VRATHAM (THE MATRIMONIAL VOW)
This ceremony is performed by the bridegroom before the marriage ceremony. The bride performs Jathakarma & Namakarna ritual before actual commencement of wedding ceremony. While the groom conducts the ceremony himself, guided by the pundits, the father of the bride performs Jathakarma & Namakarna on her behalf. Oblations are poured into agni in tribute to the Vedic-Gods, – invoking them individually. It is a solemn request to the Gods, inviting them to witness the oath taking and the marriage ceremony. The pundit chants the appropriate mantras while the groom pours he oblations into the agni. After invoking each God the pundit pronounces ‘Avahayami’ (The Gods have arrived) followed by ‘Idham Asanam’ (The Gods are seated). The belief is that the Gods shall stay throughout the Wedding and shower the blessings on the couple and the congregation. Some of the Gods invoked are Soma (for fine progeny), Varuna (abundance and wealth), Brahaspathi (impeccable morals and conduct), Gandharvas (conjugal bliss), Indra (power and protection), Adityas, Visvadevas (health, long life and compassion), and Surya (the Sun – purity, wisdom and peace). After completion of this ceremony, a yellow thread soaked in turmeric solution is tied on the wrists of the groom and the bride. This is called Kappu or Kankanam (a protective charm to indicate they are under oath). The Couple are exhorted to abide by the Vedic dictum on moral, social and spiritual obligations and responsibilities of married life. The bridegroom repeats these mantras as narrated by the pundits. After this oath, nine earthen bowls are brought containing edible seeds (lentils, rice). Water is poured into these bowls. The seeds sprout and are immersed in a river later. This ceremony is called palikai, and symbolizes fertility and compatibility.