While people from the Northern part of India have always been considered the front-runner whenever it comes to big fat, elaborate Indian weddings; southern zone of the country has never been far behind in terms of rich, culturally elaborate weddings. Though natives from South-India have always known to be simple and subtle in their ways and traditions yet their wedding rituals are quite interesting and rich in appeal.

Many a kinds of weddings are held down south from Andhra Pradesh to Kerala, Karnataka to Tamil Nadu – In the most beautiful ways. Be it a Hindu wedding, a Muslim or a Christian wedding in this part of the country – Weddings have always been worth a festivity.

The Tamil Brahmins or Keralite Vishwakarmas or the Nadar Christians – Weddings in these communities will keep you awestruck with the rich cultural and aesthetic value they emit from their rites and rituals.

In the southernmost part of India, that is the state of Tamil Nadu – There are several communities with a variety of rites and rituals. The Tamil Brahmins, the Tamil Iyers, the Tamil Nadars – These are various communities rich in traditional culture and the same is reflected in their weddings.

When it comes to weddings among Nadars, it is an elaborate affair for the families. A typical Nadar matrimony ceremony includes several kinds of ceremonies with a distinctive meaning and rituals and is hence celebrated with much pomp and show.

After a customary confirmation among families and the boy and the girl for the matrimonial alliance, the wedding is announced by the eldest member or the priest in the family among all relatives, friends and important community members.

The first of the pre-wedding ceremonies is the flower garland wearing ceremony in a typical Nadar wedding. The bride-groom’s parents, elders, relatives and friends come down to the house of the bride carrying gifts, new clothes, jewelry and gifts for her. They bring large and beautiful garlands of flowers for the bride and she is decked up in flowered jewelry by the mother of the bride-groom. In case of absence of the mother of the bride-groom, the ritual is covered either by the sister or the sister-in-law of the bride-groom. They are then followed by all other female family members of the bride-groom who take turns in decking up the bride with flowered jewelry. The bride is hence blessed and smeared with vibhuthi or kungumam by all elders present there.

Following this, the eldest members of both the families are made to sit across each other and exchange gifts among both the families in terms of cash, clothes, fruits, flowers and jewelry on the thambulam or the welcome plate; after honoring each other with vibhuthi and flower garlands. Next in suite is the pattu kattuthal ceremony which is honored by the bride-groom’s family in the bride’s house by blessing the bride with a beautiful new silk saree. The bride is then blessed by the elders in the family who apply vibhuthi or kungumam on her forehead.

The gold-melting ceremony is an interesting ceremony among the Nadars and is necessarily held at the bride-groom’s residence. A beautiful traditionally designed thali is made by the bride-groom’s family and gifted to the family of the bride-groom. A small piece of gold is put on the thali by the bride’s family for gold melting. A goldsmith melts the gold piece and performs a puja and takes along a small part of the melted gold with him. He is escorted out of the house by a woman with a child as she is considered auspicious with her child.

After the gold melting ceremony, there is a puja ceremony held in both the houses of the bride and the groom. A palmyrah stick, smeared with turmeric powder and kungumam with mango leaves tied to it. It is then worshipped with rice kept in a vessel in front of it which is later given off to a woman who measures the rice.

A day or two before the wedding, the families of the bride and the groom perform puja to the Almighty and souls of their ancestors seeking blessings for the wedding and the couple’s happy married life.

Among the Nadars, the engagement or the betrothal ceremony is generally held a day prior to the wedding day. This includes the ceremonial exchange of rings and pre-wedding vows between the bride and the bride-groom.

On the day of the marriage, the maternal uncle of the bride-groom and the bride initiate the customs. They individually garland their nephews and niece respectively and offer their blessings to the to-be-wed. The bride is then gifted a saree by the bride-groom’s female family members which she wears for the marriage. Hence after a thali is tied around her neck by the bride-groom and after seeking blessings from elders, they apply vibhuthi on each other’s forehead and exchange garlands. After the villakku darshan of the couple by the brother of the groom, the couple is offered to consume milk and banana. The rituals finally get over by the oil bathing of the newlywed by the groom’s family after which the bride leaves for her husband’s house. After offering of prayers, the couple again comes back to the bride’s house where the day gets over with a sumptuous feast by the bride’s family.

How do Filipinos celebrate weddings may sound strange to foreigners, but if they do get a chance to witness a traditional Filipino wedding, they will certainly love the experience. Weddings in the Philippines are never a one-day event. The wedding preparation takes months. And then comes the wedding day itself which in most cases begins from sun-up to sundown.

Filipino weddings are typically solemnized in the church, officiated by a Catholic priest or a pastor, depending on the religion of the couple. Garden weddings have become quite popular these days, too, but usually they are allowed only when it is not going to be a Catholic wedding.. If it is, the couple must have been married in civil rites first for them to obtain permission to get married in a garden or non-church setting.

Catholic wedding ceremonies, regardless of where thuey are celebrated, usually takes more than an hour to finish. The bride arrives in a bridal car, a carriage, or mode of transportation for that matter just minutes before the wedding. Then the church bells ring, signaling the start of the ceremony. The wedding ceremony begins with the processional of the wedding entourage composed of the groom, the parents of the groom, the principal sponsors (some have as many as 20 pairs of principal sponsors!) who will stand as witnesses, secondary sponsors who will light the candles, and put on the veil and cord, the maid or matron of honor, the best man, the bride’s maids and junior bride’s maids, the coin bearer, the ring bearer, the bible bearer, the flower girls, and finally the bride who may or may not be accompanied by her parents. Sometimes, the processional alone can take 20 minutes already!

The mass proper then begins; incorporated therein are the wedding rituals such as the exchange of vows, the exchange of rings, and the giving of the arrhae. A photo shoot after the mass is customary. This can take another 30 minutes to one hour. If you want this portion to be organized, better get the services of a professional photographer who has vast experience taking wedding photographs.

After the wedding, the guests proceed to the reception. It can be in a hotel or in the bride’s residence. Hotel wedding receptions can be very expensive, but they can be less stressful for the couple and their families as they no longer need to stress themselves out any more than they already have. Wedding receptions held in the house are more comfortable and fun, though. All the neighbors get to be invited which make the affair very memorable. They are also less expensive, but can be more tiring.

During the wedding reception, the usual rituals, such as the slicing of the cake, the throwing and catching of bouquet and garter, and the releasing of doves, are observed, with some variations. There is an abundance of food, lots of table-hopping, greeting friends and guests, picture-taking, dancing, singing, and tears of joy.

So how do Filipinos celebrate weddings? Well, Filipino weddings are joyously celebrated, that’s for sure!