attends a typical village wedding
The ‘magul gedara’ - a big social event
wedding is the biggest event in a village family, particularly for
the bride’s family. The relations would eagerly await the
big day having been invited in the traditional style by the bride’s
parents visiting the home and announcing the date and time by offering
betel placed on a ‘bulath heppuwa’ - betel tray and
covered with a white handkerchief. The head of the family would
take a leaf from the tray by lifting the handkerchief thereby indicating
that he has accepted the invitation on behalf of the family.
party too would invite their relations in the same way. Even if
there are misunderstandings among families, a wedding is one occasion
when these are forgotten and an invitation extended to come for
There is much
more preparations in a bride’s house than a bridegroom’s
because the wedding takes place at the bride’s residence.
Apart from tidying up the house, the womenfolk are kept busy preparing
traditional sweetmeats including ‘kevum’ (different
varieties like ‘athirasa’, ‘konda kevum’
and ‘mung kevum’) ‘kokis’ and ‘aasmi’
which are prepared in the house well in advance. The men will be
busy erecting the ‘magul maduwa’ - a separate shed in
the garden and decorating it for use as the reception hall.
There are specialists
in the village who will prepare the ‘poruva’ which will
be kept at a prominent place in the main hall facing a particular
direction as indicated by the astrologer. The ‘poruva’
is gaily decorated with flowers. A mat is laid out and a white cloth
stretched over it. Rice and silver and copper coins are spread over
the white cloth. Four fresh clay pots are kept in the four corners,
each pot carrying an opened ‘pol mala’. An oil lamp
is kept on top to be lit when the ‘poruva’ ceremony
starts. Betel is kept ready to be offered by the bridal couple to
the relatives at the given time.
On the day of
the wedding, the bridegroom’s party will leave at the auspicious
time and will time the journey in such a way as to arrive at the
bride’s residence ahead of the time for the ‘poruva’
ceremony. In the early days, the party would travel in carts but
today it is a motorcade that will bring the bridegroom’s party.
As the motorcade is sighted, a long line of crackers tied to two
trees will be lit and the entire village would get the message that
the party has arrived.
As the bridegroom
enters the house, a younger brother of the bride would pour a few
drops of water on the bridegroom’s shoes and he would drop
a ring to the basin of water. This is a modern adaptation of the
custom of washing the feet before entering the house. (Washing of
the feet by a member of the household is done when a Buddhist monk
comes to a house. This was quite logical because in early days monks
never wore slippers).
As the auspicious
time for the ‘poruva’ ceremony approaches, the bride
would be brought out from her room in her bridal costume. An uncle
of the bride leads her to the ‘poruva’ and as she steps
on the ‘poruva’, the groom too will join her. An elderly
male then sings ‘ashtaka’ - stanzas blessing the couple.
A bride’s uncle would tie the couple’s thumbs with a
thread and pour water from a ‘kendiya’ signifying that
the couple is married. The thread is removed at the end of the recital
The groom then
ties a necklace round the bride’s neck and the bride places
a ring on the groom’s finger. A bevy of girls sing ‘Jayamangala
Gathas’. Betel is then offered by the couple - first to the
bride’s parents and then to the groom’s parents followed
by close relatives. It is customary to offer a ‘kachhiya’
(40 yards) of cloth to the bride’s mother by the groom as
a token of appreciation for bringing up the daughter. Once the formalities
are over, a bride’s uncle helps the couple to step down from
the ‘poruva’ at which moment a coconut is split with
While the ‘poruva’
ceremony is on, the ‘magul mese’ - the long set of tables
stretching from one end of the ‘magul maduva’ to the
other, would be made ready. Dishes full of tasty food will be laid
out. The entire table(s) will be covered with white cloth to be
removed only after the couple come and occupy their seats.
The plates are
placed upside down. At the auspicious time, the couple would arrive
followed by the groom’s relations and after they sit, the
white cloth would be removed and the dishes displayed.
the space available a few close relations of the bride too will
join. Others wait for the second round. Prior to starting the meal,
an elderly person from the bride’s side would get up and speak
formally welcoming the groom’s party and wishing the couple
well. It is customary for someone from the groom’s party to
reply. The couple would continue to sit at the table until all the
guests take their turn at lunch. If they leave, it is considered
a mark of disrespect.
Until the auspicious
time for the couple to leave, the guests keep chatting. A few minutes
before the given time, the couple starts greeting the relations.
It is a sad moment for the bride’s mother to see the daughter
departing after being at home for so long. Yet it is for the good
of the daughter, she consoles herself.
As the couple
leaves along with the groom’s party, crackers will be lit
and the villagers would come on to the road to get a glimpse of