Why Do South Indian Couples Shower Each Other With Rice Grains | Talambralu Ritual

By TGB Desk / On June 19th, 2018

Indian weddings are absolutely B-E-A-UTIFUL! We admire and adore their timeless traditions, effortless charm, grandeur, age old rituals and of course fun elements. One of the rituals followed in a South Indian (especially Telugu) wedding that is as beautiful as it is meaningful is Talambralu. Nothing screams tradition like this ritual. Nothing. Not only does this ritual provide an opportunity to have fun but also gives a chance to take a lovely snapshot that could be preserved for posterity. In addition, it joins both the families together in the fun and festivities.

PC – Aashish Photography 

So whats the meaning & significance of Talambralu?

PC – Satya Devineni Photography
Akshathalu (meaning something that cannot be destroyed) are made using rice grains (that are not broken while they were being cleaned and hulled), turmeric and saffron. The ritual where the newly wedded couple shower each other with Akshathalu is known as Talambralu (pronounced as Thalambraalu). The rich and affluent use pearls for this ritual (muthyala talambralu in Telugu).

PC – Aashish Photography 
Thalambu (head) + raalu (shower) = shower over the head
Rice is the staple food of South Indians and turmeric is considered auspicious. So a shower of rice grains mixed with turmeric is considered a sign of abundance and propserity. In addition, it also signifies unbreakable bond of love as Akshatahs (unbroken rice) are used for this ritual.

PC – Aashish Photography 
This is the reason why the newly wedded couple, who are considered as manifestations of the celestial couple Mahalakshmi and Sri Mahavishnu, shower each other with Akshathalu!

PC – Photriya Photography

As per the history, Kancharla Gopanna worked as a Revenue Inspector in the court of Golconda Nawabs. He was a pious man who discharged his duties with utmost sincerity. He once happened to visit Bhadrachalam along with a few devotees and a seed of Rama bhakti was sown in his heart. He was saddened to note that the deities were without a roof over their heads.
How can a Lord who rules the entire universe be at the mercy of the five elements???
His devotion was so great that he decided to provide an answer to this question lingering in his mind by constructing a temple with 6 lakh rupees in his possession without the permission from the Nawab. The temple was built and all hell broke loose. He was summoned by the Nawab and was immediately arrested for misuse of official position and misappropriation of revenue funds. He was jailed for a period of 12 years and was subjected to inhuman torture. When he could no longer bear the atrocities he pleaded with Lord Rama to save him from the clutches of misery by singing keertanas in his praise. Even now in both the Telugu states, Ramadasu keertanas are popular among musicians and commoners alike.

PC – Cahaya Photography
Finally, Rama and his brother Lakshmana visit in the dream of the Golconda Nawab, Tanishah and pay him 6 lakh gold mohurs. When Tanisha wakes up from his dream he finds a huge pile of gold coins as an evidence of the visit of the celestial brothers. They were not just any mohurs but gold coins bearing the emblem of Lord Rama (locally known as Rama Madalu)! That’s when Tanisha realises how wrong he was in subjecting a great devotee like Ramadasu to severe suffering and seeks his forgiveness.
Psst…it is said that Ramadasu became a little despondent when he learned that Lord Rama decided to appear to Nawab (who tortured his devotee) first and not him (a great devotee of Lord Rama). But then he realised that the time has to come for everything!
Coming back to the story, Tanishah who was overcome with remorse declared that income from Palwancha Paragana has to be used for the temple maintenance. In addition, he also decreed that the pearls to be used in Sri Sita Rama Kalyanam as Talambralu would be sent from the government coffers during the reign of Qutub Shahis. This tradition of offering Muthyala talambralu (pearls) continues till date. Every year, the state Government of Telangana, as a tradition sends an envoy on the behalf of Government to offer pearls to the temple in Bhadrachalam for the celestial wedding.

PC – Studio 31

Story Time Folks!
Want to know the story behind the Muthyala Thalambralu?

PC – Harishankar Photography
A long time ago, there lived a beautiful princess Sita Devi in the kingdom of Avanti. The word about her divine beauty spread far and wide. When her swayamvara was announced, a lot of princes and kings competed to win her hand. But Rama, a handsome prince from Ayodhya won the contest and her heart too. The union of Srirama and Sita was celebrated across the universe! As per tradition, the couple were to shower each other with pearls after mangalasutra dharana and therefore mounds of pristine white pearls were kept ready. When it was time for the ritual, Rama scooped up pearls with both his hands to shower Sita and everyone let out a gasp as the pearls dazzled like blue saphires (reflecting the beautiful complexion of Srirama!). They say at that very moment Rama decides to look at his bride and smiles when she hesitantly returns his gaze. And the pearls turned an alluring ruby-red as they were showered upon the coy bride Sita (with roses blooming in her cheeks).

PC – Studio 31

Another reference in the literature…
Tallapaka Annamacharya (a 15th century saint – poet), in one of his keertanas, chose to describe the beauty of a bride during Thalambralu ritual –
పిడికిట తలంబ్రాల పెండ్లి కూతురు కొంత –
పడమరలి నవీనె పెండ్లి కూతురు

pidikita talambrala pendli kuturu konta |
pedamarali navvīne pendli kūturu ||
Meaning – “While holding the Akshathalu in both her palms for Talambralu ritual
the bride turned a little to the side and smiled…”

PC – Lakshmi Photography

Our heart skips a beat every time we come across a Talambralu picture!

So tell us, aren’t you enamored by this ritual?

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