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Sumangali Prarthanai – Benefits – Sumangali Pooja Importance – When It Is Performed

Sumangali Prarthanai is a ceremony conducted in memory of a woman who has predeceased her husband. The ritual and ceremony is a prayer in the memory of the departed sumangali. Sumangali Pooja which is popular among the Brahmin community in South India, especially in Tamil Nadu, is not a Vedic ritual and is conducted exclusively by ladies. The main benefits of the puja is peace for the departed soul and peace and prosperity for her living family members.

It is also the custom that those specially invited as representing the departed sumangali should be odd in number and be selected from outside the family circle of the performer. The daughters of the house are specially invited and are served by daughter-in-law of the house. All the invitees should be Sumangalis – their husbands being alive.

The invitees are requested to assemble at the performer’s residence after an oil bath, clad in orthodox dress. A respectful reception is accorded to them as they arrive, their feet washed and offered unguents and like materials and invited to join a common prayer (prarthana) in memory of the departed sumangali and invoke her blessings for the performer.

The invitees are then given a feast, which varies according to family tradition, after which they are presented betel leaves and turmeric and a piece of silk. A full length silk cloth (sari) is presented to one of the invitees, after which all depart.

A wife who wears the mangalsutra (golden wedding chain tied round her neck by her husband) at the time of her marriage is known as a sumangali. The ritual of sumangali prarthanai is performed on the occasion of auspicious functions like wedding, upanayana and so on. The ritual can be performed before or after the specific occasion.

The importance of sumangali prarthanai lies in its being a special act of reverence which other sumangalis pay be to be departed sumangali and seek her blessings for the family of the performer. It might also be noted that there is no specific date for this ceremony, as in the case of the Vedic shraddha ritual, but is conducted on any date that is fixed by the performer. This tradition has been infused in the minds of women since old times, and it reflects the importance and status the woman obtains when her husband is alive.