Monthly Archives: September 2018

Mangalorean marriage customs and traditions – Conclusion

Marriage traditions – Conclusion


Mangalorean bride and groom

Marriage preparation from match-making to Porthapon consists of sixteen steps.  From finalizing the alliance/proposal to the marriage itself would require a minimum of six months for all church formalities, etc to be completed.  Even a civil marriage would require a minimum of one month from registration.

After the Porthapon etc. have taken place, personal invitations for lunch/dinner by close family and friends follow so that the bride can visit the home of the grooms family and friends and vice versa.  Thus the marriage celebrations are enjoyed for several days.  However, these personal invitations are now few and far between and gradually diminishing due to the fast paced lives that all lead.  In villages however, these customs would still be followed.

To state some of the rituals followed in earlier days, it is important to remember that (according to old records) most of the Mangalorean Catholic immigrants in 1683, were from the Bardes district of Goa.  The Konkani speaking Christians used the word kazar for marriage which is a portuguese word.  In South Canara (Mangalore) the Konkani Hindus as well as the Christians use the word vordik, which is probably derived from the sanskrit vri which means ‘to select’ and from the root vri are derived several words connected with marriage; bridegroom voreth, bride vokol, wedding invitation voulik, wedding party voran, female wedding guest vouli, male wedding guest voulo, wedding song vovi (plural: voviyo) and wedding procession is called vor.

The terms from the root vri were most likely imported by the Shenvi Brahmins of Bardes District in Goa who after their conversion were forced to emigrate into South Canara. Thus the marriage rites have many similarities with the marriage rites of the Shenvi Brahmins in Goa.

The ancient Shenvi marriages lasted nine days.  First day – Simant puja, worship at the boundary of village to drive away evil spirits.  Second day – The essential hindu rite of taking seven steps around the sacred fire. The Dravidian rite consisted in pouring water on the joined hands.  Third day – The bridal couple stayed at the bride’s house being feasted.  Fourth dayChouthandan, at night the bride was given to the bridegroom and they left for the bridegroom’s house.  Fifth day – At noon the bridal couple returns to the bride’s house. This was called panch parthana and the bridal couple stayed at the bride’s house.  Sixth day – The couple remained at the bride’s house.  Seventh day – Dinner (gaun jevan) was given at bride’s house.  Eigth day – At noon the couple returned to bridegroom’s house and a big dinner (gaun jevan) is held at bridegroom’s house.  Ninth day – The couple remained at bridegroom’s house.  Tenth day – The wedding ceremonies come to an end and the leave-taking (vasana) ceremony took place.

The Christians, after conversion, continued many of the ancient Hindu customs with some modifications like instead of a Brahmin priest blessing and sacrifices to various Gods, the blessing of the nuptials were performed in the church.  For the Porthapon and after a day’s stay at the bride’s house, the couple visit the bride’s house again a week later and again on the 30th day.  Also the newly wedded are invited by the bride’s family for all feast-days for a period of one year, the chief feasts being the parish feast, feast of St.John the Baptist, Infant Jesus (Minin Jesus) feast and Nativity of our Lady (Monthi Fest).  Apart from the official invitations, the bridegroom was as a rule not expected to visit his in-laws uninvited and if he visits in case of necessity he had to be accompanied by his father or another male relative and his mother does not accompany him, but a year after the wedding the bridegrooms’ mother is formally invited for dinner.  Similarly, the bride’s mother is also invited by the bridegroom’s mother and this dinner is called Yenicho samman’.

However as recent as 50 to 60 years ago, my Uncle Mark Oliveira (whose advice we invariably take for any marriage function) confirms that according to mangalorean customs and traditions wedding celebrations lasted 8 days and started one or two days before roce ceremony when all the required things (vojem) were brought by daijis (Uncle and Aunts, etc.) and cooked by wadegar (sector incharge) and their troop. Lawad (gurkar) will be the head of all the functions. Every function would take place in the afternoon due to transport problem and people had to walk for 10-12 miles to reach bride/grooms house.


  1. First Day – A day or two before the wedding the vojem ceremonies
  2. Second dayRoce ceremony
  3. Third dayNuptials/Church ceremony followed by  wedding reception (Lunch) at brides house.
  4. Fourth dayPorthapon Bride’s house
  5. Fifth day – Lunch at grooms house
  6. Sixth day – Lunch (Samman Jevan) at bride’s house
  7. Seventh day – Yeni samman for bride’s mother at groom’s house.
  8. Eighth day – Yeni samman for groom’s mother at bride’s house

Thus the community was used to elaborate marriage festivities especially in the rural areas and towns.

