As we enter a small local temple , the decoration of the gods tells us a very special ceremony is going on. A young couple is celebrating their wedding. I don’t know if this marriage was an arranged marriage as most are still here.
The traditional way is that the families search for suitable matches with the help of relatives and friends. There was a time when the bride's family was required to present a dowry to the groom and his family. This originally was probably paid in the form of land or cattle, more recently it has involved money and goods such as televisions, refrigerators and even motor-scooters. This custom became very expensive for the parents of girls. And, in some cases, even led to the killing of girl children. In more recent times it has led to men claiming that their wives have met with a terrible accident when, in fact, the husband killed the wife in order to get a new wife with a new dowry. Such abuses have led to the outlawing of the dowry. However, especially in villages the payment of dowry still seems to be one of the rules of the marriage game.
Offerings are an essential part of Hindu worship. During puja a devotee presents items that, according to tradition, the particular god or goddess likes: often flowers, special foods, grains, coconuts, incense or oils. The items of preference vary from region to region and can usually be purchased at stands or stalls near temples.
The puja offerings popular in Madurai included coconut, bananas, incense, coloured powder and small packets of ghee for covering the statues.