The Tamil Iyer wedding rituals start early in the morning with a Mangala Snaanam. It typically translates as ‘purifying bath’. The mangala snanam decorations are done with colourful flowers and the ritual is performed separately by the bride and groom.
Procedure for Mangala Snaanam Ritual in Tamil Brahmin Iyer Weddings
- On the wedding day, a paste of sandalwood, kumkum, and turmeric is made by sumalgalis (married women whose husband is alive)
- Once the paste is made, it will be applied to the bride’s/groom’s face, hands, and feet
- Oil is also applied to the bride’s /groom’s hair by married women (sumangalis)
- They take turns to apply oil and massage the paste on the bride/groom's face, hands, and feet
Significance of Mangala Snaanam Ritual in Tamil Brahmin Iyer Weddings
- The Mangala Snaanam for bride ritual is a great example of the thought our forefathers put into the events that should be conducted in marriages.
- Turmeric has great significance in Indian culture and is used in almost all functions and it may be because of the numerous benefits it offers. It has healing and anti-inflammatory properties which are extremely good for the skin.
- Coupled with sandalwood this paste gives a great glow to the skin and makes the face radiant.
- Additionally, massaging it on the body relaxes the body and mind and hence reduces any marriage stress or tension the bride and groom have. The forefathers had everything figured out, only we didn't realize it earlier.
The bride and groom will then take a bath in holy water (to cleanse their body and soul) which is believed to purify their soul and body literally. Each ingredient used has its significance.
Turmeric: For its antibacterial properties that soothe the skin. It is also a cleanser and symbolically a purifier.
Sandalwood: Its anti-aging property ensures the couple’s skin looks fresh and young
Milk: Acts as a great cleanser for skin and is metaphorically understood as “free-flowing” abundance
Kumkum: Mixing this with turmeric is considered auspicious and bestows long life on the wearer.