Imagine a wedding without a priest, or a wedding without reciting mantras.. or how about a sangeet without a wedding DJ?
Coorgi (or Kodava) Weddings are a stem apart from the other kinds of the weddings celebrated in India; Simplicity is the key to Coorgi weddings. It’s a family-oriented occasion which focuses on building up a bond between the two families and is entirely based on the blessings of the elders. Prayers are offered to ancestors at the sacred lamp and the wedding ceremony is guided by elders whose blessings are sought.
Baale Birud: Stem Cutting
A typical coorgi wedding lasts up-to two to three days. The main ritual performed is called ‘Baale birud” - On the path leading to the wedding hall, a row of nine or more (multiples of three) banana plant stems are fixed vertically to small wooden stakes driven into the ground. A relative from the bride's family are given the honour of cutting these stems when the groom arrives. He cuts the stems one by one, each with a single stroke, exhibiting his strength and skill. He then dances joyfully to the beat of the valaga music along with the assembled people.
Sammanda Kodupa: Bestowal of rights to the bride
The Groom and Bride are taken to the stage where they sit next to each other as elders of the family bless them one by one.
This is the essential ceremony that solemnizes the marriage. The elders of the bride’s and the groom’s stand in front of the sacred lamp and recite the traditional dialogue that bestows the rights to the bride. The dialogue is characterized by a few exaggerated and humorous comments, and the elders improvise on it with some friendly banter.
Batte Thadpa: Blocking the bride’s path
When the bride has received the sammanda rights, the groom is ready to lead his new wife to his house. However, the bride's bava (cross-cousin), who could have married her by tradition, blocks her path at the threshold, claiming that she is his by right. After much hilarious arguing and bargaining, the bava accepts a gold coin from the groom and lets her go.
Ganga Puje: The bride fetches water from a well
This ceremony (that is traditionally held in the groom’s house) follows later in the evening. It symbolizes the bride becoming a part of the groom's family and helping in the household chores.
She breaks a coconut and drops the coconut halves also into the well. If she cannot break the coconut easily she is teased, and women around her claim to be able to predict the gender of her first child.
The bride then draws water from the well and pours it into each of four small pots. She balances two of the pots on her head, one on top of the other. Two young girls from the groom's family carry a pot each and walk with the bride, one in front and one behind her.
This procession now returns to the wedding hall, accompanied by the wedding band playing a slow beat. The bride takes very small steps to the beat of the music. Members of the groom's family dance in front of her, welcoming her to the house. These days they often dance for hours (and brag about it later), slowing the bride’s walk and testing her stamina!
Right after this ritual everybody emerges in drinking and food which is followed by a night full of music and dance! After they receive the blessings, Groom showers rice on Bride’s head and they exchange Jasmine garlands.
After all the rituals are played, Bride finally arrives to Groom’s house, she is made to fetch water from the well which is considered her official entry to the Groom’s family.
The Coorgi Wedding is a celebration full of unique rituals, family bonding, and a lot of fun! Try identifying these customs in the film "There Will Be Time" where Cauvery ties the knot with Cariappa - embedded below!