Indian Christian weddings are a magical affair. Merging the beauty of the western traditions with the rich cultural heritage of India, Christian weddings in India are indeed a beautiful celebration to be a part of. From the brides in white gowns to the brides in beautiful silk sarees - it is all very mesmerising. The beginning of Christianity in this region dates back to 52 AD when St Thomas Apostle arrived in Kerala to preach this religion.
To know more about the delightful blend of the west and the roots of our indigenous people in Kerala that is celebrated in a Kerala Christian wedding, we will take a walk through the beautiful ceremonies that are full of earnest worshipping and celebration of love.
From the religious ceremonies to what the bride and groom wear - we have meticulously picked all the knowledge in details for your understanding. Read on to know more about this beautiful celebration.
Kerala Christian Wedding Ceremonies, Rituals And Traditions
Image Courtesy: Bhargav Boppa Photography
Very similar to other Christian weddings in India, Kerala Christian weddings happen in a church too but the pre-wedding celebrations are heavily influenced by the culture of the region. And to help us know it better, Priya Sebastian and Ravi Iyer have spoken about their Kerala Christian wedding and here’s what they told us about their ceremonies, rituals and traditions.
“Ravi and I got married at Trivandrum and it was a dream come true. Now, when I say that I know it sounds like a grand celebration but ours was a simple wedding with just our immediate family and close friends,” told Priya.
This is the first ceremony that marks the beginning of the wedding preparations. During this ceremony, both the families meet each other and visit each other’s houses. Aacharakalyanam is basically an event where the wedding date is decided. Both, the bride’s and groom’s family exchange sweets and celebrate the confirmation of a wedding date. This ceremony has been a part of Kerala Christian weddings for ages and it draws similarity with many Indian pre-wedding traditions of other cultures.
This is the second ceremony that happens at every Kerala Christian wedding after the Aacharakalyanam is the Manasamantham ceremony, i.e. the betrothal. The bride’s family, as well as the groom’s family, get together at a church where the priest confirms that both families accept this wedding in presence of two witnesses. Traditionally speaking, the exchange of rings is not actually supposed to be done during this ceremony - but with the millennials, it has gradually become an important part of the Manasamatham ceremony. This ceremony concludes with a feast.
“Priya and I exchanged rings during the Manasamatham ritual and got officially engaged. Though engagement is not traditionally a part of this ceremony, we did it anyway because we wanted to,” said Ravi.
Sthuthi Cholluka & Guru Dakshana
Stuthi Cholluka and Guru Dakshana are two ceremonies that happen on the wedding day. Stuthi Cholluka is a tradition where a series of prayers are performed at the bride and groom's respective houses and is considered an auspicious beginning to the ceremonies.
Guru Dakshana, on the other hand, as the name suggests is a tradition where the bride takes blessings from her elders and so does the groom. Even this ceremony takes place in their respective residences.
The bride and groom are then welcomed at the church where the wedding ceremonies are going to be conducted. To welcome the couple, little girls with flowers in hand walk down the aisle before them and then the other people (guests and family members enter the church). The families get fruit baskets and flowers to the church to shower their blessings on the bride and groom's big day.
The Wedding Ceremony & Minnukettu
The bride and groom make their way to the altar by walking down the aisle. Right behind them the parents of the bride and groom are seated followed by the rest of the relatives and their friends in that order. The first step of their wedding ceremony is to light a lamp together. It’s followed by reading of Bible verses by the priest. these verses can also be chosen by the bride and teh groom before-hand. As both bride and the groom agree to be the man and the wife, all the families, guests and the bride & the groom proceed for the next ritual.
After which the Minnukettu ceremony takes place. Minnukettu is one of the most important ceremonies in a Kerala Christian wedding. During this ceremony, the groom ties a Minnu (a type of thaali), a thread of seven strings made out of a Manthrakodi, a light coloured (usually cream coloured) saree, around the bride’s neck. Later, this string is replaced by a gold chain and the priest blesses the Manthrakodi which is mostly a light-coloured or cream saree, and then the priest gives this Manthrakodi to the bridegroom. He puts this saree over the bride’s head, and the priest again gives his blessings to the Manthrakodi before putting it around the neck of the bride.
At the end of this wedding ceremony, the couple signs their names in the register along with two witness’s signatures. With this, the marriage gets officially registered and the bride changes her costume to wear the Manthrakodi.
Kerala Christian Wedding - What To Wear
In India, there are so many different types of wedding attires brides are seen wearing. But a Kerala Christian bride wears the most unique combination of a saree and a veil. The saree is usually white, off-white or cream in colour with a golden border. The fabric that most brides prefer is silk. Typically, the brides carry their saree on their left shoulder, pleated neatly. The accessories include a watch and bangles on her wrist, a light bridal necklace to go with the saree and a pair of shiny earrings to complete the look. Some brides also prefer wearing a tiara. What makes a Kerala Christian bride stand apart from the rest, is her beautiful net veil. She walks down the aisle, looking gorgeous as ever, with a bunch of flowers in her hands and a smile on her face.
Image Courtesy: Black Paper
It is said that men don’t have too many options when it comes to choosing their wedding outfit. While we agree that the choices for the groom in comparison with the bride are less, but there are still so many things men can experiment with. Traditionally, the groom wears a three-piece suit on his wedding day. Though, these days a lot of men prefer wearing a tuxedo too. While a lot of grooms play safe with colours like black and navy blue, there are daring men who explore their looks by going for slightly offbeat colours like electric blue, beige or even the classic brown. The groom can also wear a bow-tie instead of a tie and a pocket square to keep his look chic as ever.
For the wedding guests who are going to attend Kerala Christian Wedding, it’s important to note that these weddings are a simple affair and don’t require too much bling. One should wear clothes that are simple yet stylish. It can be a flowy chiffon saree or an evening gown for women, and a simple shirt-pant combination or a suit for men. Bridesmaids have often flaunted similar silhouettes as a part of the bride's party and the groomsmen have also shown off in their suited selves. The elder women almost always wear a silk saree paired with beautiful jewellery.
We hope you now know everything about a Kerala Christian wedding. Don’t forget to keep all these points in mind when you are planning your big day.
Until then, let us know if you have any more questions about a Kerala Christian wedding in the comment section below.