A Kerala Syrian Christian wedding

Kerala, God’s own country, is a favorite destination for a beach wedding, but a traditional Kerala wedding of the Syrian Christian church is something very different than what most people that come to Kerala had ever seen.

Varshini and Alex, or as everyone calls him; Mithun, had a Syrian Christian wedding in Coimbatore, not far from the Kerala border with Tamil Nadu, in south India. Varshini actually comes from a traditional Tamil Hindu family, while Alex is from a Syrian Christian family originally form Kerala. I was in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, to photograph the Hindu ceremonies form the bride’s family side and was going to come back to Delhi right after without shooting the Christian wedding, but then I had a talk with Mithun’s father. He had argued that since I am doing a book on Indian weddings I must come to Coimbatore for the Christian ceremony. A book on Indian weddings would not be complete without a Syrian Christian wedding, he said,  and so I accompanied the family to Coimbatore after the Hindu ceremonies in Madurai were over.

Who are the Syrian Christian people?

The Syrian Malabar Nasrani people, also known as Saint Thomas Christians are an ethno-religious group from Kerala, India, adhering to the various churches of the Saint Thomas Christian tradition. They are also known as Syrian-Malabar Christians, Mar Thoma Nasrani, or more popularly as Syrian Christians in view of the Syriac (classical form of Aramaic) liturgy used in church services since the early days of Christianity in India.

The Syrian Malabar Nasranis are the descendants of the natives and those of the Jewish diaspora in Kerala who became Christians in the Malabar coast in the earliest days of Christianity. They follow a unique Hebrew-Syriac Christian tradition which includes several Jewish elements although they have absorbed some Hindu customs. Their heritage is Syriac-Keralite and their language Malyalam. Much of their Jewish tradition has been forgotten, especially after the Portuguese invasion of Kerala in the early 1500s.

 

Kerala Syrian Christian weddingKerala Syrian Christian weddingKerala Syrian Christian wedding

For the wedding ceremony, the bride wears an off-white silk sari with a wide border. Her sari ‘pallu’ acts as a veil or she wears a separate veil over her head. She has only very little jewelry on her body. The groom’s outfit would traditionally consist of a white dhoti and a white shirt, but in these modern times not all the traditions are kept.

Kerala Syrian Christian wedding

The sari which the groom presents to his bride in church is called the ‘mantra kodi’. The night before the church ceremony, strands of thread are drawn from this sari by the groom’s sister and twisted to form a cord. On this cord, is tied the ‘taali’, a leaf shaped gold pendant with a cross, inscribed on it. The ‘mantra kodi’ is placed on the bride’s head by the priest and blessed.

Kerala Syrian Christian wedding

In a Syrian Christian wedding it is the priest who puts the rings on the bride and groom’s hands to symbolize the bond made before God, a bond that will not be broken.

Kerala Syrian Christian weddingKerala Syrian Christian weddingKerala Syrian Christian wedding

Behind The Indian Veil: A Journey Through Weddings in India

Behind-The-Indian-Veil-book_02
Behind The Indian Veil is the result of Sephi Bergerson’s seven year photographic journey through wedding in India. This lavishly produced hard-cover coffee table book brings the beauty of India’s wedding traditions, its people and its amazing stories into stunning focus.

Sephi Bergerson is an international destination wedding photographer represented worldwide by SILK PHOTOS. He is based in India with extensive experience of covering weddings all over the subcontinent. He is available for wedding photography in Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, as well as weddings in Mombasa and elsewhere in Africa.

  • Great photos and writeup. Also, classy watermarking on the photos 🙂

  • Great photos and writeup. Also, classy watermarking on the photos 🙂

  • Prathap Tharyan

    Great Photos!
    Great wedding!
    Great Couple!
    Really great Parents too, Thomas and Sara!
    Vineet, we are waiting for a repeat!

  • Prathap Tharyan

    Great Photos!
    Great wedding!
    Great Couple!
    Really great Parents too, Thomas and Sara!
    Vineet, we are waiting for a repeat!

  • Thanks for filling us in on some of the history of behind the culture.

  • Thanks for filling us in on some of the history of behind the culture.

  • hi,
    brilliant works!!

  • hi,
    brilliant works!!

  • Teena M

    Hey

    Very nice pics….Do Upload more pictures from syrian wedding alright cause I was not able to find any nice ones on google.Its hard to find.

  • Teena M

    Hey

    Very nice pics….Do Upload more pictures from syrian wedding alright cause I was not able to find any nice ones on google.Its hard to find.

  • Lisa & Ranji

    Thank you for sharing these wonderful photos. Long life and much happiness to the lovely couple.

  • Lisa & Ranji

    Thank you for sharing these wonderful photos. Long life and much happiness to the lovely couple.

  • Artalwayz

    wow! The couple looks positively radiant!!

  • Sephi, love your work. Images are very natural, clear and bright. Awesome.

  • Awesome work Sephi. Especially the final image of the couple coming out of the Church. 

  • Shruti

    I love Nasrani weddings because I am one! (A Nasrani I mean, not a wedding…) O_O