Significance of a Betel leaf in Indian weddings
From time immemorial, Hindus have worshipped trees and have considered all flora and fauna as sacred. Trees, plants, leaves, flowers and fruit have an esteemed position in the religion and culture of India. So much so that no religious function especially Indian matrimonial is considered complete without the presence of at least one of the above. Leaves like the betel, banana, mango, Neem, tulsi, durva are intrinsically woven into the tapestry of Indian weddings.
The betel leaf enjoys the pride of place among all the accessories of a Hindu wedding. The betel leaf denotes freshness and prosperity. Betel leaves or the tambool, which comprises betel leaf, areca nut and lime, marks the beginnings of all auspicious events. In Indian matrimonial, alliances are sealed by exchanging the tambool. Invitations for an Indian marriage are distributed with tambool forming an important part of the invite. The betel is associated with the Trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Brahma: arecanut, Vishnu: betel leaf, and Shiva: lime.
The grooms' party is welcomed with betel leaves and every event in the wedding is solemnized with betel leaves. The tambool is the minimum and essential part of hospitality in every Indian wedding.
In some weddings, a betel leaf is tucked into the headgear of the bride and groom.
In certain regions the groom's mother or sister gives a ceremonial welcome to the bride. Seven cups are placed on a platter along with fruits, betel leaves, rice, sacred ash, turmeric, salt, tamarind and cotton. A measuring cup is filled with paddy and a betel leaf is placed on it. This is called the 'nirai nazhi'. Water is placed in a vessel and the bride stands facing the east. The person performing the ceremony touches the seven cups three times and puts sacred ash on herself and on the bride. After this is done twenty one times, the bride is given a betel leaf and water is poured on it. The person conducting the ceremony touches the leaf to her forehead giving her a ceremonial welcome.
In yet another ritual comprising the betel, the girl's brother gives the ceremonial first betel to the couple to chew . This ritual is the thaamboola charvanam.
Betel leaves along with coconut or fruit are given as a token of thanks to every guest attending the wedding.
About the Author: Anish Sapra is a relationship expert specializing in Marriage, Family and Relationships.He has written authoritative articles on relationships and marriage and is currently assisting Shaadi.com and Shaaditimes.com as a Family and Relationship specialist.