Monthly Archives: February 2018

Marriage Customs and Traditions – Reading of Banns – Chiti Vaschyo




The word “Banns” is simply a “proclamation” traditionally announced and published in the home parishes of both the girl and the boy on three Sundays or Holy Days of Obligation before the marriage.  This law was decreed in 1215  and is commonly associated with the Catholic Church and the Church of England. The purpose of announcing the ‘Banns’ was to enable anyone to raise a canonical or civil legal impediment to the marriage so as to prevent invalid marriages.  Impediments vary but would normally include a pre-existing marriage that has been neither dissolved nor annulled, vow of celibacy, lack of consent or the couple being related within the prohibition degree of kinship. This act was meant to prohibit clandestine marriages and elopements by the underage. Reading of marriage banns was an important rite without which a marriage was considered null and void, unless a marriage licence was obtained instead.

marriage-licenseMarriage Licences began to be issued by a Church or a State Authority in the 14th century, to permit a marriage which would otherwise be illegal. There were always people who were in a hurry to marry for various reasons and didn’t wish to wait for the usual period for the three banns to be read; in such cases and with special approval and payment of a higher fee a marriage licence was issued giving the couple the necessary permission to be married.

In early days most of the people shared personal bonds with their neighbours, their communities and members of their parish and knew anyone and everyone in their neighbourhood but in later years with people becoming increasingly mobile, changing their domicile and emigrating to newer lands for jobs or other purposes, it became increasingly difficult to “know” all the people living around you or to be acquainted with all the people belonging to the same parish. Therefore, in 1983 the requirement of reading the banns was abolished by the Church as it’s usefulness in determining whether there were impediments to a marriage became limited for reasons stated. But many parishes still continue to publish marriage banns and it is still one of the requirements for marriage.


Before the Mudi  both parents of the bridegroom and bride would have approached the priest and informed him of their mutual intention to marry and would then fix the marriage date with the priest who records the names and details of the bride and groom and instructs the young couple in the duties of married life and tests their knowledge of the Christian faith and the prayers. The fee given to the priest was a banana bunch, a cock and some money.  Reading of the banns is an important rite following the engagement. The banns are read on three consecutive Sundays before the wedding date and the two persons concerned are present when the banns are read out. It is a matter of pride for the couple and their families.  If the wedding is to take place in an emergency an exception was made and the banns were read on one Sunday only.  Of course this required special permission from the priest or bishop and also higher fees!!

The formula for reading the banns :-

Devache Kurpen kazar zata puth avnkar Gregory, Balthuzar Saldanhanaso and dhu Juliana, Juze Almeida d’ Sachi Hi zavnasa (poli, dusri, thisri) chit. Konichi adkol asa pirge-jecha vodilank tilsunk.


By the grace of God, the bachelor son, Gregory, of Mr. Balthuzar Saldanha, is going to marry the daughter, Juliana, of Mr. Joseph Almeida. This is the (first, second, third) reading of the banns. In case anyone has any objection to this marriage he had the obligation of informing the ecclesiastical authorities.



Once the couple informs the priest of their mutual INTENT to marry, they must register and attend the marriage preparation course and prepare the required documents which are sent to the respective parishes.  Gone are the days when a church wedding could be performed within a week of the girl and boy meeting and accepting each other. These quick weddings used to be quite common prior to the 80’s and mostly between a foreign returned boy and local girl in India.

Curch notice board bannsBanns now are read/published on one Sunday only.  In Kuwait the banns are just put up on the church notice board for a week or two without any formal announcement during mass.


Today, the procedure from registering of INTENT to marry until the marriage dossier is complete, is a protracted and lengthy one between both the parishes of the couple. If the marriage is to take place in a church other than the parish then that Church too is to be involved in the required procedures. A minimum of three months to a maximum of one year is required depending on the rules of the respective Churches  involved, to complete all formalities and necessary paperwork like Registration, NOC, Marriage preparation course certificate, Proclamation of banns certificate, etc.

07-3004banns-6Once the banns are published and the results of the banns obtained, the Banns Certificate is issued to proceed.



