Shobi & Kevin's Gorgeous Tamil Iyer Wedding

2012 Mar 14 - by Preeti
Today's feature is a real wedding! I came across Farnaz K, a photographer based in the NYC area. She covered a gorgeous South Indian wedding with Shobi and Kevin. And as you can tell from below, they had an inter-ethnic marriage, something we're see more of these days (and something we love!).

How adorable is this couple?!

Shobi was a doll and spent a few moments with us to talk about her wedding.

The BFIW - What type of wedding did you have?

Shobi - We had a Tamil (my family is from Tamil-Nadu) Iyer wedding.


The BFIW - Could you tell us a little about the traditions in your wedding?

Shobi - We didn’t do Oonchal or Paalikai, but we did some traditions conducted during a Tamil / Iyer marriage ceremony:

Oonchal (traditional Indian swing you see inside homes): before the actual ceremony starts, the marrying couple sits on a swing decorated with flower garlands and rock back and forth as married ladies sing songs to the couple and throw rice balls (which is meant to ward off evil). It is thought that the chain in the swing represents the karmic link of humankind with god

‘Paalikai’ Seeds Sowing: Paalikai is an earthen pot, in which 9 kinds of pre-soaked seeds are prepared by a ‘Sumangali’ (married woman living with husband) the day before the marriage ceremony and left to grow. After the marriage, the seedlings are released in a river or pool. This is a fertility rite.

Threading of the grindstone: Holding the bride’s left foot’s toe, the bridegroom helps her tread on a grindstone kept on the right side of the fire.

The Manthras says: "Mount up this stone. Let thy mind be roc-firm, unperturbed, by the trials and tribulations of life!"

Saptha Padhi / Phera: The seven steps.


The BFIW - Indian wedding outfits are unique from one to another. Can you tell us more about your sari and jewelry?

Shobi - Sure! The sari I wore for my marriage ceremony was a 'kanjeevaram silk Madisar’ sari in traditional red, green and a heavy gold ‘zari’ borde r. The Madisar is worn by women of the Brahmin community in Tamil Nadu. It is different from a normal sari in that the style that it is tied in requires nine yards of sari material. A sari tied in the traditional/normal way is typically 6 yards in length.

The Madisar is usually worn for important occasions these days – weddings, baby shower, religious ceremonies, prayer days, funerals, etc.

The jewelry I wore was all gold. I had gold ‘jimiki’ (bell-shaped) earrings, had 3 layers (choker, mid-level and long) of traditional gold ‘temple-style’ necklaces and gold ‘bangles’ for the hands. All the jewelry had been bought and stored by my parents over the years, for use at moments like this.

I also wore traditional silver anklets on both my legs. And finally, my hair was adorned with jasmine flowers, very typical for South Indian women to wear.

My husband-to-be was brave enough to adorn a South Indian style ‘dhoti’. He wore a white shirt along with eight yards white silk ‘dhoti’ tied in the ‘panchakacham’ style - a form of wearing the dhoti, typically worn by Brahmin men.


The BFIW - Kevin is not Indian. How did you manage having in-laws not being Indian and following all the rules and traditions?

Shobi- Kevin is American but of Irish descent. Both his parents are first generation immigrants from Ireland. While both parents are Catholic, luckily for me, while his mother practices, his father is very spiritually inclined and interested in Indian culture. He has been to Varanasi a few times!

So suggesting that we have an Indian ceremony was never a point of contention. In fact, I didn’t even have to ask. It was understood. Also, my husband was well aware well in advance that having a Hindu wedding was the only way to go with my parents, so again, it was a non-issue for us.

We made it fun for my in-laws by taking my mother-in-law shopping for her first salwar and we bought a Kurtha for my father-in-law.


The BFIW - In three words, how would Kevin describe the ceremony?

Shobi - Hot - weather-wise, our poor guests were boiling in the morning-turned-into-afternoon heat.

Fun and colorful (okay two words!) - both Kevin and I were all smiles and some parts of the ceremony were comedic – for e.g. when he couldn’t get my silver ‘metti’ (toe rings) on to my toes OR when he had to do full namaskars to all our elders…which our western friends joked were push-ups. Also, the entire event was extremely colorful and vibrant - everything from the outfits to the flowers to the grounds at Giorgio's etc. This really made the wedding extra fun and special.

Long the ceremony alone was 1.5 hrs. And never-mind the amount of time we kept our poor guests waiting for the ceremony to start!


The BFIW - Did you have a Western wedding/reception?

Shobi - Yes, we did. The events were Western, you know the bridal party walks in, the first dance, cake cutting, sit-down dinner, etc. But we wore Indian outfits. I wore a bridal ghagra since I wore a sari for the wedding, and Kevin wore a Sherwani.

{Wedding Suppliers}

Photographer - Farnaz K Studio {}

Caterer & Wedding Venue - Giorgio’s of Baiting Hollow {}

Cake - La Bonne Boulangerie {}

Transportation (ask for Rich) - Sir Oliver Limousine {}

Priest (he was excellent) - Prakash Bhat {}

Invitations - Parekh Cards {}

Wedding Website - Wedquarters {}

Favors - WrapWithUs {}

Wedding Lehenga Alterations - Jackson Tailors, Jackson Heights, Queens, NY

Make up (ask for La Shawn Augustin) - La Hair and Makeup Artistry @ 864 Lexington Avenue, 2nd floor, NY, NY {}

Groom/Groommen’s Outfits - Gorgeous Studio {}

DJ – DJ Sharad {}

Welcome dinner the day before:

Florist = Karen Lenahan {}

Caterer = Russ Moran {}