Around the globe various communities and cultures follow different customs during marriage ceremonies. In India especially in TamilNadu where majority Tamil people live, the wedding ceremony is elaborate and interesting.
In Tamilnadu itself there are various religious and communal groups that have distinct cultures that reflect in their wedding functions.
Wedding is a month long process in Tamil culture. It begins by giving horoscopes of potential brides/grooms to friends,relatives and marriage brokers.
Horoscope matching is done by both parties (bride and grooms family). There are 10 matches or 'pathu porutham'. When the horoscope matches the inquire about each others background like education, social status, profession wealth etc., This is commonly done by friends/relatives. When both people are satisfied about each other family a meeting is arranged by broker or third party. In this meeting the bride and groom meet for the first time. This is typically done in bride's home or a nearest Temple. They meet and talk. When they give acceptance/approval parents proceed further. If bride/groom doesn't like another for some reason (personality, profession, education) there will be no marriage. Otherwise parents talk further to effect marriage.
The next step would be fixing various dates like 'Kai Nanaithal', purchase of garments, 'Nichayathartham' Or Fixing of marriage, 'Muhurtham' etc.,
The next thing is eating at each other house. Members and realatives of the bride will go to groom's house and will have breakfast/lunch. On the same day Grooms family members will go to brides house and have a meal.
In all the occasions both parties share the cost. For example if bride purchase wedding garments for 30000 and groom for 20000 the share will be 25000. This is what happen in my city, Coimbatore, my community, Gounder. Different community follow different methods.
The next major functions is Nichayathartham or Mangalyam. In this occasion both families exchange salt which confirms marriage between bride and groom. Mangalyam in gold is given to bride by the Groom.
Next will be wedding occasion. Before the day of muhurtham there is pattini virundhu. Then muhurthakal will be arranged. Next morning muhurtham will take place. Both bride and groom will exchange 'Maalai'. Then Groom will tie the yellow thread/thaali. There are so many minor customs like seer, sambandhi virundhu, pongal etc.,
There after mappillai alaipu and pen alaippu will take place. Finally at the end of the day Groom will go to Brides home and stay there for few days.
In brides home the much awaited 'Santhi Muhurtham' will take place at auspicious time given by an astrologer. This is the 'First Night' in which the boy and girl know each other physically, where sexual intercourse will take place.
In TamilNadu dowry is an issue in southern districts. In coimbatore and other areas dowry is not prominent. In chettiar community dowry is prominent and brides family offers various jewels, household items, kitchen utensils in silver etc., In kongu vellalar community dowry is not explicit. But Groom is provided with Gold chain/Ring, New cot and bet, furniture etc.,