I(‘ll) do

One of my colleagues is getting married and his wedding card was very cute. I couldn’t help but click it. I loved it. Different from the usual ones I see in rectangle or square shapes.


Well, I have only one advice for him 😉 :

The most important four words for a successful marriage: ‘I’ll do the dishes.’-Anonymous


AWAW Challenge: Traditional

traditional  wedding conducted in Abirami Temple, Thirukadaiyur for the older couple when one of them have crossed 60 years of age, mostly the male. It is called ShashtiaptaPoorthi. It is a very important milestone and the couple get remarried in this temple, which is famous especially for this purpose only. And this wedding involves the couple getting the blessings of animals like Elephant & Cow. It is a very very old temple and a minimum of 200 weddings happen in a day.


Tie that noose…oops! sorry …knot

Earlier I wrote on how we arrange marriages here in my place and culture. So let me close that loop with the event that happens when all the chips fall in place for the future bride and groom, yes the Wedding. Even thinking of it makes me feel very tired. Its that long. Earlier it used to be a week’s event. Now it has reduced to a day and half or a maximum of a two day event. But again, it depends on a lot of things, like monetary buffer, the halls, the caterers, the kind of wedding the bride and groom wants etc etc. But in general its a 2 day event. There are all kinds of weddings in Hinduism, based on the caste and culture. I ain’t even going to explain it, but will give you a gist of what happens in Iyer caste. A detailed list is there in here (the same old Wikipedia). But if you really want to see some pictures and a detailed account, I saw a link that does that.

It is this event where you have all the relatives (the ones you speak, don’t speak; you see, don’t want to see), everyone,  who descends with small gifts and huge expectations that they will be treated like royals (especially the groom’s side). We have some funny and nice traditions among the whole list. Here are some.

Before the groom is tied to the bride, he is given an option where he can run like hell not back to his bachelor-dom but to a state which is supposed to be a state next to marriage, i.e the life of a recluse. That is called Kaasi yaatra (where Kasi aka Varanasi is a place famous to become a recluse or a yogi or a sanyasi…however you want to name it). The groom is supposed to contemplate on that particularly nice option and the bride’s father is supposed to bribe him 😉 OK not actually bribe but convince him with his girl’s qualities and how he will be happy being married to her and all. And then the groom is supposed to feel good about it and come back to the marriage hall with his father in law. Sounds funny right ? But that is one of the procedures actually. Fair is fair (exchange rates  and so forth – Courtesy: A Good Woman).

There is another tradition where the bride and groom are made to sit in a swing (called Oonjal in Tamil) and women stand around and sing relevant Carnatic classical songs and giving them something to eat  (banana, sugar or something like that) and specific relatives (old ladies actually) are given rice balls to ward off evil effects and these old ladies take that opportunity to throw that ball on whom so ever they choose to take revenge on. No wonder their husbands are never near by.

Even the garland exchanging ceremony is funny because the bride and groom are supposed to be lifted by their respective maternal uncle’s and each has to make sure the other party doesn’t succeed in garlanding their team leader (bride / groom). First of all, there must be some maternal uncle, and then he must be strong enough to lift the bride or groom and then hold them enough for the game to see who is successful in garlanding and who succumbs to the pressure and gives up and thrusts their neck towards the garland admitting defeat and submitting themselves to the other. You might think that it is easy for the groom. But nope, because guys usually weigh more than the gals, so the uncle(s) wont be able to hold them long and they are ones who eventually end up giving their necks 😉 to the bride.

The procedure where they actually tie the knot is a very teary affair, not because it is emotional, that comes later of course, but because we have to sit before a small fire that is burnt with lot of herbs and wood etc evoking the Fire God to precede the bride and groom and bless them. With all that silky dresses and heavy make up and jewelry, it is really a very sweaty and teary affair, no doubt. And the final act of giving away the bride is done by the father. The bride sits on the father’s lap and then is given to the groom who accepts it graciously after saying some chants (actually they are promises that he will take care of the woman the way her father has been taking care of her and all that stuff)

After all that emotional processes there comes a time in the evening where everyone is relaxed and there enjoy something called Nalangu. Where there are two teams, that of bride and groom (nope, they are not in the same team yet) and everyone is ready to play. It can range from putting a gold ring in a pot full of milk and asking both bride and groom to go at it together and see who emerges the winner with the ring, to singing competition, to feeding each other, to exploding papads on each other’s heads (the other can try to escape) and so on and so forth. This is done mainly to diffuse the tension of the previous two days and to let the two new people to start their new life with some fun.

