Thursday, August 11, 2011

Two Symbols in the Syro Malabar Marriage - Tali and Manthrakodi


Tali – Minnu
Talikettu or Minnukettu is supposed to be the most important public ritual by the bride and the groom in a marriage ceremony in the Syro Malabar Rite. There is great importance for Kettikkunna Priest. Marriage itself is called Kettukalyanam. Bridegroom is known as Kettiyavan or Tali kettiyavan (one who tied the Tali).
Tali is the foremost symbol of the Covenant of Marriage in India. Bride wears it forever to signify the permanent commitment and loyalty in the marriage. It is removed only just before the burial. After that it is given to the Church.
It is made in the form of a cross with 21 golden beads.  21 = 3 x 7. Cross signifies the Risen Lord. 3 stands for the Trinity and 7 for the sacraments.
Marriage is the union of two bodies and two souls. Trinity is the most important symbol of union.
Matrimony being a Sacrament, remembrance of sacraments gives the couple to remember about the Grace they have received through this sacrament.
It is attached to a cord made of 21 strands drawn from the manthrakodi (wedding cloth (sari)) and entwined in seven sets of three each.  Three again signifies the Trinity and Seven, the Sacraments.
The priest who blesses the marriage (mostly a very close relative of the bride) blesses the Tali. The groom ties the tali around the neck of the bride assisted by the groom's eldest sister. 
The word meaning of Tali is key.  Hence, this is also a symbol of the mutual ownership.. It signifies the authority of one over the other. In biblical terms, husband has the authority on the body of his wife and wife has the authority on the body her husband. (1 Cor 7:4)

Manthrakodi
The priest blesses the manthrakodi. Manthrakodi is imposed on the head of the bride by the groom with the assistance of his eldest sister. This symbolizes the protection and care the bridegroom promises to the bride. The protection and care given by the father of the bride is now taken over by the groom.  
Manthrakodi also symbolizes the new life begins with the marriage. Immediately after the Marriage Rites and the Holy Qurbana, bride wears the manthrakodi and thereafter for all receptions and major functions she wears it. She keeps it for ever.

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Bride's head is being covered with Manthrakodi

Tali and Manthrakodi are typical Indian cultural symbols associated with marriage. In olden days Talikettu or kettukalyanam  and Marriage (Pudamuri Kalyanam) were done separately. Groom ceremoniously ties the Tali. But the real marriage is Pudamuri kalyanam. Here, the groom gives the bride kodi pudava (new cloth). Once she receives it, they start living together.
Nowadays, Talikettu and Pudava giving are done in the same function.
Pudava kodukkal is the Manthrakodi Aniyikkal. By this the groom assures that he is there to provide everything for the bride. Cloth is more important to woman than it is to man.