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The Malabar Wedding Diaries - Part II: Engagement

6:30:00 pm

And now we start at the beginning – how the prospective bride and groom meet! This meeting, as in most places in India, is arranged by the elders on either side, but it is almost never held at either home. It is usually at a public place or at a common relative’s home. The guy is generally accompanied by his sisters, sisters-in-law or female cousins. Considering all goes well, the guy’s family heads to the girl’s house for the engagement.

We don’t do the ‘exchanging rings’ thing here. The guy’s family goes to her house with a box of chocolates, a dress and jewelry. The girl gets dressed in the new dress and then she is gifted jewelry (mostly gold) by her future mother-in-law. This actually signifies the engagement. Then the box of chocolates is handed over and distributed among her family members. This is, of course, always followed by a feast :-).

For my brother’s engagement, we had a blue theme – Here are a few glimpses (sorry, I don’t have good pictures on hand :-))

I love the dupatta, simple, yet the border added an extra zing to it. This anarkali suit is from Silky, Kozhikode.

We deviated a little from the gold rush, and gave her a diamond set with a necklace and matching earrings in a floral pattern. The set is from Malabar Gold & Diamonds, Kannur.

And of course, the chocolate box – from a store in Focus Mall, Kozhikode.

When I say chocolates, I mean only chocolates, not sweets. You don’t usually find traditional Indian sweets like laddoos, gulab jamuns and the like at our weddings and related functions.

The wedding date is set in a separate function, which consists mainly of the male elders of both families. It’s a small party, with lots of food nevertheless :-). After this, both sides start their wedding prep.

There’s something else I should explain that’s pretty unique to Muslims of this area. We follow a matrilinear system, i.e. a man marries into a woman’s family, not the other way round. The newly wed couple is expected to stay at the bride’s house, where a room, called the ‘maniyara’ or simply ‘ara’ is prepared for them. Also kids take on their mother’s family name and are more in touch with their mother’s side of the family.

Wait a minute. Did I say that the bride’s residence is the man’s new home? I sure did. That’s just the way it is here, a system derived from the Nair community in old times. Obviously, when the couple builds/buys their own home or when they work in a different city or country, they move out of the wife’s parents’ house.

For this very reason, not having a daughter is a matter of concern for most parents, since they ‘lose’ their sons when they get married, where as their daughters would continue to stay on with them. Also, there is no danger of your mother-in-law harassing you for dowry, and widows or women with out-of-town husbands can live on in their homes without suffering any kind of humiliation or abuse at the hands of their in-laws. Still sounds weird? You can read more about it here and here.

Okay, that’s enough for now. I hope these little posts are interesting and informative. More posts are coming up, but do let me know if you’d like to know more about anything specific :-). 

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  1. interesting theme, and loving the shade of blue you used.

    Instagram: beautifyflr

  2. the blue looks beautiful... n yeah, i know kannur n thalassery are known for keeping their women with them... :)

  3. Blue looks very nice. Happy engagement and wedding to your brother.

  4. Im loving the color of the anarkali suit..... one of my childhood friend is a nair married to a punju so i do happen to know about the matriarchal system, its good i tell you, should have been followed all over India :)


  5. You have done any post on the ‘maniyara’ tradition in malabar ?.. with photos of the rooms with all facilities etc ? or do u know any blogs/website about that?. thanks