No wonder after two days of the events, people (including the newly married couple) sleep like dead for a week 🙂 (they may not say it , but what choice do they really have). If you ever get a chance,do attend one. It is always good to be part of these as long as you are just a visitor and not part of any of those families or worse being the bride or the groom 🙂

Arranging a marriage

This post was inspired by a recent post that I read in Freshly Pressed and a comment I made in another post.

In India, the concept of arranged marriages are still very much prevalent. Here are some details of how it happens. Even though the sequence below is the mostly practiced one down South, there are always changes and variations based on the people and families involved. This post is based on the experiences of the astrologer in the family and that of my siblings and friends who went on that road well traveled. (Note: In the post, the bride and groom are to be considered as prospective bride and groom only)

Arranged marriages, almost 90% of the time, involve horoscopes. Unless and otherwise the families are non-believers and / or they have already decided that the bride and groom are to be married as per the ‘promises’ already made etc etc.. only in such cases, the horoscopes are skipped.

The bridge/groom’s parents/relative(s) scrounges for horoscopes from the various input modes available (internet,other relatives, relative’s relatives, known family, acquaintances, marriage brokers, agents….list is endless). Once they get hold of a horoscope(s), they go to the astrologer(s) and verify the same for compatibility (of social status, of families, of bride and groom , of procreation, of wealth, of health …. you name it) More on that here. They also try and understand the overall character of the groom/bride from the given horoscope (yes, that is possible, just ask your astrologer 😉 ) Mostly people will go for minimum of 6 out of 10 for a good match and if it exceeds that then it is a better match (Just don’t let that bride/groom out of your hand). Anything less than that (6 is the ideal number) , it is not worth pursuing unless they are desperate and are finding no matches at all and are ready for some remedial measures , if that is possible.

Once they score a good one there, then they contact the other family and let them know about the match and both discuss on how they want to proceed. They try to exchange photos for a ‘initial’ look before proceeding. Earlier the bride’s father should have to go and welcome the groom’s to their home, but that doesn’t happen much now. Then they plan on the ‘meet’ the bride/groom event. The groom usually visits the bride. The parents talk about their families and about the ‘achievements’ of their kid(s) and all that usual stuff. If the bride/groom are smart enough, they get the chance to talk to each other under the watchful eye of their parents, of course, they are given a little privacy that they won’t be heard. Sometimes, the bride could be asked to sing (not dance) if she is capable of it [When we had been to my brother’s meet the bride event, my brother did ask if the bride could sing , just for fun, but was outsmarted when she actually started singing and we didn’t know how to ask her to stop]. What they talk between them will anyway be inquired by their parents later. Once the event is done, the groom’s family lets the bride’s family know that they will be in contact about the decision. Very few people decide then and there. Because mostly the parents need time to investigate the other family through friends and acquaintances.

Both families talk to the prospective bride/groom and ask their opinion and if that is different from that of their parent’s, then some negotiation’s and convincing and arguments happen. Once they find a match where things from both ends are positive, that is when they allow the bride and groom to talk to each other outside of their watchful eyes. But going out (like dating) or too much emotional attachment is discouraged and anything of that sort is at their (bride/groom’s) own risk.

The parents discuss about the engagement and a time frame that would be suitable for the wedding ceremony after consulting again with their astrologer on the ‘good date’s’ based on the horoscopes. They can decide to have the engagement either the day before the marriage or they can have it earlier as a sort of promise and take some time for the wedding ceremony. Time is important because it all depends on the wedding hall availability, the contractor’s available for the food and other decorations etc. More than the two families , those things take a little extra precedence. If the engagement happens in advance then it is like a sort of half-marriage and both the parents will not have any objections to their children going out together , but still staying late or staying away from home is a strict no.

And finally the wedding, where the lives of these two unknown or starting-to-know individuals come together in the holy matrimony to start the path of discovery of a new life together.

That actually covers the basics 😉 Wanted to keep it short and simple. But here is something to relax you and to let you know what it feels like. Here is a video clip of a scene from a movie (no subtitles and is in Tamil), where the bride and groom are meeting for the first time, yeah that ‘meet the bride/groom event’ . Some background info for the clip: The groom is a military man and is home for a vacation and his parents and sisters drag him from the railway station to meet the prospective bride at their home. Even though both the bride and groom are very modern, they have to behave in a certain way amongst the elders. Later the groom complains that the bride is too traditional for his taste , where infact she isn’t 😉 Yes, it is ideal to wear a saree for these events, may be not like the one that beautiful actress has worn with all that jewelry but still it is expected that the bride look her best.