The Banana Leaf and its importance in South Indian Weddings

South Indian Weddings and banana leaves go hand-in-hand. It's hard not to imagine a South Indian wedding without one!

The Banana Leaf and its Importance in South Indian Weddings


South Indian weddings and banana leaves go hand-in-hand. It's hard not to imagine a South Indian wedding without one! This is because the banana leaf’s cultural and social impact runs deep. Let’s peel out the reasons why the banana leaf is so fondly used across South Indian weddings.

The Banana leaf in our day-to-day lives:


The mighty Banana leaf has a humble origin dating back to the Mesopotamians and the Indus valley civilization. Back then and even now, the Banana leaf has had a simple and sole purpose, which is to - serve. The humble use of the banana leaf can be seen across many South Indian states. Especially in states like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, and Odisha. In Hindu mythology, it is also believed that the Banana symbolises prosperity and fertility. 


In temples all over India, the banana leaf is used to carry the darshan and prasad offerings. The green on the banana leaf signifies that the couple is blessed with a new beginning in life. It is a traditional custom in Hindu culture to decorate the entrance of the wedding hall and the wedding house of both the bride and the groom with two banana stems. This symbolizes eternity and prosperity for the wedding that is about to happen.


One particular and popular use of the banana leaf can be observed in Kerala during the Onam Festival. It is believed that King Mahabali himself comes down and blesses the occasion and a celebratory meal is prepared called the “Sadhya.” The meal is said to be a meal fit for the gods. Sadhya’s are also served at weddings, known as wedding Sadhya

Culturally across India, the plantain leaf represents hospitality and kindness with food. When a couple is newly married in South India, the first meal that they serve guests who visit them (Virundhu), is a meal on a Banana leaf.  


Photo by Nixon Johnson 


Why is the banana leaf so popular?


 The Leaf and its benefits

Banana leaves are broad, thick, and waterproof, making them an excellent choice for serving food, also known as Elai Sapad or plantain leaf food. But what really sets them apart from other serving options are the nutritional and medicinal benefits. 


Banana leaves are filled with plant-based compounds called polyphenols. The warm food served on the leaf stimulates the polyphenols which get absorbed in the food. The leaf is known to have important medicinal properties, which is why it is widely used as a herb in various ayurvedic and Siddha preparations.

When eaten whole, Bananas are a staple source for starch and fibre. They have a high level of serotonin in them, which is a good mood stabilizer. They help prevent constipation and help maintain a healthy p.h balance in the stomach. To top it all off, they are an excellent source of vitamin B6


Save the environment and your money! 

Almost all weddings have a considerable amount of plastic as waste, with the majority of them being used in wedding decorations and cutlery. Plastic in comparison to a banana leaf is expensive and incredibly hard to dispose of. 


A Banana leaf, on the other hand, is completely biodegradable, natural, hygienic, chemical-free, and you can save water as you don’t have to wash them. Using reusable and compostable products at your wedding can save you money and the environment - just like it did for this couple


Banana leaves as decor:
The rich green colour of the banana leaf makes it easy for any other colour to pop vibrantly against it. They are easy to mould, shape, and cut. This makes it an amazing choice for centrepieces. The stem of the banana leaf is made of a durable material and can be also used to make chairs. Banana fibre can also be used to make shirts or other clothing articles.

This doubles as a great wedding return gift.  All you need to do is source the leaves or find the right decorator who specializes in banana leaf decoration. The banana leaf’s rich and cultural value runs deep in South Indian culture. Along with this, the banana leaf is also good for your health, the environment, and a great way to decorate your wedding.





The meal on a Banana Leaf:

Everything tastes better on a Banana leaf, especially South Indian meals. A South Indian meal on a banana leaf has different names in various South Indian languages. 


The banana leaf meal is known as Vaazhai Elai Sapad in Tamil Nadu, Sadhya in Kerala, BaaLe Ele OoTa in Karnataka, and Arati Aako in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

 
The proprietary dishes that get served on a Banana leaf are similar in all the 4 states. Some of the staple South Indian dishes that get served on a banana leaf are:

1. White Rice: The quintessential part of any south Indian meal is, white rice  

2. Sweet: Every meal has a sweet dish that is consumed at the last; Payasam, kheer, rice pudding, etc.

3. Dhall podi and Ghee: Dhall is a spicy lentil powder that is mixed with desi-ghee and rice which results in a gastronomical experience
4. Sambar: Aromatic mixed vegetable lentil gravy. This is a staple gravy in all South Indian meals

5. Poriyal: Stir-fried vegetables of different variations in cooking.This is also called Palya or Sabzi

6. Kuzhambu:  This is a spicy gravy that is served next to the Sambhar
7. Rasam: A spicy broth that is light and tangy. This aids in the digestion of the food

8. Appalam: Also called as papadum is prepared with urad dal and deep-fried in oil

9. Vadai: Deep-fried lentil fritters
10. Payasam: Also called as kheer or pudding

11. Curd Rice: Yoghurt and rice are mixed in what is popularly known as curd rice. A delicacy that is enjoyed by all  

12. Pickle:  Brined vegetables like garlic, ginger, lemon, onions, etc., are mixed with chilli powder and other spicy elements

13. Buttermilk: Buttermilk is a fermented dairy drink that is had at the end of the meal. The sour drink aids with digestion.  

14. Banana: A banana is served at the end of the meal

15. Pan / Beeda: A sweet Beeda, or Date Beeda is served at the end of  a meal. There are different varieties of Beeda like Ice-cream beeda, Maghai Beeda, Date Beeda, Gold-foil Beeda, Silver-foil Paan, 

Plain Beeda with just betel nut and leaves, Sweet Paan, Banarasi style paan, etc.


Celebrate your wedding with MatimonyBazaar

Now that you know how amazing banana leaves are for your wedding, hope you don’t miss out on this traditional style of dining!

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MatrimonyBazaar is a one-stop-shop for all wedding services. To find out more, you can reach our wedding planning expert at +91 812 422 226  or send us an email at care@matrimonybazaar.com.  If you’re having trouble finding the right caterer for your wedding, head on over to our in-depth guide on hiring a caterer for your wedding.

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