One of the most important events in the course of a Telugu Hindu wedding, is the placing of a thick paste of wet jaggery and cumin seeds, by the bride and the groom on each other’s head. In fact , this event is the real culmination of the wedding, (though there are other important rituals that follow this), and it takes place precisely at the auspicious moment, decided by scholars well-versed in the scriptures, taking into account, the horoscopes of the couple when the match is contemplated. The couple perform this ritual from beneath a veil, while seated face to face , but separated by the thick veil (called terasellaa ). The moment over, the veil is lifted away, and the couple is allowed or rather advised to look intently into each other’s eyes.
Sri Krishna Deva Raya describes this ritual in a beautiful poem in his epic Amukta Maalyada.
Here is my attempt at translation of the verse into English.
‘The huge screen, long and wide, sent in by the Gods from the heavens, just in time for the ritual, glittered with paintings of liquid gold, and had a dark border sewed-on with pearls. Burgeoning with love towards each other, the couple placed the jaggery and cumin seeds on each other’s head, bowed forward readily, while their eager eyes gleamed with enchantment.’
Here is the Telugu original,
‘Kaladauta drava chitramul meraya, mukta-asyootamau maechaka-
anchalampu-ben-dra vaari lagnamu samaasannambugaa -vaelpu-be-
ddalu pampan, guda jeerakambul samudyat-praean-anyoanya man-