Maalai Maatrudal means ‘exchange of garlands’. This is one of the wedding rituals in Tamil Iyer weddings that has a fun element attached to it. The families of both the groom and bride take an active part in this custom.
What Happens during Maalai Maatrudhal Ritual in Tamil Brahmin Iyer Wedding?
- Special colourful flower garlands are made with beautiful flowers such as the pinks of roja poo (roses), the oranges of kanakambaram (crossandra), the yellows of sammanthi poo (marigold) and the whites of malli poo (jasmine) and mullai (Arabian jasmine). To add more colour, purple orchids and red carnations are also added to some garlands.
- The priest asks the bride to garland the groom
- The families and friends make it difficult for the to-be-married couple by pulling the bride and groom back when they try to garland to each other
- The respective maternal uncles assist the bride and groom in garlanding each other
- A special tune ‘maalai maatrinaal kothai maalai maatrinaal’ - a song that was specially composed for the Maalai Maatrudal is played on the Nadaswaram announcing the ‘garland exchange’ ritual to the gathering
- The garland is exchanged thrice by both the bride and groom
- Once the maalai maatrudal ceremony is completed, the bride and groom are guided towards the ‘swing’ for the ‘oonjal’.
The Significance of Maalai Maatrudhal Ritual in Tamil Brahmin Iyer Weddings
The Maalai Maatrudal is a meaningful tradition followed in almost all Hindu weddings. In ancient times it was used to denote a marriage proposal. A flower is a symbol of beauty, aspiration, enthusiasm, and happiness. The thread used to tie these flowers is a medium to bind these emotions and feelings.
Like how the thread never leaves the flowers despite the flower losing its beauty, the newly married couple should be with each other in the ups and downs of life and should lead a life with love, understanding, respect, and trust. It also means that they are a single entity with joint aspirations.