Mangalya Dharam, also known as the Tying of the Sacred Thread, is a significant ritual during a South Indian wedding. It is a symbol of the groom’s acceptance of the bride as his partner for life and his commitment to take care of her.  The Mangalya Dharam ritual is performed in the presence of family members, friends, and religious priests, who bless the couple for long and prosperous married life.


Informant: AS is a 60-year-old man born in India and living in London, UK for the last 25 years.  He is my uncle. He is an Orthopedic Surgeon practicing in London. 

Interviewer:  Who and What is involved in this ritual?

AS: The groom’s family takes great care in selecting the sacred thread for the bride, which is usually passed down from generation to generation.  The thread is considered a family heirloom and is an important symbol of family pride and tradition.  The groom’s sisters and female relatives also participate in the ritual by placing kumkum or vermillion powder on the bride’s forehead, blessing her with a long and happy married life.  This ritual signifies the bride’s welcome into the family and the groom’s commitment to take care of her.  The ritual involves the tying of a sacred thread around the bride’s neck by the groom.    

Interviewer: What is the sacred thread made of?

AS: The thread is usually made of yellow thread and is adorned with sacred beads and symbols.

Interviewer:  How is the sacred thread tied?

AS: The groom ties the thread three knots around the bride’s neck, symbolizing the three-fold responsibilities of a husband towards his wife, which are Dharma, Artha, and Kama.

Interviewer: What are the husband’s responsibilities referred to by Dharma, Artha and Kama?

AS: Dharma is to support my wife and ensure her spiritual and emotional well-being. Artha is to provide financial and material support to my wife and family. Kama is to fulfill my wife’s physical and emotional needs and desires.

Interviewer: How do you know all these?

AS: I performed this ritual during my wedding.  Also, over the years, within our friends and family circle, I have attended more than 50 such rituals and learned this from elders, parents, and priests. 


The Mangalya Dharam ritual has deep cultural and spiritual significance in South Indian weddings. It is believed that the sacred thread is a symbol of the bride’s chastity and purity, and it protects her from evil spirits and negative energies.  The Mangalya Dharam ritual also reflects the changing role of women in South Indian society. While the ritual has traditionally symbolized the bride’s acceptance of her role as a wife and homemaker, it now also represents her right to equal status and respect in the family and society.  Many couples today choose to modify the traditional Mangalya Dharam ritual to include vows of mutual respect, understanding, and partnership between the bride and groom.  The significance of the Mangalya Dharam ritual goes beyond the wedding day. It is a reminder to the couple of their commitment to each other and their responsibilities towards their family and society. The thread is worn by the bride as a symbol of her marital status and is a reminder of the groom’s love and commitment towards her.