Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The big fat Tamil wedding!!

There is no better avenue than a marriage to observe people. It presents a unique forum. People meet each other after a long time, it presents an opportunity to catch up and say “hi”. The manner in which people move around talking to each other in itself provides ample scope for an interested person to study the idiosyncrasies in behavior and marvel at it.

In some castes, there are some practices that are frankly speaking, quite outdated. Events like symbolically requesting the groom not to go to “Kasi” (the groom sets off on a spiritual path from which the relatives-to-be are expected to wean him off) and ‘Nalangu” (in which the bride and the groom are seated opposite each other and engage in playful games in the marriage hall like searching for a coin inside a typical pot!!) are not in tune with the changing face of today’s youth but are nevertheless continued by the families to stay attached to what is deceivingly termed as “tradition”.

Such practices were as some elders remarked meant as ice-breakers in the beginning when people married early, but in today’s age of internet chat and blind dates, appear churlish and ridiculous. In spite of their relevance or irrelevance in the social context, they add to the entertainment aspect.

People off-stage:

By “off-stage”, I mean the people and their behavior whilst they are not exchanging the cursory “two words” with the people under spotlight – the bride and the groom.

It is quite extraordinary a sight with people dressed in their best clothes always appearing to be in some perpetual movement/animated discussion. One isn’t expected to doze off obviously!! Women especially take quite a good amount of time working on their appearance. The best jewels and the best silk saris see the light of the day. Some carry it off with appreciable élan while others appear a little too decked up.

The universal conversation openers, “How are you?” “How is life/work?” are omnipresent. People are not exactly interested in the answers especially when such questions are asked in a forum like the one under discussion here. They are meant purely as a means to move on to greeting the next visible person by way of repeating the same question.

Digressing a little, at times I feel that it is very difficult being beautiful. I run the risk of sounding clichéd here but I take it nevertheless. Beautiful girls are inevitably, proud for we are good at forming images and relating to people from those images. Reality hence eludes us; we see a person who is beautiful and because of that getting exaggerated attention. We see the person carrying that attention gracefully but with some consciousness of that very attention. We jump to the conclusion that the person is showy and proud. Hence, beautiful girls will always be proud!!

At this wedding that has provided me with substantial observation material, I saw her. Her hair was cut short and she was in a kurta and jeans. She was playing with a little child throwing him high into the air and as he came down giggling profusely, she caught him with such grace that the air around seemed to be in awe of her every motion. Her hair was flowing free and she tried to tie it down with a band. It proved useless. She walked towards the nearest mirror, took a close look at herself and her unruly hair, took out a clip, removed the band and put it on. But on second thought, she brought out her glasses out of nowhere and wore them high on the forehead in true filmi style. The last time I saw her, she had the hair band, glasses and a clip. I couldn’t help a little smile.


The bride and the groom are expected to smile continuously for close to 2-3 hours until people stop ascending the little dais to wish them on the new journey that they jointly embark on. The numerous cell phones and digicams don’t help either. At times, the couple looked embarrassed and given a chance would have gladly merged with the rest.

Women adjust their saris and their blouses, men take the comb to their hair for one last time before getting ready for their respective smiles. Children run helter-skelter, some people forget the omnipresent envelopes only to hasten with it soon again. This moment in front of the camera is captured to be recounted later to countless workplace colleagues and scores of relatives.

The food presents a dilemma to most of us. Unable to consume everything that is served, a lot of food gets wasted…In the end, the chairs are cleared away; the bride and the groom look a lot tired. But in groups people are ready to chat away the night and their sleep.

A marriage is still an once-in-a-lifetime affair though some places in India are labeled as divorce capitals. More importantly, they provide the forum for a large number of people to partake in the couple’s joy and wish them a long and happy married life. That means, 100% entertainment is definitely guaranteed!!

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