The Mappillai Thozhn

  1. Main Piece: Sri Lankan Wedding Ritual: The Mappillai Thozhn
  2. Informant Background:
    1. What is it: Younger male relative of the bride is a “second groom.” He dresses up in the same outfit as the groom, walks in with the groom, sits with the married couple, and is just as important as the groom.
    2. Where did you learn it: One day my grandma and cousins were joking. I have two older cousins that are females, and they joked that I would be the Mappillai Thozhn at their wedding, and after they explained to me what it was, I noticed at the next wedding I went to, that there was a young boy sitting alongside the groom wherever he went.
    3. Why is is practiced? I don’t know the exact meaning, but the way I interpret it, it’s sort of a giving away meaning. Rather than the father giving the daughter away, it is sort of like the brother giving his sister away.
    4. What does it mean to you: I think it’s kind of cute, but I also think it’s a symbol how oddly anti feminist an Indian society can be – a symbol of one man giving away a woman to another man.
  3. Context of Performance: Wedding
  4. My Thoughts: While Arjuna mentioned Indian society as antifeminist, it can be seen, through several of the other Sri Lankan Wedding Folklore that have been collected, that there is also a strong value and respect given to women and the sacrifice they are expected to make. This is an interesting practice though, I have never heard of such a practice – usually the groom is the most important man of the night, however here the brides brother is being seen given equal importance. Much like Arjuna said, it is symbolic that she is transferring from the protection of one man to another. In Indian culture, even the younger brother is expected to protect his sister. I’m sure this is also an empowering moment for the young boy as well – his older sister who has been taking care of him as well is leaving, and he is to step up and give her away.