In that it is worthwhile accessing the respective church website and checking out the marriage FAQs and procedures before approaching the church. The basic documents required to register are:-

  1. Baptism certificate (not older than six months)
  2. Your Passport copy or photo ID
  3. 2 Witnesses
  4. Boy must be not less than 21 years and girl not less than 18 years of age.

It is interesting to note how the wording on the Banns have evolved over time:

  1. 16th & 17th Century, only the names of the couple and the parish were mentioned.

2. 18th Century, fathers names were included (but not the mother as all women were considered fathers’ property even if they were married).

Example of the wording was as follows:-

  • By the grace of God, the bachelor son, Gregory, of Mr. Balthuzar Saldanha, is going to marry the daughter, Juliana, of Mr. Joseph Almeida. This is the (first, second, third) reading of the banns. In case anyone has any objection to this marriage he had the obligation of informing the ecclesiastical authorities.

3. In today’s time, names of both parents are stated.

Banns RaoulCharm







Reading of Banns is therefore an important rite and does not apply to mangalorean catholics alone but to all communities that follow the catholic or christian faith.

Previous Post : Engagement Mudi                      Next Post: Bachelor/Bachelorette Party


References: Severine Silva and Stephen Fuchs & Victor D’sa, S.V.D.: The Marriage Customs of the Christians in South Canara, India. Introduction source, Wikipedia.



Mangalorean Marriage Customs and Traditions – Engagement Mudi


Engagement Mudi

While, “finalising of the “Sairik” is the formal acceptance of the promise made by the bride’s father to the groom’s father that he will give his daughter in marriage; the Engagement or the Ring ceremony i.e. “Mudi” is a mutual promise of later marriage and is a solemn and religious ritual. The Engagment may take place months, weeks or days ahead of the marriage. In some cases the engagement period may also last for a year or more.


Engagement “Mudi”


The bridegroom would go to the girl’s house with his parents and close relatives on the engagement day. The priest would bless the engagement ring in the church or in the bride’s house and the bridegroom would put the ring “mudi” on the bride’s left ring finger symbolizing his claim on her.

He then presents some gifts like rosary, handkerchiefs, prayer book, perfume, cosmetics, etc. to the bride.

The bride then shows the gifts to all the guests. After the engagement the groom takes the bride to his house to acquaint her with his relatives and to show her his property. When such an engagement breaks, the mudi has to be returned to the bridegroom but the presents are not returned.


Engagements are optional but more formal if it must take place. Invitations are sent mostly through social media. The ceremony takes place either at the house of the bride or at a party venue officiated by a priest who blesses the mudi (rings) followed by cake cutting, raising of the toast.


Gifts given to the bride are jewellery and saree which the bride changes into during the function and sometimes the boy also changes his attire.  March-past, dancing, dinner, etc. in short a mini-wedding! Guests would be only close family and friends and all expenses are borne by the brides’ family.

My son Raoul’s engagement was at a hotel venue hosted by my daughter-in-law Charmaine’s parents and officiated by Rev. Fr. Jerome Pinto, Charmaine’s maternal grandfather’s brother.



The gorgeous engagement cake was made by my sister Zenia “”.

Nowadays engagement function is optional and replaced with a formal “proposal” especially in love-marriages where the boy throws a surprise for the girl (with just the two of them) and “proposes” with a ring (usually diamond!) at an exotic location, etc.

My son Rohan opted for the western style of proposing and took my daughter-in-law Valencia to Dubai to the Burj Al Arab’s “Atmosphere” restaurant on the 123rd floor to pop the question!



CIVIL Marriage or registered marriage is now compulsory effective 12 April 2012. This registered marriage is an important proof of marriage and also gives it a legal status. Civil marriage can be registered at a Marriage Court any time before or after the formal wedding.

Previous post: Finalising the Sairik                                 Next post: Reading of Banns

References: Severine Silva and Stephen Fuchs & Victor D’sa, S.V.D.: The Marriage Customs of the Christians in South Canara, India




Mangalorean Marriage Customs and Traditions – Finalising the Alliance Sairik



After the match was agreed, photos exchanged and approved, a day was fixed to visit the girls house to see the girl. The father, the boy, a maternal uncle and one or two close friends or relatives and the malo or gurkar*1 proceeded to the girl’s house to see the girl.

