Mangalorean marriage customs and traditions – Dot and Denem




gold varaha
Gold Varahas South India – Indicative

Once the girl and boy have approved of each other at the sairik bethrothal, the dowry (dot), etc. was discussed. 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 the 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, which was to be given atleast two weeks before the wedding, 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.

In olden times the dowry amounted to between two and four varahas (gold coin of the bednore kingdom) and each varaha was equivalent to Rs.4.00.  The largest amount ever demanded in early times was twelve and a half varahas. In later years and with the gradual increase in wealth of the konkani catholics and higher price of gold the dowry was increased to a thousand rupees and wealthy people even paid upto twenty thousand rupees.

Dowry became a necessary element and was demanded as a right and even had a mention on the formal engagement contract.  In addition to money, the items usually given were useful items like gold, vehicles, marriage expenditure, etc. However, dowry laws forbid open demands being made but is nevertheless expected by the boy’s family and offered by the girl’s family.




The term ‘dot’ is now replaced by dan‘.  Athough both mean ‘gift’  the tendency now is for the boy’s family instead of asking how much cash would be given as dot they ask how much gold will be given as dan. When a girl is educated and employed the amount of dan expected would be less as employment translates to wealth. In some cases the boy’s family may not request for dan at all but the girl’s family will nonetheless give her gifts in gold, etc. as no family would like to send their girl empty-handed so to say lest she face any form of ridicule for want of ‘dan‘. Families gift articles as per their choice and financial status, there is no fixed rule per se.

The dan so gifted becomes the “denem” and these items are then to be delivered to the grooms house and this is usually done a day or two before the wedding and ideally on the morning of the roce day.  A few elders (women) of the brides close family maushis, elder sister, sister-in-law, go to the groom’s house to handover the denem.  The brides family on reaching the grooms house are duly welcomed and the denem accepted by the yejman (groom’s mother or the female family member who is the yejman for the wedding) in the presence of the elder women of the grooms close family.  The denem is then displayed to the family and close neighbours are also invited.

Denem articles given as per financial status


Denem specimen I

Denem 1

Dene specimen II



red bangles lastbustovasco

In earlier references, the bangle ceremony is mentioned where on the eve of the wedding day the bangle seller is invited to the house and the bride is first presented with red bangles. She was made to sit in the front of the matov dressed nicely with red flowers in her hair alongwith her bridesmaids dhedio.  Generally the younger sister of the bride act as bridesmaids. The elder female relatives whose husbands are still alive also receive a pair of bangles.

The Goan community follows this custom even today, which is called Chuddo  

Goan chuddo

which is an important ceremony performed by and at the home of the Uncle of the bride.  The manglorean catholics may have carried over this custom when they located to Dakshina Kannada in their early period of settlement.


I am not aware of any such bangle ceremony being performed in the Mangalorean community.  But, red bangles are put on the hands of the bride during the sado ceremony at the reception.  A set of 4 to 6 red bangles are put by the brides mother-in-law during the dressing of the sado.

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



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