Monday, December 17, 2007

Wedding wonderings

Had been to a wedding last Friday. It was a mixed Hindu wedding with a Bengali groom and a Tamil bride. So with high expectations of good food, D and I went for the wedding. The auspicious time or muhurat was between 5PM and 7 PM a novelty by itself as it is customary that people get married in the early hours of the day after having a reception the previous evening.

I have always found this puzzling, why have a reception when the couple are yet unwed? Whatever be the reason weddings here are so boring it ends up becoming a chore unless you are actually getting wedded when you have no escape. Here it is a simple meet, greet, eat, beat (it) process where the anxious guests sit on tenterhooks waiting for the usually delayed arrival of the couple. People growing up on a diet of weddings from the Rajshri stable or from the many never- ending “saas bahu” soaps may have different ideas of weddings. But the reality here is harsh. Weddings seem have a big disconnect and very often there is no bonding between the guests and the family. It is often a chore of reciprocity since one would have invited the other earlier. Often gifts are recycled and great care is taken to ensure that the gift will equal in price to what has been gifted earlier by the person inviting. Often loud unsavoury music the kind you would normally see played on the final journeys find place in such weddings.

Coming back to my story this wedding did not deviate from the usual, though the groom looked very interesting in a curious white pointed headgear and the bride looking resplendent in her red sari and with so ornament that kept her face well hidden. The priest fully clothed (a first for me) was having a private discussion with the bridal couple and the crowd having lost track of the proceedings engaged in private gossips. D asked an observer nearby if the actual wedding was over, he replied with a shrug that he was absolutely clueless and it seemed ages since the three got on stage and he was also trying to interpret the goings on. The soft notes of a shenai from a music player added to the mystery. Our Catholic weddings of late (if the wedding rites are in English) tend to dispel the mysteries by printing booklets with the entire script in black and white so that at least people know what is going on. Maybe others can try something like that or at least have a volunteer with cue cards telling us when to smile, clap, bless etc..

Finally we were woken out of our reverie by a sudden noise that sounded like a tribal war cry, we looked up to see the mother of the bride wagging her tongue viciously and making the above mentioned. That was the sign that the wedding was officially over. Then we sat down to await the bridal couple to get onstage after the customary change of clothes. The wait seemed endless and many of the guests ended up handing over the gifts to the mother of the groom and rushed to eat. Many of these guests never returned. Eventually the couple returned to a nearly empty hall. We greeted and made our hasty exit as it was already late. The food was a disappointment as it was neither here nor there (Bengali not Tamil) and tasted equally confusing. The only remote Bengali connection was a dry rosogolla or a look alike.

Weddings are getting more and more ostentatious and more
extravagant but somewhere down the line I believe that
people tend to forget that we meet not to just greet or eat
but to bless the newly weds for the journey ahead.

The situation tends to worsen when there are parties involved where the couple is completely forgotten while the guest have a gala time often drinking and dancing the night away.

They are calling it the people dance

After reading this post you may wonder what I am trying to tell you, if at your next wedding you pause a moment and offer a simple prayer for the newly weds, I am not telling you anything more.

PS: Our evening turned horrific when we realized that 3 out of 4 tyres of my car were deflated by some residents of the street who did not like any visitors parking outside their homes!!!! After a harrowing experience we finally reached home near midnight thanks to TVS service which dispatched mechanics to our aid promptly.


PurpleHeart said...

Indian weddings are always a fun-occassion for the elderly basically because, like u said, they get to meet and chit chat with long-lost pals. If you are forced to accompany one of your parents just because the mother of the bride or groom has attended your first birthday party, it would be a horrfic idea to take up. I mean I remember being seated next to mom, yawning mostly and smiling ridiculously to people who rock my cheeks. The customs I don't think can be shortened 'cause there could be hell lot of myths and reasons behind them. Mine being, an intercommunity wedding too, we thankfully decided to cut out both the customary rituals,So things went pretty quick . NIce post. By the ways, 5PM to 7PM is not early hours of any day, right ?

JollyRoger said...

Generally Purpleheart invites read 5AM to 7 AM when I will still be in bed!

Bubbles of FireWhisky said...

im scared everytime my dad tells me we have to go to a wedding... i hate the extravagence, i hate the waste and i especially hate the fact that people who are not related to the family (people who the bride and the groom have probably never even met) attend just so they can find faults with the arrangements and the food... shudder!!!

i honestly think my plan of eloping and having a reception for family and friends at mc donalds or pizza hut is the best... everyone order what you want... i'll pay the bills... and be done with it!

Still searching said...

So, what you're saying is that it was a good thing that the bride's face was hidden by the ornaments?!!! lol!! just kidding!

I know the war-cry thing... happens in my community too! I used to be very scared of it when I was a kid! heheheh