Matrimony sees multiple ways in India. Within every community, you have a multitude of slight variations that let each people hold their own. A difference of a ring ceremony here, the addition of one or two wedding moments in the wedding album, it goes on to completely define a style of wedding. If you ever have the chance to be part of Christian matrimony in Kerala or well you are or have ever been Christian bride or groom in Kerala, you’ve come to understand the subtle differences come with being a Nasrani(Syrian Orthodox) and a Catholica(Roman Catholics).
Oh, you’re getting married soon and have no clue what these variations are? Don’t worry, it happens, we’re not all equally culturally assimilated. The Syrian Keralite matrimony and Catholic matrimony have very minor differences as their sect promotes, while Syrian Christians have a mix of Hindu and Christian rituals, Catholics have an understated set of Christian rituals. Let’s list them out, shall we?
Beginning with the similarities,
The marriage proposal in both sects is extended to the groom’s family by the bride’s elders who then exchange a letter of promise with the groom’s side at their house. This is called achaarakalyanam or othukalyanam depending on which part of Kerala you look at; only in the Syrian Marthomites will you see a reverse of this practice.
Now, in both sects, the following third Sunday is the big day, the manasamatham, literally translated to “consent of the heart” is arranged at the bride’s parish where traditionally they are asked about their willingness to marry each other. These days, the two may exchange rings.
Both sets of believers leave for their weddings having offered praise to God as well as dakshina to their elders.
So, we note the difference now and to be honest, it’s blink and miss. The madhuramvekkal, the offering of sweet to the bride and groom on the eve of the wedding is only a Syrian Christian practice, so is the concept of the first shave and a henna night. In the Catholic belief, after the proclamation of banns, marriage counselling is undertaken at both parishes.
While Syrian Christian matrimony involves the groom’s sister placing a cake at the altar at the beginning of the wedding, a Roman Catholic couple lights the traditional lamp to mark their initiation into matrimony.
After a reading from the Bible, the bride kneels at the altar for the minnukettu where the groom aided by the Priest places a thaali on a silk strand from the wedding saree, on her neck. The bride receives the blessed mantrakodi from the priest. This is an almost identical practice followed by both sects.
At the conclusion of the wedding rituals, a Catholic priest offers appam and veenju, symbolic of Christ’s flesh and blood. If you’re a foodie, you won’t be disappointed by either communities because a sumptuous feast ensues.
In Keralite matrimony, a mixed marriage between the sects happens only after conversion into either beliefs.