Friday, July 22, 2005

Bride Seeing Part I

Bride Seeing or Pennu Kaanal as it is popularly known in Kerala is not unique to our state though the Kerala version is very unique. The Pennu Kaanal Ceremony (PKC) is a solemn ritual wherein a prospective bridegroom goes to the prospective brides home to give her a look see. On a predetermined date and time after much consultation with the TV guide in Malayala Manorama the prospective bridegroom (PBG) sets out with close family members to see the prospective bride (PB). Much dusting of Cuticura Talc precedes the PKC and the whiff of its fragrance due excess use is the first sign to the villagers that there is a wedding in the air. The happy villagers rejoice!! A typical Syrian Catholic wedding lunch leads to much mirth and unnecessary laughter. Of course the more ‘kallu’ ( toddy or liqor) is served more the unnecessary laughter. I haven’t worked out the exact ratio though.

The scent of a wedding in the air also serves as a wake up call for Mallu mothers of unwed daughters across the length and breadth of the earth to start preparations to showcase their respective daughters. It is at this precise time that the collective groans of unwed mallu girls rant the air leading to the local legend of the “Yakshi’ a kind of a Mallu Banshee. For long it was thought that the ‘Yakshi’ was a female spirit wandering the coconut groves and backwaters. However recent research by Kerala State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) has revealed that the ‘Yakshi’ wailings were actually the moans of mallu gals in their twenties with well-paid jobs, articulate, independent and unwilling to take on the additional job of glorified housekeepers. Of course the KSPCB is also probing the local legend of “Maveli” who was actually a gatecrasher at wedding receptions! After much gate crashing he declared one day that this was indeed “Gods Own Country’ because of the numerous wedding feasts and merry making that he mistook for heavenly revelry.

Anyways to come back to the narrative, there is much anticipation in the prospective bride’s home as she is gently teased about her impending marriage and flight to US if Boby likes her, and to Europe if Thomas approves of her, Dubai if Johnson likes her , and Delhi if Capt. Mathew fancies her , and to Pathanamthitta if Kuriachan is smitten by charms etc. etc. The list is endless to the places a Kerala bride can go.

The prospective Bridegroom is now on his way to see the prospective bride sandwiched between Ammachi, Achchachan, Mathaiachchan, Susan Aunty and Jinu, Minu, Shinu and Renji. The ‘marriage broker’ a quaint sub species of Homosapiens much won’t to merrymaking and bill making also squeezes in to show the way.

The Cuticura Talc has one draw back, it cakes due to the humid weather in Kerala and therefore has to be dusted and re-dusted driving up sales and much merrymaking in the Cuticura marketing offices at Kochi, Thrissur, Thiruvananthapuram.etc. Which drives up the sales of Brandy which drives up the sales of duck fry and so on. It would be a vicious circle but for the brandy and duck fry. And the merrymaking continues and fuels the legend of ‘Gods Own Country”.

Much before the prospective groom leaves his house, the price of coconut oil, diesel taxi’s, Kissan Squash, jaggery, ducks, pork, beef and Cuticura goes up considerably. Leading to much merry making in marketing offices of …well you get the idea by now I guess.

The prospective bridegroom sets out of his house after his mom has recited three ‘Hail Mary’s, one ‘Our father’ and thirty two curses because Renji spilled chicken stew on his pants.

The culinary preparation in the prospective bride’s home for the PKC usually commences one-month before the prospective bridegroom father hires the Ambassador taxi. Some of the traditional items that are prepared to entice the bridegroom’s mother are:

· Vattayappam (a steamed dish sweetened with jaggery)
· Achchapam (rose cookies as they are known in Bangalore)
· Jackfruit Chips
· Banana Chips.
· Black Halwa
· Assorted Biscuits
· Tea
· Coffee
· Orange or Pineapple Squash

Of course the fact that the prospective bridegroom prefers Tandoori Chicken and Honeybee Brandy doesn’t matter at all. It is always his mommy dearest who has to be pleased. We celebrate ‘Mother’s Day” every Pennu Kaanal day in Kerala. (Excuse me while I wipe a tear).

The PBG arrives in good shape from his journey at the prospective brides “Tharavaad” (ancestral home, so called because the ancestors built it before the Wright brothers could say “ma look at that bird”)

The bridegroom’s entourage alights from the taxi and is met in person by the prospective father-in-law who immediately ushers in the guests and seats them on the shiny new rexine sofa set specially bought for the occasion. The buying of the rexine sofa signals the fact that his darling daughter is all grown up and he surreptitiously wipes his eyes. He has just been to the bank and his bank balance made him shed tears too.

I shall not dwell upon the merrymaking in the marketing offices of Alapatt Jewellers, Jayashree Silks, Cuticura Talc etc. after the bridal shopping spree by the prospective bride’s parents. But I have heard that the revelry could be heard far and wide leading to widespread panic and tensions on the Indo Pak border. Well…. a Mallu drunken revelry is often mistook for a Joint Indian Military exercise in full swing.

This informative narrative would be incomplete without giving due mention to the Kerala’s own native detective service; This service is usually used for ‘pre marital information gathering’ ( or snooping in simple English). Nothing evades the eagle eyes of the native detective service. Information gathering, storing, embellishing and spreading are part of its large menu of services. The marriage broker, numerous relatives and friendly and helpful neighbors staff the detective service. Of course friendly neighbors are the most forthcoming when divulging information that even the snooped upon families did not know existed. And it is to this agency that the families of PPG and PB’s turn to in their hour of need. They deliver fast and reliably too. Though the claims of their reliability are quite unreliable I hear.

