Weddings!! Happiest day in a womens life. It is one of the most memorable and an eventful day where every single woman all over the world have looked forward for this beautiful transition to being married from being single. But what makes this transition more beautiful and exciting for a young woman is accumulating her “Trousseau”.
I got familiar with the word trousseau right through my growing up days from the stories I heard from my mother and late grandmother, be it on their sarees or jewellery which was passed on from their mothers. My mom even had in mind which saree she wanted to pass on to me even before they found me a groom.
In a small community like Coorg, the family of the groom has no role to play in the bridal trousseau since the entire responsibility of the trousseau, end to end, is borne by the family of the bride.
The people of Coorg are racially and culturally quite diverse people. The wedding celebration kick starts a week or three days prior at the bride’s house and the event is called “Potti Dumbh Chiduvo” ( Packing the bridal trousseau ) and is attended by close family members. Preceding to packing of the bridal stuff, it is quite common in Coorg to have guests-: relatives and friends visiting home to see the new sarees of the bride.
The bridal trousseau in the Coorg community is of greatest importance. It is to ensure, the new bride does not face any trouble and is left self-sufficient with all her required day to day necessities and lives comfortably at her new home. Since Coorg’s doesn’t follow any dowry system , unless the bride’s family voluntarily offers to gift the groom, importance is given to the trousseau and what the parents of the bride would like to give their daughter merely depends on the economic status of the family. There is an old saying doing rounds within the community, “ The new bride should not demand anything from her husband’s family at least for quite some time, hence it is a tradition and the responsibility of her family to leave her self-sufficient at her new home”
Some mandatory essentials apart from apparels, bed linens, crockeries etc that goes into a Coorg brides’ trousseau are the Sarees , traditional Coorg jewelleries and “Kacchi Mutt” (Brass Items). It’s a practice in Coorg, the count of the saree ought to be of an odd number, the minimum usually starts with 21 and goes up to 101, it all depends on the bride’s passion for sarees or on the financial capability of the family.
Although, Sarees and traditional Coorg jewelleries is embraced significant in a trousseau, however upmost priority is given to the “Kacchi Mutt” or the brass items and the Coorg bride’s trousseau and the wedding ritual goes incomplete without this. Basically, when Kacchi Mutt is taken as a trousseau to the groom’s house, it signifies, the bride has equal rights and authority in her new home, explains my aunt Latha. “Kacchi Mutt comprises of five important essential items made of brass and is considered quite sacred in the trousseau.
The essentials are – Water pot- to fetch water from the well, Plate – for the bride to have her meal, Small size Uruli- To be used for her hair oil , Small pot – equivalent to a mug and lastly a wide bottom vessel called Bhogani. The story behind the usage of “Bhogani” that has been doing rounds within the community is, olden days the dwellings in the villages was made with limited facilities inside the house. If at all, the bride had to attend the natures call late in the night, Bhogani was of use to relieve herself , rather going out in the dark.
The brides of the olden era found these essentials very useful at their new home due to lack of amenities then, however these items are not much of a use off late, as most of the houses now is equipped with up-to-date amenities. Though these customs is passed on to generations, these brass items carried is used as decorative purpose at their respective homes and the presence of these brass items around the home constantly reminds of the rich tradition the community follows and is also a learning and an inspiration for the future generations.
Last part of the trousseau is the mattress. There are no theories on this doing round, yet a brand-new mattress is given to the bride to be used at her new home.
On the day of packing, family of the bride invokes the almighty. Coorgs, have the tradition of praying for the ancestors and Goddess Cauvery and Lord Igguthappa before the commencement of an event. All the bridal stuff which is to be given to the bride is placed on a mat in the main hall. Just the way, the saree count and Kacchi mutt should be off odd number, the main chests to which the stuffs are packed should also be off an odd number. One box is filled with sarees and jewellery and the remaining two is filled with other necessary items required for the bride , summing up to three, which generally holds good enough to accommodate all her trousseau belongings.
The ladies in the family help the bride to pack her trousseau onto the chest. Before packing the sarees, the best woman (Bojakarthi) of the bride sprinkles some rice grains and few whole peppers on to the chest. The logic behind this is, to keep the chest sanitised and shoo away any insects from spoiling the sarees, says my mom Gowra Puttichanda. Thereafter , in a pouch, other essentials like kartha mani (black beads which is called mangal sutra) , six black bangles, a small comb made of wood, mirror of a small size, hardened Vibhuthi, needle and thread is placed at the bottom and is followed by placing each sarees one after the other wrapped in a muslin cloth. Onto the same chest, goes the jewelleries and some cash for the bride. The significance of giving cash to the bride is for two reasons. One – not to be dependent at her new home for quite some time and second – to offer money to the kids if any in the family of her groom, the day after her wedding. Thereafter, the brass items are packed and tied in a white pouch and all the packed stuff of three chests and the brass items are placed in the main hall till the day of the wedding and is carried to the wedding venue , the day bride leaves her parents’ home.
Post Muhurtam, the three chests and the Kacchi mutt (brass items) is handed over to the groom’s family signifying, now the bride is officially handed over to the new family.
Once the bride is welcomed at her new home, the following day there is a custom at the groom’s house to see the collection of sarees the new bride has brought. The chests are placed in the main hall and prior to opening, almighty is invoked by sprinkling some grains over the box.
Some forty years ago, the trousseau sarees were shown to the guests right after lunch at the wedding venue itself , says my mom. However, this trend changed over a period of time and was stopped to safeguard the reputation of the bride’s family from getting embarrassed as some families were capable enough to give a good trousseau for their daughter and some could not afford well. Hence, from then on , seeing the trousseau of the bride became a very private affair, limited only at the groom’s house. Yet, there are families who do not follow the tradition of seeing the trousseau , since it is considered as a personnel possession of the bride and her privacy is respected. However, it is up to the bride to volunteer and show her trousseau to her new family.
Due to globalization, the younger generation of Coorgs may have moved out of the district, state or Country, yet, the beautiful and these small unique tradition which is part of the wedding journey and culture of Coorg which has a mystic charm to it , will always remain special and is carried with great pride which has been passed on to generations and shall continue to carry forward , the most significant aspects of Coorg tradition.