The traditional South Indian wedding invitation is not a card but a printed leaflet that borrows its form from the earlier tradition of oral announcement and from the form of a hand written letter.
The invitation follows a traditional template and is always enclosed within a large decorative border. It always begins with an incantation to the family’s ancestral god at the top of the invite and is followed by clip art images of five different Hindu gods. The main content of the invitation is worded like a letter and informs the recipient of a marriage between two families.
This is followed by the bride’s and groom’s educational and professional qualifications as well as their family lineage and town. All these details are considered important as it establishes family status and lineage. It also links the past (who the bride and groom are, and where they are from) with the future of the couple. The information about the groom always appears on the left, centred and enclosed within a box while the bride’s details appear similarly in a box on the right. Following this sense of alignment, based on who the invite is from (usually the bride’s or groom’s father), the name of the addressee is placed either to the right or the left.
In general, great prominence is given to the family and often the names of various family members (uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters and cousins) are mentioned beneath the main text as well-wishers of the occasion. While this is portrayed as a visible indication of the family’s support and blessing of the union, it also works like a family tree, outlining lineage for the recipient of the invitation. The details of the actual event such as time, place and date are delegated to the base of the invite and are often in smaller type size. This hierarchy of information is telling because it clearly gives the family prominence over the details of the wedding event.