The Nalangu ceremony is yet another major pre-wedding ceremony of Vanniyar Tamil matrimony rituals. This ceremony is carried out separately for the bride and groom before they head towards the main ceremony.
Each of them is made to sit on a plank. There will be a group of 5 women waiting to smear them with oil. A culm of grass (Cynodon Dactylon) is used for smearing the oil. Then Green gram paste is applied too. Arathi is done and turmeric water is also sprinkled.
After this ritual, they have to be taken to a bathing place. During the bath, 5 small cakes are placed on various body parts like the head, shoulders, limbs etc. Before the groom leaves the bathing spot, some cooked rice is waved before him in a sieve. This is then discarded. All these signify the removal of negative energy and evil eyes so that the couple is blessed with purity and positivity as they prepare themselves for married life.
Nalangu Ritual in Tamil Vanniyar Kula Kshatriyar Weddings
The couple is then taken to a dais and they go around this thrice. Pongal, a special dish, is prepared and this is given as an offering to the Gods, ancestors and villagers. This rice is cooked by a new mother, who has just given birth to her first child. There will be 5 pots of cooked Pongal.
Once this ritual is over, the couple moves to get dressed in all their wedding finery and proceed to the venue for tying the Thali. By the time they are ready, the next ritual of setting up a plough or milk post will be awaiting them. Alongside there will be a grindstone, two lamps called kuda-vilakku (pot light), alankara-vilakku (ornamental light) and a large pot, which are all required for the ritual. Care is taken to ensure that the lighted lamps do not flicker off during the ceremony. It is considered unlucky if the pot light goes off in between.
Significance of Erecting the Vanni Posts
Here again one gets to see history being repeated as the first of the posts supporting the venue is cut from the Vanni (Prosopis spicigera) Tree. According to ancient belief, the Pandavas, who were also Kshatriyas, hid their arms and other weapons in the branches of the Vanni tree when they wandered in the forest. The weapons would turn into snakes and return to their original form only upon their owner's return. So the use of this wood is considered to grant the user's wishes and win the fight of good over evil.