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Of all the Malayalee Christian weddings, the catholic ceremony must be the most solemn wedding ceremony; there is no frivolity or excess of music that take away the auspiciousness of the occasion.

The Roman Catholic Church in Kerala was established by the Portuguese Bishop Alexis De Menzes in the latter part of the fifteenth century. The Roman Catholic Church of Kerala was the dominant church from about 1500 AD to around 1650 AD. The Portuguese attempted to bring under the influence of the Roman Catholic church the Syrian church too. This led to the formation of the “Synod of Udaymperur” in 1599. In the political history of India, the Portuguese control and influence in India declined by the 17th century with the arrival of the British in India. As a consequence, the influence of the Roman Catholic Church too diminished in Kerala. Today, the Catholic sect in Kerala accounts for more than 12% of the whole of the population of Kerala.

The wedding customs of Catholics are at the outset, very similar to the practices of other sects, with certain minor differences. The wedding is usually fixed by the elders of the houses. Once a suitable boy has been found for a girl and vice versa, happens the aachaarakalyanam, which is an event in which elders from the girl’s family, usually males go to the groom’s home to fix the date for the wedding. In other Christian sects like Marthomites, the reverse of this custom is followed.

The next big event in the build up for the wedding is the betrothal or manassammatham. The bride and the groom along with their family members assemble at the bride’s church for the same. The priest confirms whether the wedding is acceptable to the concerned parties in the presence of two witnesses. Traditionally, ring exchange was not a part of this ceremony, but gradually, it has become the main event at the betrothal. A feast, almost as grand as the wedding feast follows.

On the wedding day, the bride and groom step out of their homes after two important rituals –a prayer session or sthuthi cholluka and gurudakshina where the bride and groom seek blessings of their elders.

The wedding happens at the parish of the groom. Little flower girls carrying flower baskets walk ahead to the altar followed by the bride, groom and their family members. Different baskets containing fruits, flowers etc are carried into the church. This is a symbol of prosperity and well being.

The bride and groom present themselves before the altar. Their family members stand behind them followed by the rest of the guests. Before the ceremony begins, the bride and groom together light the lamp placed in front of the altar. The priest then reads out verses from the Bible, which are sometimes chosen by the bride and groom beforehand. He also speaks much about the relevance and importance of marriages, their santinty and so on, linking it to many contemporary issues. After this is the minnukettu. The bride kneels down in front of the groom, facing the altar, while the groom helped on by the priest ties the minnu around the bride’s neck. The ring exchange happens after the minnukettu.

Though music is not an indispensible part of the proceedings, a small choir, sometimes just two (a male and female) sing a few songs towards the end of the ceremony. Throughout the ceremony, the entire congregation stands up, and the women folk cover their heads with wither a scarf or the pallu of the saree.

After the minnukettu, the priest hands over to the groom, the manthrakodi which he drapes over the bride’s bowed head. The priest then dips pieces of appam in veenju and gives it to the bride and groom and their family members. The wedding ceremony thus draws to a close and the guests proceed for the splendid lunch that awaits them .