Weddings are incomplete without the use of floral decorations and garlands. The smell of pungent flowers hanging off ceilings, swaying to the tunes of a Nadaswaram are something that enhance the celebratory mood of the day. However, it is the floral garlands and the garland ceremony called Maalai Matrudhal that holds importance in the wedding rituals. Particularly, in a Tamil Mudaliyar wedding, this ceremony is believed to follow the vedic ritual of exchange of garlands between the bride and groom signifying deeper meanings.
Significance of Maalai Matrudhal Ritual in Tamil Mudaliyar Weddings
As per the Vedas, it was believed that the Hindu Gods and Goddesses performed a Maalai Matrudhal at the time of their marriage. Following this act, generations followed whereby a girl of marriageable age would choose her suited husband from many suitors by putting a garland around his neck in a ceremony called Swayamvar. The act of putting a garland around the man she chooses to be her husband is a way of showing her acceptance.
A Mudaliar kalyanam too has a Malai Matrudhal ceremony similar to the Swayamvar ceremony. Once the groom arrives at the kalayana mandapam, he awaits his bride who eventually joins him with her family, who usher her onto the stage. The Malai Maatrudhal ceremony starts with the bride putting the garland around her groom first to show she accepts him as her husband. The groom mirrors the ritual to show his acceptance of her as his wife. The ceremony is enriched with the loud and special music played on the Nadaswaram. Legend has it that the malai maatrudhal ceremony empowers the belief of unification of two souls as one.
Adding the Fun Element
Special floral arrangements are carefully made using beautiful flowers when making these garlands. A fun element of this ceremony lies in the fact that families and friends make it difficult for the bride and groom to put the garland around each other’s neck by pulling each partner away playfully. Once the ceremony is completed, the couple progresses to other sacred rituals as guided by the priest. The garlands used in the ceremony are preserved carefully for as long as possible as they are considered pure.