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The Chettiar Family Celebrations

The extended Chettiar families use to celebrate or commemorate a host of life cycle rituals. These rituals mark every event from birth to death. They use to gather extended family as well as the members of the clan, the Pangali.
Conception of the first child, Marunthu Kundithal, is the ceremony which ensures healthy growth and easy birth; Then the ear boring ceremony, Kaathu Kuththalis, is held in the maternal grand-parent’s house; The offering of a person’s crowning glory, the hair, to the god in the village temple, Mudi Eduththal
Other ceremonies associated with child-bearing are in connection with the Mother-to-be being taken to her maternal home in the 7th and 9th month.
Later at the occasion of the ceremonies of half-wedding, Arai Kalyaman or Thiruvathirai,  the young girl or boy, is dressed like bride and groom by the members of the family according to the lunar calendar during a specific ritual.
Marriage is the grandest celebration in a Chettiar family and most certainly the most important event in the life which requires careful preparation. It was for some of the families the occasion to extend the ancestors home by building new wing in order to house all the invitees. The choice of the bride and groom was of great importance, as they must not belong to the same clan. Once the choice is finalized the ceremonies of engagements, Nichayathartham, start with series of rituals which will ensure the good course of the wedding.
The marriage, Kalyaman, is comprised of a series of rituals such as the thalis, preparation of the symbolic neck-less comprising 34 golden elements, held on the third day before the wedding. The Thalis will be kept by the bride all along her wife’s life. The registration of the marriage takes place one day before at both clan temples where the male become a Pulli and member of the clan as well as his wife.
The day of the marriage the groom attend the village temple in a procession lead by the family members before to reach the bride’s family house who will offer presents such as a ring, a golden neck-less and garlands in order to seal the union with the ceremony of Kaappu Kattutha, tie of red cloth with a silver coin and a piece of turmeric twisted in it.
The Sashtiapthapoorthy, is the celebration of the Chettiar’s 60th year anniversary during which the couple reaffirm the marriage wishes.
The Chettiar 80th year anniversary, the Sathabhishekan, is celebrated after the 1008 lunar cycles comprised of the three steps of a man in his life.
Ancestor remembrance, veneration and worship, Padaipu, is performed in all the Chettiar family every year.
Every celebration is the occasion to gather the extended family as well as the clan members who are feed all along the ritual days with festive meals prepared with a particular attention.
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living heritage
living heritage
living heritage
living heritage
living heritage

Living traditions of South India

The Chettinad is an idyllic place to discover living traditions of South India.

Ayyanar is the Tamil God “of everything ": rain maker, god of children, cattle, villages, earth, nature and villagers. He is present in rural areas.  His abodes are not necessarily temples but outdoor shrines that are filled with terra-cotta offerings. The season of offerings is between April and September and the ritual lasts usually 3 days.

Muthu Mariamman, the Goddess of smallpox, is the deity of life, especially of women and children. She grants children and cures them. Though everyday is dedicated to her, the main festivals take place during the months of March and April.  There is great fervor during these festivities, with thousands of devotees gathering in her honor.

Navaratri: The beginning of spring and the beginning of autumn are two very important periods of climatic and solar influence. These two periods are taken as sacred opportunities for the worship of the Divine Mother. The dates of the festival are determined according to the lunar calendar. Navaratri is the celebration of Goddesses Lakshmi, Saraswati, and Durga, the manifestations of Shakti (Female Energy or Power). Customarily, the Navaratri festival or ‘Nine Nights festival’ is prolonged by one extra day which is the culmination of nine days and nignts of joyful celebrations when the women of a household are particularly celebrated.