A few hours away from Bangalore, Coorg is a land endowed with lush greenery and a people distinct not only in it's ethnicity but also way of life. Coorgi weddings too similarly bear this mark of distinction. To start with, there is no priest involved. There is a framed photograph of the Cauvery and a brass lamp. One's parents and other elders take on the task of getting the couple married fondly remembering their ancestors.
Decked usually in a brocade saree and a veil generally ancestral in nature a Coorgi bride looks ethereal and distinct in the way the saree is adorned in typical Coorgi fashion. The traditional Coorgi groom looks very much majestic with an ornate robe over a calf-length garment along with a churidaar. The over coat has a silk sash around the waist with a customary dagger tucked on the right. The look is completed by donning a turban on the head.
The first ritual of a Coorg wedding is called Baale Birud. The ceremony involves nine banana stems vertically fixed on to a small wooden stake and the men from the family are supposed to slash them off very skillfully. After praying to the ancestors and village gods, the first member is supposed to slit the first three stems only. This is followed by slashing of the next three stems by the next member and last three stems by the last member.
Post this ceremony, the groom heads to the wedding hall accompanied by his family and best man who holds an umbrella covered with white cloth over the grooms head. The entourage is led by the groom’s sister who carries a pot on her head. The significance of carrying the pot dates back to the ritual followed in olden days where the groom’s family would carry rice, meat, coconuts, bananas and various other raw materials as a gesture of help for the bride’s family and to ease the burden of feast following the wedding. Guests present at the ceremony then blesses the couple by showering rice on them and feeding them milk from a silver pourer.
The next day is a ceremony called Ganga Puja wherein the bride has to balance pots on her head whilst the groom's family would stop her from going ahead with it. This involves a lot of dancing around the bride and lasts up to 5-6 hours. No Coorgi wedding is complete without alcohol flowing and an assortment of meat delicacies from the region. In fact, I have heard from friends that parents start collecting alcohol for their children's wedding ever since their birth. Such is the importance of it at their weddings.