- Unroll the grass mat on the floor, facing the sanctum sanctorum, and overlay it with a white sheet. It is apt to also cover the white sheet with a silk cloth.
- Place a nirapara (picture below) and a bucket filled with paddy, on the unrolled sheet. (Para was the traditional paddy measuring unit used in Kerala households). It is preferable to secure coconut flowers for the ceremony (may be difficult to source). Coconut flowers could be substituted with flowers that could be placed in a plate.
The flowers will be used by the temple priest to perform Pooja.
- Place two oil lamps filled with oil and 5 cotton wicks inside the lamp on either side of the nirapara.
Fill a Kodivilakku (small oil lamp) with oil and place a cotton wick inside the lamp, place it next to the oil lamp. Ensure that the cotton wick is long and protrudes beyond the lip of the lamp so that it is easy to light it.
- Two garlands should be kept ready and placed on the mat in two steel or brass plates. Temple provides these garlands, however, sometimes the families might arrange for their own custom made garlands, hence confirm their preference at the time of booking the marriage.
- Groom’s family shall offer a Pudava or traditional Kerala saree, to the bride. This should be obtained from the groom’s family and placed on a brass or steel plate and kept on the mat.
- Rings shall be exchanged by the groom and the bride during the ceremony. Make sure that both the rings are available for the ceremony.
- Keep two containers filled with kumkum and sandalwood paste on the mat. Make sure that the sandalwood paste is wet. Temple shall provide the sandalwood paste as well as Kumkum. (Kumkum (Vermilion) is a unique cultural and spiritual symbol, and one of the most significant parts of the identity of Hindu women.)
- Keep a plate with a bunch of betel leaves and 10 betel nuts on the mat (two pairs). Also place a fistful of loonie coins on the plate.
- Keep a Kindi (image below) or beaker filled with water on the mat.
- Keep a plate filled with Avil or flattened rice and Jaggery on the mat. Temple shall supply both Avil and Jaggery. This is an offering to Lord Ganesha and should be consumed as a prasadam.
- Keep four incense sticks or agarbatties on the mat. Also cut a small piece of banana that would act as a stand for the incense sticks.
- A plate (thalam) with betel leaves, betel nuts and rose water should be kept ready. Check with the marriage parties as to how many people shall carry the thalams. Accordingly, the temple should prepare the number of thalams.
- Temple should test the audio system so that Naadhaswaram audio could be played during the muhoortham.
- Temple typically gifts the newlyweds by offering a temple souvenir as well as GTOB angavastram.
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- The bride and the bridegroom could arrive early and offer prayers to the lord and perform pradikshina (circumambulate) of the sreekovil. They could take pictures, however picture and videography of the idols is strictly prohibited. This has to be firmly communicated to both the parties at the time of booking as well as on the day of the marriage.
- Once the bride and bridegroom finish their prayers, explain to both of them their exact seating arrangement during the ceremony. Also explain to them that, after marriage they are not allowed to perform pradikshina inside the perimeter of main sreekovil. However, weather permitting, they could perform a full 360 degree pradikshinam outside the temple building.
- The bride’s family or the groom’s family shall get the Thaali from the temple priest after performing a Thaali Pooja. Make sure that the length of the chain or thread is long enough.
- As soon as the marriage ceremony is ready to commence, play the naadaswaram.
- The parents of the bride and bridegroom shall light the two lamps that are placed on the mat using the Kodi Vilakku. Tirumeni shall light the Kodi Vilakku.
- The parents of the bride shall fill the nelpara with paddy that is placed on the mat. Place the coconut flowers in the nelpara after it is filled with overflowing paddy.
- Honor the groom by welcoming him to the podium to the accompaniment of Ashta mangalya Thalam carried by ladies and naadaswaram being played in the background. The groom shall circumambulate the podium three times and shall seek blessing from both the parents (groom as well as bride’s parents). The groom shall be seated on the left side of the podium facing the main sanctum sanctorum. Rituals such as receiving the bridegroom by washing of his feet by the brother of the bride could be done outside the temple premises.
- Now honor the bride and welcome her to the podium to the accompaniment of Ashta mangalya Thalam carried by ladies and naadaswaram being played in the background. The bride shall circumambulate the podium 3 times and shall seek blessing from both the parents (groom as well as brides parents). The bride shall be seated to the groom’s right side, facing the main sanctum sanctorum.
- Both the bride and the bridegroom shall apply sandalwood paste on their forehead and shall pray seeking Lord’s blessings.
- This will be followed by the most auspicious moment “Thali Kettal” (Groom tying Thali around bride’s neck). The bride and the groom could perform this ritual either in a sitting or standing posture. At this time naadaswaram should be played at a very high pitch. The sister of bridegroom or his aunt could tie the Thali finally.
- This is followed by exchange of flower garlands. The bride shall garland the groom first followed by groom garlanding the bride.
- Next step is to exchange rings. The bride shall insert the ring into the ring finger of the bridegroom followed by the bridegroom inserting the ring into the ring finger of the bride.
- Now the bridegroom shall apply sindoor just above the forehead of the bride (at the hairline). The bride in turn shall apply sandalwood paste on the forehead of the bridegroom.
- The bridegroom shall now offer Pudava or garment to the bride.
- The father or uncle of the bride shall now hold the hand of the bride and hand it over to the bridegroom. The open palm of the right hand of the bride is held by open palm of the right hand of the bridegroom, you could place betel leaves in between the palms.
- Now the bridegroom and the bride shall circumambulate the podium 3 times, with held hands and the bridegroom leading the pradikshinam.
- Now the bride shall sit to the left side of the podium and the bridegroom shall sit to her right side facing the sanctum sanctorum and the lord.
- Now both the bride and the bridegroom shall seek the blessings of both the parents.
- This could be followed by offering dakshina to the temple priest. (Use the betel nuts and leaves). Now the temple representative should offer temple gifts to the newlyweds.
- The newlyweds could now offer prayers to the Lord and circumambulate from the outside perimeter of the sanctum sanctorum. This could also be performed by going around the temple building.
- The newlyweds could now pose together for photographs without crossing into the inner parikrama. Photography and Videography of the idols is strictly prohibited and reaffirmed with the photographers.
- The temple representative should check with the temple office if necessary dues have been settled that covers the cost of the ceremony.