Viratham or Vratham is an important ritual conducted by the bride and groom’s family separately in the Kalyana mandapam. It is a fast that is done usually a day before the Tamil Hindu brahmin wedding. In this ritual, both the groom and bride families fast for the prosperity and well-being of the to-be-weds. Viratham irukum murai (steps followed for fasting) in a Tamil Iyengar wedding is far more elaborate for the groom than the bride.
Viratham for the Bride
The bride’s father performs poojas for jadakarna(writing the jadagam or horoscope), namakarana (naming ceremony), annaprasanam(feeding rice) and chooda karma (first haircut). These rituals are mandatory for the bride to become a brahmin as per shasthras.
Viratham for the Groom
The groom’s father should have performed the jadakarna, namakarana, annaprasanam and chowlam for the groom during his upanyanam function. These are done for the groom to become a brahmin as per shasthas. If this was not done, it has to be performed first.
The viratham for the groom begins with invocations to Gods Indra(Wind), Soma (Sun), Chandra (Moon) and Agni (Fire). After this, the groom prepares for a new chapter in his life as a grihasta (married man). He accepts that his days as a brahmachari(bachelor) are over. The sacred thread tied by brahmins called the poonal has three strings when the groom is a bachelor and is changed to six strings when he enters married life. This ritual is performed during the viratham. Later, the prospective mother-in-law of the groom applies mai(kajal) to the groom as a dhristi pottu(black dot) to ward off evil from her to-be son-in-law.
What is done for both the Bride and Groom?
A red nalangu paste made of a mixture of kumkum and turmeric is applied to their hands and feet. Kaapu, a white thread that is soaked in turmeric paste is tied on the hands of the bride and groom respectively. This thread is meant to ward off evil spirits and to protect them from any negativity. It is also an indication that they have become the bride and the groom and are hence restricted only to the kalyana mandapam till the muhurtham ritual is complete.