COMMENTARY ON MAYILANCHI IDEEL
At the beginning: Mylanchi Ideel is beautification of the bride with green henna paste. People from various religions and cultures have adopted it for rituals, particularly for bridal preparation. When henna paste applies to the hands, feet, and nails, a temporary reddish-brown stain appears on the skin’s keratin. Depending on the culture and context of usage, henna has meanings such as good luck, prosperity, protection, fertility, wisdom, good health, and spiritual enlightenment.
People in India use it as a natural remedy for cooling the body and relieving the bride of any stress before her big day. The meaning of the Knanaya henna ceremony is articulated by the mylaanji song and the ritual we do now. This celebration is more than a physical beautification. It reminds us of God’s creation of Eve from the rib of Adam and the original sin by eating the forbidden fruit. Since Eve plucked the fruit with her hands and walked on feet to gain it, the henna is applied on the hands and toes as a sign of forgiveness from sins. This song concludes by asking God to bestow His blessings upon the couple.
Traditionally, this ceremony was conducted in a tent or canopy in the front yard of the bride’s home on the eve of the marriage ceremony. Let us begin this ceremony with a brief prayer service. Please stand.
After Prayer: The bride’s sister(s) now places two pedestals, known in Malayalam kurandikal, on the dais for the bride and grandmother to sit. She covers them with a new white cloth. Prior to introducing chairs in Kerala, people used to sit on kurandi. Covering it with a new white cloth is a symbol of nobility, purity, and newness. Now a traditionally lit lamp called Nilavilakku will be placed on the stage as a symbol of the divine presence of Jesus, the light of the world.
After placing the footstool and lamp: It is the privilege of the bride’s elder sister to escort her to the pandal. Let us welcome the bride now on stage.
After the bride’s entry: The bride’s paternal grandmother is the celebrant of the henna ceremony. Let us welcome her to sit beside the bride on the other pedestal (kurandi).
After the grandmother sits: I now invite the bride’s elder sister to present the green henna paste for the Mylanchi Ideel.
After the henna paste is brought: The choir will now sing Mailanchi song. When the (henna) song starts, the grandmother will apply henna on the bride’s palms and hold them together. She will also apply henna paste to the feet and nails of the bride.
When henna ceremony is over: Now is the time for giving Ichappad. The bride’s sister will bring on stage “ichappad” which is a white rice pudding and jaggery. She will also bring kindi, and kolambi that are traditional utensils for mouth rinsing.
Ichappad Ceremony: The bride’s paternal uncle fastens his shoulder cloth around his head as a crown or turban, with the two ends of the cloth pointing upwards. He will request approval from the audience three times to serve the ichappad. After gaining the approval of those present, he will assist the bride in washing her mouth with kindi and kolambi. Uncle then cleanses his hands. With his left hand supporting the elbow of his right hand, he will feed the bride with his right hand thrice, mixing the white rice pudding with the jaggery. The chosen family members will then wash their hands and present the Ichappad with the shoulder cloth remaining on their shoulders.
When Ichappad is over: The Mailanchi Ideal and Ichappad ceremonies are over. The sister will now lead the bride indoors.
The Knanayology Foundation (Knanaya Global Foundation NFP), a non-profit organization registered in IL, USA, hosts Knanayology and undertakes other projects on Knanaya Community .