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RITUALS

  

Naidu marriages have ceremonies, rites and rituals that are full of symbolism and rich significance. There is a strong emphasis on spirituality. The rites are conducted by a purohit or priest. The marriage usually takes place in any month with the exception of the months Aashad, Bhadrapad and Shunya, which are

considered inauspicious for weddings.

The following are the rituals during the marriage:
Kanyadaan
The Naidu marriage ceremony is striking as well as fabulous. It has the girl's mama or the maternal uncle carrying the bride in a bamboo basket to the mandap. The bride is well adorned in a bright coloured saree and precious jewellery. It is customary for the bride to carry some betel leaves, betel nuts, a coconut, a sandalwood stick and a red pumpkin. The procedure of the marriage is such that a curtain is placed between the bride and groom, so that they do not see each other till the wedding is completed.

At the end of the marriage, the father and mother of the bride clean the boy's feet with water. It is done with the view that the groom is considered as a form of God. In most of the Hindu marriages, the groom is equalled to the god and the giving away of daughter in marriage to him is regarded as gifting the most loved thing of yours to Lord Vishnu himself. Also it is associated with the ritual practice of gifting a virgin to the groom who is no less than Vishnu. In a way, it also means that the parents are blessing the daughter with a husband who is as good as their God.

Madhuparkam
Madhuparkam would have the boy and the girl wearing a white dhoti and sari respectively, with a red border. The garments are of cotton. The priest recites shlokas from the Vedas and the bride and the groom place jeerakaalu-bellamu (Jaggery mix) on each other’s heads. This signifies that as two different ingredients mix together so should a husband and a wife.

Mangalsutra Ceremony
The Mangalsutra is generally a gold chain with gold and black beads. The groom ties the Mangalsutra around the neck of the bride with three knots.

Kanya Daan Akshata
At the end of the Mangalsutra ceremony, the couple put garlands around each other's necks. All those assembled, shower flower petals and rice as a blessing. This is called Akshata, the offering of uncooked, turmeric-coloured rice.

Saptapadi
Saptapadi is a ceremony that has the bride and the groom taking seven steps together around the fire. In each round they utter mantras which add to strengthen the marriage. As they take the pheras, the bride's saree and groom's dhoti ends are tied into a knot. This signifies the culmination of the marriage.

NIVEDITA SRIKANTH
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