When I announced my wedding back in Jan, I got several requests asking me to share all the wedding pictures and Telugu Rituals. So here is a complete walkthrough of all the rituals I had on my traditional Hindu Telugu wedding day with a detailed explanation of every ritual and pictures 🙂
The Telugu Hindu wedding is the traditional wedding ceremony of the Telugu people from the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in India. Like other Indian weddings, Telugu weddings are full of life, and colors and filled with traditions and rituals. In the 19th century, a Telugu wedding ceremony could last up to sixteen days (Padahaaru Rojula Panduga). But today it goes up to 2-5 days.
Our wedding was a 5-day affair with 3 major events: a bride/groom-making ceremony, wedding, and reception and 5 mini-events like Mehandi, Homam, Satyanarayana Vratham, etc. I always wanted a simple, colorful, and very traditional wedding that connected to our roots. I am happy to say my wedding was JUST that. From the wedding decorations to wedding customs and procedures, choosing the wedding sarees, jewelry, etc. everything was conventional, and exactly how I wanted (apart from a few minor mishaps here and there).
Without further ado, let’s get into all the rituals I had JUST on my wedding day. It’s a long post so grab your cup of coffee and hop on it!
15 Telugu Rituals I Had on my Traditional Indian Wedding Day
1. Mangala Snanam
Mangala Snanam is a part of the bride (Pellikuthuru) and groom (Pellikodudku) making ceremony or bridal shower. This ceremony can take place multiple times. We had ours twice, once the day before the wedding and also on the wedding day. The pictures are from our event on the day before the wedding.
In this Telugu ritual, the bride and groom are smeared with turmeric in their respective homes at the muhurtham time (auspicious time) and then given a holy bath with turmeric water to cleanse their body and mind before the sacred ritual of becoming one (the wedding). This event is called ‘Mangala Snanam‘ (‘Mangala’ means holy, ‘Snanam’ means bath). After the bath, the bride and the groom are dressed in the first set of wedding clothes.
This is followed by ‘mangala arthi‘, a small lamp is lit and placed on a plate along with turmeric, vermilion, and sandalwood circled in front of the bride and groom. This is done to keep them safe from the evil eye and to seek God’s blessing through all the wedding proceedings.
2. Ganesha and Gowri Puja
Gowri puja is done by the bride at her house while the Ganesh puja is done by the groom at the venue. The bride offers her prayers to the goddess Gauri as she is the symbol of fertility and motherhood and prays for a similar ideal relationship that the goddess has with her husband, Lord Shiva.
I did the Gouri puja as part of my pre-wedding ritual called Pradhanam on the evening before the wedding day. In the picture above, the cutie-pie sitting beside me is my darling niece Mahiraa. She was my ‘Thodi Pellukuthuru‘, equivalent to maid-of-honor to keep the bride company. Usually, Thodi pellukuthuru or Thodi pellikoduku (the best man) are younger kids.
Before the bride enters the Mandapam (the stage or platform where the wedding is performed), the groom performs the Ganesh Puja. All the auspicious occasions begin with a Ganesh Pooja in the Hindu religion since Lord Ganesha is believed to remove any obstacles in the way. Hence Ganesh puja is the first ritual that happens at the venue or Mandapam.
3. Bride’s and Groom’s Entry & Terasala
My parents and my entire family accompanied me to the venue. In some traditions, the bride is seated in a straw basket and is carried to the mandapam by her maternal uncle.
While Rajesh was accompanied by my brother (above pic: in the pink suit). The bride’s brother first washes the groom’s feet at the entrance and brings him and his family to the Mandapam.
Until the Jeelakara Bellam ritual is complete, the bride and groom are not supposed to look at each other hence a curtain is placed between them called the Addutera or Terasala (‘tera’ means screen).
4. Kanyadanam and Panigrahanam
Kanyadanam meaning “giving away of the bride (“Kanya” meaning young lady & “dan” meaning giving away/ donation). This ceremony is where the bride’s family officially gives her hand to the groom.
First, the bride’s parents wash the groom’s feet considering the groom as the manifestation of Lord Vishnu who has come to marry their daughter who is considered as goddess Lakshmi.
Amidst the chanting of sacred mantras and “sannai mellam” (the music of clarinet) the bride’s parents place their daughter’s hand in the groom’s hand and give away their daughter. As per Hinduism, ‘Kanyadanam’ is considered a highly noble act a father can perform.
Next, the groom is asked to hold the bride’s hand which is called “panigrahanam” and promise the bride’s parents that he will remain her companion in thick and thin.
The following Mantra is uttered thrice by the groom.
Dharmecha, Arthecha, Kamecha, Thaya Aham Evam Naati Charami!
“Righteously, financially, by desire, spiritually, I will not walk away from her!!”
5. JeelaKarra Bellam or Sumuhrutham
This is the main event of the Telugu wedding. ‘Jeelakara’ means Cumin and ‘Bellam’ means Jaggery in Telugu. The ritual starts by giving a paste of cumin and jaggery on the hands of the couple. Exactly at the Sumuhrutham (the auspicious time that is determined by matching the astrology of the bride and groom, this is the “wedding time” that is written in the wedding invitations and elsewhere), the couple place this paste on each other’s heads, moving their hands above the curtain. This is the point at which the couple is now officially man and wife and the curtain separating them is then removed.
The paste of Cumin and Jaggery (Jellakara and Bellam) indicates that the couple will stick together through the bitter and sweet phases of life. It is also believed that the couple interchange each other’s thoughts and destinies interlinking their lives, by applying the paste on each other’s heads.