Pan podWhen they arrived they were welcomed with Pan-pod (betel leaf, betel/areca nut arranged on a plate) and udak (water).  This custom of offering pan-pod’ and udak is still symbolically practiced for all important ceremonies by many and is considered a mark of respect to the visitors and guests to whom it is offered.  This is clearly a survival of the Hindu wedding-ceremonies adapted by the Christians.** 2.

The girl was then called under some pretext.  She was asked to fetch water from the well or to place some object in the courtyard or to serve coffee to the guests.  The bridegroom and his father thus had an opportunity to observe her. The girl of course knew the reason she was called and would feel very shy.

If the grooms’ party approved of the girl the amount of dowry (dot), property and position and the family background was discussed in the girls house.  Amount of dowry differed according to the status of the family and it was considered a status symbol to pay an enormous amount of dowry.  Dowry was given by the bride’s father around two weeks before the wedding with great solemnity in the presence of many witnesses in the house of the bridegroom. To celebrate this occasion pan-pod was distributed i.e. a plate with pan-pod was passed from the bridegroom’s side to the bride’s party and vice-versa. This exchange was called badalchen (changing hands). A packet of pan-pod was also sent to the Parish Priest and to the other relatives as a seal to the final sairik.  With the dot, the bridegroom bought the jewellery especially the mangalsutra which was called ‘moni’ (silver beads in those days), gifts and clothes especially the “sado” red wedding saree for the bride.  When fixing the wedding date, certain days of the week and leap year were considered inauspicious.



Gifts of sweets

Fruit baskets

Gifts of fruit

In modern times an alliance became an even more intricate matter. Enquiries were made on sickness, physical and mental defects, etc. in the family and even remote relationships were minutely discussed.  These enquires were often so detailed that it gave rise to the proverb “Bara kathi jartalyo”  (to fix an alliance the soles of the feet are worn off twelve times).

In arranged marriages, it is appropriate to finalise the alliance. A day is fixed for the parents and few elders of the grooms family to go to the bride’s house to formally accept the bride into their family and to finalise the alliance “sairik’.

My elder son had an arranged marriage and the groom, the eldest aunts and uncles of the groom (from both sides of our family i.e my side and my husband”s side), me and my husband (eight of us) went to the bride’s house. It is customary to take some gifts of sweets, fruit and flowers to the girl’s house.  Additional gifts are given by the boy and his parents as a formal welcome to the girl, could be a watch, jewellery, saree, etc. These gifts depend on personal choice.

Mogra flower stringsIMG_4211IMG_4220

Flowers are put in the girl’s hair by the boy’s family once everything is finalized and sweets (instead of pan-pod) are distributed to seal the proposal.

In modern times dowry has lost it’s former importance, though it is still demanded in villages. However, the boys father or an elder relative would usually specify that they don’t want any dowry but that anything the girl’s parents wish to gift their daughter would be welcome and this is called denem (instead of dot). In this case, the girl and her family would buy her jewellery and sarees and the boy pays for the mangalsutra  (moni) and the sado and is also free to give more sarees or jewellery if he so wishes. This denem is then to be delivered to the groom’s house prior to the wedding day. (More on that will be covered later in the section “Wedding garments and Jewellery”). Other wedding plans are discussed and more often the wedding expenses are shared by the boy and the girl and their families. A wedding date would also be discussed, etc. and in todays time, any day of the week or even leap year is not considered inauspicious.

This custom of finalizing the sairik is for those who wish to follow some traditions otherwise like in love-marriages mutual consent becomes more important rather than parents decisions and the parents are just kept informed of the preparations and would generally just go along with the arrangements.  Yet, it would certainly be a beautiful gesture for the boy to seek the blessings of the girls parents.  His family may also formally ask for the girls hand in marriage.





My second son had a love-marriage and we did go to the gir’s house to finalise the alliance as stated above as we felt it is important to give the bride and her parents due respect and importance.






