|| Mangalyam tantunanena mama jeevana hetuna: kanthe banbjj hhjggdhnami subhage twam jeeva sarada satam ||

This is a Sanskrit shloka chanted by the priest whilst the groom ties the mangalsutra or taali around the bride’s neck in a Hindu marriage.  It means “This is a sacred thread which is essential for my long life. I am placing this around your neck so that you can live happily for a hundred years (with me)”. Taali is a sacred thread or chain which when tied seals the marriage and the couple is termed husband and wife.

Today in a world where marriages are solemnized and valid for few hours there are couples who have lived a life of togetherness for more than four decades. As per Hindu culture, when the husband turns sixty the family celebrates it with pomp and show. This event is called Shashti Poorthi, Shashti meaning sixty and Poorthi meaning completion.  The wedding rituals are repeated by the couple in this ceremony. Normally in a wedding people who attend it bless the newly wed. But in case of Shashti Poorthi the couple blesses the guests. It’s considered very fortunate to be blessed by such a couple as it’s not always that both the husband and wife are alive on the husband’s sixtieth birthday.

The couple’s sons and daughters get together and run the whole show.  It’s an affair where all the generations, extended family members and friends could spend a great time together.  The day starts early before dawn with the Ganapathy Homam.

All set for the rituals to start

We offer our prayers to Lord Ganesha the elephant headed deity. This is followed by the Laxmi Pooja and Aayush PoojaLaxmi is the goddess of wealth and the Aayush pooja is done to pay homage to the Aayur deity for long life and well being. Lord Shiva is invoked as Mahakaal the primal force that has conquered time and hence death. The rituals are exhaustive and various homas are performed.

Throughout the puja mantras and shlokas are chanted and durva (grass), cow’s milk, clarified butter, fruits, grains, flowers, leaves, twigs, coconut are offered. Offerings are made to the five elements sky, water, earth, fire and air through the homam or havan.

The priest performing the rituals

As in a typical south Indian wedding the husband arrives clad in a veshti (a white garment tied around the waist) with his relatives accompanied by music playing in the background. The melodious nadaswaram, an acoustic musical instrument, and the thavil (barrel like musical instrument) bring in the traditional tempo in the occasion. The husband and wife (dressed in a silk sari) then exchange garlands and rings as in a wedding. The husband again ties the mangalsutra around the wife’s neck.

The couple then blesses all the guests and relatives present in the happening. As a mark of respect the young fall on their feet and get the elderly couple’s blessings.

The event is followed by a feast for all the attendees. It’s a grand spread of all the south Indian delicacies on a plantain leaf.

Bride and groom having their lunch

On this day most couples do danam or charity. It could be food, clothes, gold, silver etc of their choice. This ceremony is conducted at home or in a rented mandap – hall. Few visit the Thirukkadaiyur temple to perform these rites and celebrate the completion of sixty long years. You would find people thronging this temple to revisit their matrimonial vows with their kith and kin. This temple is situated in Southern India – Nagapattinam district.

The celebration recurs when the husband turns an octogenarian and is called as Sadaabishegam. If you do get a chance to be a part of this extravagant festivity and merriment don’t misss it.

Note – The above pictures are of my father-in-law’s shashti poorthi celebrations and hence watermarked.

This post was written by Rathina Sankari N: mother of two lovely kids, software professional and addicted blogger. Rathina lovea reading anything related to fiction, visiting new places and capturing those special moments. During her spare time she tries to cook up delicacies that interest her and her kids. Rathina am a resident of a country that is filled with varied colors and flavors of culture and tradition – India – where every day is a celebration. Find Rathina on her blog Rathina’s Viewspace

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