However, towards the close of the 19th century (as stated in the book “Catholics in the 19th Century”) efforts were made to trim down the festivities and bring reforms according to changing times as education was spreading.  The elaborate festivities were considered to be one of the reasons for poverty among the lower sections and one of the speakers in the Eucharistic Congress held in 1938 in Mangalore, gave a call to end ostentation in catholic weddings and festivities.

Present day wedding festivities go on for three or maximum four days.  Nonetheless, celebrations are still very elaborate and thoroughly enjoyable and full of emotions and sentiments if performed in the traditional manner in keeping with the culture and customs of the Mangalorean catholic community.  These marriage customs clearly manifest a mixture of the rich and impressive original rituals of our Hindu forefathers with the new Christian concepts expressed in a modern and Western style.

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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. Catholics in the 19th Century.



Mangalorean Marriage Customs and Traditions – Porthapon


Porthapon – Return Dinner




The following day of the wedding the newly wedded couple return in the afternoon to the bride’s house which is called porthapon, from porthen apone, “calling again”.  The bridegroom is accompanied by twelve of his friends and the father by four close relatives.  A grand dinner is served at the bride’s house with great entertainment by singing and playing music with the ghumat**. The bridal pair is served heaps of food which they would never be able to eat but they have to put morsels of food into each other’s mouth.  When everyone has finished their meal the guests sitting last for the meal sing the laudate at the end of the meal.

The next day the bridal couple returns to the bridegrooms house for a dinner for the bride’s family and this way there is continuous visiting and re-visiting between the two homes. The following day the two again proceed to the bride’s house  and this time stay for four days which gave rise to the term choundisacho novro the ‘four-day bridegroom’. During these four days the couple is feasted by relatives and the bridegroom is given oil bath daily assisted by his own companions and the bride’s sisters.  Extra special care is taken to ensure the bridegroom does not leave before the end of the four days.


Today since the wedding functions are curtailed due to time constraints, only the next day dinner is celebrated amongst close relatives and friends of the bridal party.  The bride’s parents would enquire from the groom’s parents the number of guests who would attend or specify the number of guests they can bring. The grooms family may or may not have the return dinner, but nowadays it is common for the Porthapon to be held jointly by both families and the function is held at a party hall.  On my wedding the porthapon was at my parents’ house.

As tradition dictates two male relatives (like brides brother and an uncle) would go to the bridegrooms’ house to personally bring the bridal couple for the dinner. In the past the bridesmaids would accompany the bride to the bridegrooms house after the reception and stay there and then come along with them to the porthapon.

porthapon Fancy costume

Fancy dress costumes – Indicative


They would all then proceed in procession and the brides relatives would come forward at a convenient location to meet the party and welcome them in song and dance to the playing of the Ghumat.  The brides’ guests would dress in fancy costumes to add to the fun and entertainment quotient of the function and the men would usually dress as women.

The bride wears her Dharma Sado, saree given by her parents.   At her mother’s house she changes into the Maipano, saree gifted by her mother and flowers are put in hair.

The grooms mother would take along some gifts of fruit and/or sweets which she gifts to the mother of the bride/Yejman. The brides mother in turn would do the same.

Raoul charm porthapon


My younger son got married in Goa and so we did not have the sado ceremony at the reception.  Instead my daughter-in-law wore the sado for the porthapon which was at her parents house.  Upon reaching there she changed into the red dress (Goan sado) give by her mother.

Rohan Wedd portapon

Dancing and singing to DJ music and Ghumat continue through the night.  At the Porthapon it is customary for the senior members and close members of both families to be introduced to each other and the occasion enables the two new families to get acquainted with each other.


Formal functions may be conduted by a professional MC and DJ. After prayers when dinner is announced, the bridal couple is served first and their plates are piled with food, although they are not expected to finish it, but are expected to put a morsel of food in each others mouth.

The bride and groom usually stay at  bride’s house for the night, but this custom may or may not be followed nowadays. At the end of the function,  the bride’s suitcase with her personal belongings is carried to her new home by the Mal Dhedo.


** A brief of the Instrument Ghumat:
The ghumat is a membranophone percussion instrument from Goa and Karnataka. It is an earthen vessel, in the shape of a pot, having both sides open. On the bigger opening a drum membrane is tied taut around it. In the old days, it was mounted by a membrane made of the skin of the monitor lizard. Now, with the banning of the use of the skin of the lizard, more innovative methods are used. One of the membranes now used are synthetic membranes made from artificial materials. The sounds of the ghumat are manipulated by the opening and closing of the smaller hole with the palm of the one hand while the membrane around the larger opening is delicately struck with the other hand to produce the sound. (Ref: The live music project)

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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

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