*1.Gurkar system: As only a few priests had accompaned the Christian emigrants to Canara, it was impossible for these priests to look after them properly and they therefore made use of the gurkar system and appointed men of good moral character as headmen in the Christian settlements.  The gurkars also known as Social leaders was appointed for each village and in the Christian villages they had also to replace the absent priest and therefore acquired more influence and importance.

** 2.Hindu wedding ceremonies adapted by the Christians : Christianity was established in Canara in the 16th Century when the Portuguese made themselves masters of Mangalore and other coastal ports when Canara was placed under the ecclesiastic jurisdiction of the bishop of Goa in 1534. Immigration of newly converted Christians from Goa also started on a vast scale and coincided with the introduction of the Inquisition in Goa in 1560. The rules of the Inquisition forbade the observance of any traditional Hindu customs after conversion and those who refused to comply were forced to leave Goa and settle outside the Portuguese dominion.  Some went to the Deccan, others to Canara.  The second emigration from Goa was in 1683 when Goa was invaded by Mahratta chief Sambhaji and many Brahmins fled from the Bardes District in Goa and settled in Canara. These Chistians who fled continued to practise their christian faith after they left Goa which proves that they only wanted to observe their ancient social customs which had nothing to do with religion.

Previous Post:  Match making – Sairik                               Next Post: Engagement – “Mudi”

References: Severine Silva and Stephen Fuchs & Victor D’sa, S.V.D.: The Marriage Customs of the Christians in South Canara, India




Mangalorean Marriage Customs and Traditions – Match making


Image result for cupid free picture



Marriages were predominantly arranged by the parents with the assistance of a match-maker (sairikecho malo) man or (sairikechi mali) woman, who were the important link between the parents and the prospective bride and groom and these match-makers were also considered professional and very influential persons. Once the marriage was finalized the match-maker was handsomely rewarded with money, sarees and expensive gifts.


Although arranged marriages are still prevalent, parents and potential brides and grooms resort to advertisements, marriage bureaus, matrimonial websites, if they have not already found a match for themselves as in “love-marriage” where mutual consent is of primary importance and parent’s consent becomes secondary. I personally know of many a successful marriage through websites like Several matrimonial websites exist like etc. For a more focused search on Mangalorean partners, offers paid advertisements. You can also advertise on Catholics in general can also place advertisements at a nominal cost of Rs.100/- in the print edition of the ‘Examiner’ (a catholic newsweekly) by the Archdiocese of Mumbai.

Parents also discuss their aspirations with close relatives and friends to find suitable match for their children. Even in today’s fast-paced lifestyle where young boys and girls have far more opportunities to socialize, yet it does become a challenge to find the right match when marriage is being considered and although many would shun arranged marriages they do exist in modern society. Today’s match-maker can even be from one’s own peer group and not necessarily an elderly professional match-maker. Match-makers are rewarded even today but more often a saree would suffice. For those using matrimonial websites, would be worthwhile considering a premium subscription which would give better results in finding suitable matches.

Restrictions in Match-Making


Age of the girl had to be between 15-18 and the boy some years older. Boy had to be taller than the girl. Inter-caste marriages were not allowed and generally the marriage partners had no say in the matter. When I say Inter-caste here I am not referring to  Christians and non-christians but between the caste “Kuli” system retained by the Christians at the time which was the same as they had in Goa prior to their migration to Mangalore (Canara). The four castes were, in order of hierarchy – Brahmins (Bamons), Charodis, Shudras and Gaudis. So a Bamon boy was obliged to marry a Bamon girl and a Charodi boy had to marry a Charodi girl and so on.  However, later on it was acceptable for a boy of a higher caste marrying a lower caste girl but a lower caste boy was not accepted by a higher caste girl. Marriage between cousins was prohibited and so was marriage between members of the same parish which implies that marriage between members of the same village was also not allowed as these members who were attached to one parish felt like close relatives. Also a boy could not marry before his sisters and a younger sibling could not marry before the elder.

Several proverbs illustrate facts on choosing the bride and groom:

  1. Chedun adijai pioshilem, Ani jot adijai lagshilem

Meaning …

“A girl should be brought from a distant place; But a pair of bullocks should be bought in

the neighbourhood”.

