Religiously writing for almost a year, what I encounter now is probably the writer’s block bug…The past few days have been the most hectic of my life, probably. I dedicate this post once again to the arranged marriageomania ( Oh No, Cloudnine, Not again!) that has been gripping our family, akin to Anna Hazare and his Jan Lokpal. Indeed I feel a la Anna, my sibling is now happily engaged to the girl of his and our liking! It took us almost a year, eight advertisements in The Hindu, two renewals in Tamilmatrimony.com, Shaadi.com, blah blah blah matrimony.com, few personal “ bride seeing ceremonies” where the brides were dumped unceremoniously and numerous choice meetings, my sibling is hitched- finally.
The ordeal is far from over. When my brother spends his every living moment live relaying the happenings back home to his sweet heart, we break our heads thinking and planning the Last Mega Wedding of our family. The guest list still in fledgling stage, the list of to- dos and not to dos keeps trailing. We Indians are suckers of lavish weddings and parties, aren’t we? Starting from the choice of dress, jewellery, food, décor, entertainment, conveyance, priest, registration, wedding hall and accommodation, everything is a myriad maze- huh, I feel my head spinning! The food one Uncle likes, a cousin dislikes. The dress code confusions start from the argument if the reception should be North Indian theme based or Mallu theme or traditional Tamil theme. Whatever be the style, we don’t mind ending up dressed for a Halloween in full swing! I have attended receptions where the dusky brides sparkle…ahem…in blaring red designer sarees with kundan and zardosi work, oh, essentially with saree’s pallu draped over the right shoulder- typical Gujarati style!
And the food that goes waste in one of our weddings can feed entire Somalia a day! When you suggest vegetarian food to your relatives ( please note, from here onwards, do read relatives as laxatives, who give you loose stools;)) you see trouble with a capital T in their eyes. The response is like – “ What, are you sane? Even village folks have mutton curry and rice!” Oh yeah, add to that brain fry, blood poriyal, mota rice and a potato laden mutton curry where you have to appoint a private detective to find a piece of mutton! I had once attended a wedding of my relative in a remote village down South where I was awe struck watching a few Martians(!) gobbling food. The rice heaped like a mole hill, the curry poured in a well dug within the rice and bone after bone after bone came flying out of the carpet you call a banana leaf!
And to talk about the priests- the lesser said, the better. The well- being of the wedded pair is directly proportional to the number of priests conducting the wedding! There was a priest who made it a point to conduct weddings in haste and sending a XXXL sized food container to the wedding halls for food with the tag line- “ NO VEGETARIAN FOOD PULEEEEES!” And the conveyance they ask for is state of the art- two wheelers are a strict NO. NO! Bigger the car, interesting the sermon! The compulsory gifts they ask can range from anything between speaker sets for the Church to notebooks and books for the poor children ( that is perfectly good!) And the EQ is often provided by the poor fathers of the bride and groom who amuse the guests with their spoofs…Oh, for extra spice there is an orchestra who start with a “ There shall be showers of Blessing” and keep on singing. Man, they have nerves of steel to keep the songs coming when the guests simply eye the dining hall. And getting to the dining hall as the first round of food is served, is by itself a martial art that kids these days must be taught at school. It’s a unique mix- match of kung- fu, karate and boxing… dining- fu! You have to elbow your way through a barricade of sweaty guests who are thoroughly fit to win Takeshi’s Castle!
As for arranging the accommodation, there were days when people loved to roll on striped multi-coloured blankets in the wedding halls under the rickety fans. Probably our fathers and forefathers might have attended numerous weddings sleeping on such rugs, bathing in nearby rivers and ponds and attending the wedding. But nowadays there is so much fuss and hullaballoo on stay that we all need separate rooms for families. Booking almost all the rooms in a nearby hotel, people almost come to a fist fight as to who should get the A/C ones and the non A/C ones. Non A/C always goes to the lesser mortals!
Our weddings are always an effort to show the pride and pomp, a showcase of our way of life and status. What is left behind is the importance we give to the relationship and bonding that emerges in every wedding. We receive a new uncle, aunt, a cousin, a brother, sister, brother in law, father in law and a mother in law. We fail to understand that it is the life- long relationship that matters, not the mutton biriyani we had and the chicken 65 we fought over! No, I am not against such mega weddings…you all read me wrong. Even after all these bugging problems, I just love such weddings for the festivities that bring us all together. Earlier generations had local functions, get-togethers owing to temples and other festivities. They all lived within a square kilometre radius and had the pleasure of meeting everyone almost every day. But sadly, these days, we seldom look beyond our cubicle in office and beside the television soaps at home. Weddings are an opportunity to meet long lost cousins, relatives whom we had only heard of and friends whom we had met decades ago. It is a gateway to new relationships and a bridge connecting distant relationships. So, when someone says their marriage is a simple register marriage affair with two guests, I cannot help but shake my head in disapproval. Weddings are nerve rackers, brain teasers and emotional drainers, but above all, they nurture wonderful relationships MAD (E) IN HEAVEN…So dear brother, MARRY AND MAKE MERRY!!!