of their maternal uncles.
The fun part comes when the bride or the groom tries to garland their prospective better half. Initially, the garland is handed over to the groom and the bride’s relatives - the maternal uncle, brothers and cousins lift up the bride to try and dodge the exchange. Once the groom successfully places a garland over the bride’s neck, the bride is handed over a garland and it is the duty of the groom’s relatives to do the same dodging trick.
The Significance of Tamil Brahmin Iyengar Maalai Mattrudhal Ritual
The exchange is repeated thrice making it more fun and competitive for both the families. This acts as the fun part of the wedding amidst all the hectic wedding rituals. Exchange of garlands signifies the commencement of the marriage ceremony. It is a promise of commitment towards each other for the rest of their lives. The fragrance from the garlands sets the right stage for a romantic beginning of a new life!
Once the ceremony is complete, the groom and bride are guided towards the mandap for other rituals.