  1. Avoik polovn dhuvek vhor, Dud polovn moshik vhor


“Take the girl after looking at her mother; And take the she-buffalo after looking at the milk”

  1. Dubleanchem chedum adizai, Grestak chedum dizai


A girl should be chosen from a poor family and should marry into a rich family


In the literal sense these proverbs would be outdated but figuratively do seem true even today. Most of the above arranged marriage practices have now been given up. Girls and Boys now choose to marry in their late 20’s and early 30’s. Education, professional career development and compatibility of the partners is given more importance and parents generally are more liberal today allowing children the freedom to decide their personal choices. ‘Live-in’ partnerships before stepping into a more permanent relationship of marriage are gradually growing and being accepted by society, the reasoning being that the couple should “KNOW” each other before marriage.

Personally, though I wouldn’t grudge a live-in relationship, I do not agree to the reasoning, as no amount of “knowing” your partner would guarantee a successful marriage. Each marriage or partnership requires a tremendous amount of effort, compromise, adjustment, understanding, commitment, acceptance, faith, trust and respect from both partners. Even if you have known your partner for a day, a year or ten years, eventually compatibility issues would creep in and the bottom line would be how much one is willing to compromise and sacrifice in the interest of their family. In today’s day we feel sorry to see so many marriages breaking-down over trivial issues which can easily be resolved with a little bit of patience and understanding. From my experience I have seen that eventually the difficult phase is overcome, patience and humility being the key.

Previous Post  : Marriage customs and traditions

Next Post: Finalising the Alliance

References: Severine Silva and Stephen Fuchs & Victor D’sa, S.V.D.: The Marriage Customs of the Christians in South Canara, India


Mangalorean Marriage Customs and Traditions

Image result for mangalorean catholic wedding
Traditional Wedding
Modern Wedding

My interest in Mangalorean customs and traditions now takes me to “Marriage” customs and traditions and although not an expert in this genre, I have always aspired to know and learn more. Having done some research on this subject coupled with some of my life experiences, I have chosen to write on the “Mangalorean marriage customs and traditions” for the benefit of those who have limited knowledge and are seeking some guidance on this issue.

Marriage is a sacred institution, a blessing from God and this is a universal truth. Marriage customs and traditions however, differ from country to country, community to community and in India from culture to culture.

Indian weddings are extravagant and full of grandeur. The rituals in the olden days were far more elaborate than today where most of the customs are ignored or overlooked and weddings are shortened from the customary ten days to maybe two or three days maximum. The contemporary wedding receptions on the other hand are held on such a grand scale which more than makes up for the entire ten day celebrations of yester year.

Many today aspire to follow the traditional customs even with limited resources and in limited circumstances if only to define the rich mangalorean culture that we should all be proud of. Many of the customs are also similar to Goan marriage customs due in fact to our ancestral links.

In an effort to remind us of the old customs and to apprise of the modern day customs, I will briefly describe the Mangalorean marriage customs and traditions “Then” and “Now” and in the sequence they were performed.

1.Match-Making “Sairik”

2.Finalising the Alliance “Sairik

3.Engagement “Mudi”

4.Reading Of Banns “Chiti Vaschyo”

5.Bachelor/Bachelorette Party

6.Wedding Garments/Jewellery “Sado” ETC.

7.Wedding Invitation “Voulik”

8.Wedding Pandal/Gifts of Food Etc. ” Kazara Matov”

9. “Vojem” etc.

10.Dot and Denem

11.Roce Ceremony

Laudate Psalm


Wedding Songs

12.Nuptial Blessing “Resper”

13.Wedding Reception “Kazara Jevon”

14. Mother-In-Law’s Gift of Ring to Son-In-Law “Maain Mudi Shivnchem”

15. Solemn transferment of Bride to Bridegrooms’s family “Opsun Divnchem”

16. Return Dinner “Porthapon”

17. Conclusion & Post wedding ceremonies

N.B.: I am open to accepting research projects on Culture and Traditions. Please email me with your requests at

Thank you.


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Continued………………. 1. Match-Making “Sairik”

References: Severine Silva and Stephen Fuchs & Victor D’sa, S.V.D.: The Marriage Customs of the Christians in South Canara, India

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