MANANTHAVADY:The wedding of Minister for Welfare of Scheduled Tribes P K Jayalakshmi, held at her ancestral house at Poroor near here on Sunday, has brought to the fore the vast social changes undergone by the Kurichiya tribe, a community known for adherence to tribal laws and customs.
Kurichiya marriages used to be more or less a family affair with only the close relatives attending the function. However, weddings now are hugely influenced by the Hindu culture. “Exchange of garlands or rings at weddings was something unheard of among Kurichiyas. Also, in the past, the bride and groom had no say in their marriage as all decisions were taken by ‘Karanavars’ (chieftains), says Raman, 76, a distant relative of Jayalakshmi.
According to him, the wedding ceremony used to unite two ‘tharavadus’ in one settlement. The stress was on congruity between two families more than the compatibility between bride and groom.
“Instead of exchanging garlands, the bride and groom used to swap ‘mundus’ (white dhoties). Later, they would seek the blessings of the elders by offering them ‘Dakshina’. The rituals would end with a ‘Thalikettu’, Raman, of Perinchola Tharavadu at Elumandam said. In the past, the wedding ceremonies were attended by members of the 57 Kurichiya Tharavadus. ‘Outsiders’ rarely attended our weddings, said Annan, 68, another community member.
Kurichiyas, are known for their expertise in archery and bushmeat dishes featured prominently in the wedding feast. Now the non-vegetraian feast has been replaced by the traditional vegetarian ‘sadya’, he said. However, the new generation has a different opinion. “It is not easy to strike a balance between old customs with modern-day living. The current generation is trying new trends. I don’t think there is anything wrong in it,” said Soumya, 24, a community member.