All the elders bless the couple with ‘akshantalu‘ (rice grains mixed with turmeric powder) while the younger ones congratulate them.
In the pic above (left to right) Rajesh’s parents and my parents are blessing us.
After the Jeelakara-Bellam, the bride and groom leave to their respective rooms and change into ‘madhuparakam’. These Madhuparakam are basically white clothes with either a red, yellow or green border. The white color indicates purity or loyalty and the red/yellow/green indicates strength – the essential traits of any marriage. After changing into their new clothes, the bride and groom return to the Mandapam for the next set of rituals.
7. Mangal Sutra Dharana
The Mangalsutram or thaali, the sacred yellow thread smeared with turmeric and attached with 2 separate gold pendants called ‘sutralu‘ is tied by the groom around the bride’s neck in 3 knots amidst the fast beat of ‘sannai mellam’ (shehnai).
The three knots refer to the groom’s promise to accept the bride as his wife by 3 means – Manasa (thoughts), Vacha (speech), and karmana (actions). The ritual signifies the complete union of the couple: physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Mangalsutram or the necklace is the main identifying mark of a married woman in almost all the states of India. The yellow thread is replaced with a gold chain on the 16th day of the wedding.
This is the fun part of the wedding where not only the couple but the entire family enjoys. In this ritual, the bride and groom pour ‘Talambralu’ (rice mixed with turmeric) on each other’s heads like a shower.
The first 3 times, the couple shower ‘Talambralu’ on each other properly, after that it becomes a competition on who pours more. Now, other things like rose petals, pearls, and colorful thermocol balls are also mixed in the rice.
In the spirit of the game, the friends and relatives gather on respective sides of the couple and they pull them back while the other is trying to pour like in the above pic, I am being pulled back by my cousins so that Rajesh can’t reach me. This event brings out a lot of laughter and enjoyment all around and the event signifies the happiness and prosperity of the marriage.
9. Dandalu – Exchange of Garlands
After Talambralu, the bride and groom exchange garlands which signify the bride and groom accepting each other as partners.
10. Sthalipakam & Nalla Pusalu
In this ritual, the bride’s maternal uncle adorns the second toe of the bride with a silver toe ring. This is followed by the groom adorning the bride with a necklace of gold and black beads called ‘Nalla pusalu’ in Telugu. Nalla pusalu is meant to free the bride from the effects of the evil eye.
The mangalsutram, silver toe ring and the nalla pusalu Identify married women in India just like the wedding ring in Western countries. So they are worn every day by married women in India.
Apart from cultural significance, wearing toe rings also have medicinal benefits. According to Ayurveda, Toe rings regulate the menstrual cycle, thus increasing the chances of conception. Also, the pressure felt on the second toe while walking helps ease the pain during intercourse.
‘Sapta’ means seven and ‘padi’ means steps together its saptapadi (seven steps). This ritual is done differently in various regions. In some traditions, this involves the bride and groom taking seven steps around the sacred fire (homam). The groom leads the first three rounds and the bride leads the next 4.
In our tradition, seven steps involve the bride touching 7 betelnuts while holding the groom’s hands. Then the bride and the groom press each other toe 3 times representing equality in the marriage. The seven steps represent seven vows of marriage.
- to nourish each other.
- to grow together in strength.
- to preserve our wealth.
- to share our joys and sorrows.
- to care for our joys and sorrows.
- to care for our children and parents.
- to remain friends lifelong.
12. Brahma Mudi
Following Talambralu and Dandalu, Brahma mudi is conducted in which a set of betelnuts, dried dates, turmeric twig, betel leaf, and some currency coins are tied to the loose ends of the bride’s saree and to the groom’s Kanduva (Shawl). Then these 2 knots (bride’s and groom’s ) are tied together which is called Brahma Mudi indicated that both the bride and groom should maintain good relations with either of the families.
13. The Ring Game
The most fun-filled ritual in a Telugu wedding is the “finding the ring” ceremony. In this ritual, 2 rings are dropped (one gold and one silver) inside the water pot. The bride and groom put their right arm into it to see who picks the gold ring first. It is the best of the 3 series, whoever finds the gold ring twice is the winner and is said to have the upper hand in the marriage. This ritual is equally fun for the families as they cheer their respective sides. Can you guess who won?
In the picture above, the right side of my family cheering me while on the left side is Rajesh’s family.
The hilarious part is when the priest pretends to drop the ring and the bride and groom end up searching for it. The above picture is one of those moments when the priest didn’t drop the rings in the pot.
That is me smiling ear to ear for winning one game out of the three :P. Rajesh claims that he let me win that game which might be true but I will never agree to it in front of him 😀
14. Arundhati Nakshatram
In this ritual, the couple is taken out of the Mandapam by the priest to spot the Arundhati and Vasistha nakshatram (star) in the sky. The groom points out the stars to his bride. Arundhati and Vasistha represent an ideal couple hence they are shown the couple as an example.
The final ceremony in a Telugu wedding is called Appaginthalu where the bride’s family officially handover the bride to the groom’s family. After this ritual, the bride leaves the Mandapam with the groom to his home. This is usually the most emotional moment for the bride and her family.
Like this? check out my other Posts on Indian Culture and Sarees
- Wedding Saree Trends
- What I wore for V’s first Birthday
- Satyanarayana Puja Decoration and Details
- Mint & Purple Banarasi Saree
- Varalakshmi Vratam