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.



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