( to be continued in next post)

34 comments:

hope and love said...

ha.! ha! ha!that was fantastic..!! u r adorable..!
;))waiting eagerly for part II..

zimblymallu said...

don't tell me you've had to endure these things. yeah, what is up with mallus and powder? the rest of the world puts powder on babies' butts, just before they put a diaper on.
ahh nostalgia... i remember kissan squash and achappam and chaka upperi and halwa. thank you.

Lazith Aziz said...

hehehahaha ...that was true mallu stuff ...mouthwatering list ...achappam..missing all those here..do post more interesting stuff in Part III :-))

Jake said...

God's own, where the banshees are, donned in baby butt powder
:-))

silverine said...

@hopeandlove: Thanks :)Part will be hitting the monitors soon.
@zimblymallu:Well dunno about the rest of the world but we southies love our talcum powder.Nostalgia yeah? That's all we offshore mallus are left with.
@lazith aziz:what to do we are like this only :))
@jake:well...i dunno if the banshees use baby butt powder.Cuticura is the state favorite tho:))

Adarsh A. Varghese said...

I am eagerly waiting for Part II in which the saree clad bride in a style that is designed to show what she's got up there comes in a slow cat walk clutching a tray, puts up a show of blushing while handing over the contents of the tray to the bridegroom, and then backs and walk swaying her hips in perfecr rythem!

Jithu said...

good one!! :-) samayam aayo ennoru thonnal.. alla achappam okke thinnanne ;-))

George said...

awesome. thanks for making my day with this wonderful bit of nostalgia. damn!! where can i find some rose cookies now ...?

Geo said...

Hats off ma’am!!!
Should I say Sarcasm at its best?

Zimbly sooper…
Aaactulllly yuwar diskription about the bride see-yal is phantastic-u and komplete-u. Are you purplefully trying to pass jokes about people around you, huh?… ;_)

crossblade said...

oh God..
you are awesome...
I've seen this personally when my cuzins got married or a PKC..
It really cracks me up

scorpigle said...

waiting eagerly for part II.. make it come fast.

Lost in trance... said...

....the amazing part is it still works !!!....and there are many PBGs/PBs who are content with the whole PKC circus....its still a marriage between families and not just between two people...which has got to change for all the rants to stop...but then it could really be a step towards the much scarier picture here...the last thing i wanna see back home are hoardings/shop boards which read "drive thru wedding"', "discount divorce" and stuff...just two ways to look @ it really....

tcr_79 said...

Well written...

Different angles have been brought out really nicely - absorbing read.

Hope the tempo and enthusiasm is sustained in the next part

Parna said...

excellant! :)
do continue.

injinuity said...

there is another perspective to all this.. my elder cousin sister, she just had to go through the same thing.. I was just chatting with her and I could not fathom why someone of her intellect and ability would let herself be put out on the shelf like that for guys to come and choose.... but her answer made me think as well as make me laugh... she opines that the family has gone to great troubles to make sure that there are no surprises behind the guy and also if something does happen in the future she can always go running back to her father crying and as she says, "can also kick dadda for his mistake"

Jiby said...

superb...thats all i can say...there is humor...lessons in culture...typical characters at a pennukaanal scene...pokes at society...everything in this post. had a nice laugh! never stop writing...it will be a big loss to all your readers.goes without saying part-2 is eagerly awaited!

M a D a N said...

For the Love of Cuticura...Send this to Cuticura mktg office-they badly need this great advert. Part-II ...waiting to see the impact of gold sales at Kuruvithadam Jewellers, Kottappadi, on the London Bullion and Gold Markets.

Praveen said...

You have intricately captured each detail of the pennu kaanal chandangu :)

>|' ; '| said...

jesus h christ... u r funny :D

J said...

Nice blog :D
Will drop by more often.

The Arbit Council said...

ho ho awesome!!

i went to an engagement recelty (north indian) and boy there's loads to write abt those too!

super write..waitin for part 2!

Dr. Pissed said...

Just when I thought that I'd had enough of mall's, you take me right back to the heart of it all and I am enjoying this throughly!

Maya Cassis said...

oh yeah..i know what u mean

Praveen said...

heyy silverinee....tht was pure mallu ism oozing all over....u have covered all those little details which misses all of our eyess....waiting 4 succhhhhh smallll smallllllll details in part 2 tooo...he hee

silverine said...

Praveen: Thank you. Click on July 2005 in the archives for the part 2 :)

Indian Home Maker said...

LOL, this is simbly hiariouz!!!!Loved it...with changes in talcum powder brands, and the 'sweetmeats' served, it's the same story all over India. Beautifully written.

shail said...

Girl, you simply rock!! This is so hilarious I am laughing my head off. Joint Indian Military exercise indeed!! Hahahaha!!

shail said...

Anjali, I have linked these Bride Seeing posts of yours in my latest blog. I hope its ok with you. If not do tell me.

Usha Pisharody said...

i :) My first time here.. and well, it's a sheer laughter riot you've served! Lol!
I know I know, only too well, being a resident of the same native land, :D!!!

Let me move on to the next one now:) A zillion thanks to Shail, for the link :)

Ritu said...

Simply awesome!!! Came here via Shail ...... moving to the next edition

Vinod Asokan said...

Fantastic writeup. Enjoyed reading it, especially the descriptions of Kerala delicacy like achappam and all..

girlsguidetosurvival said...

Oh the Cuticura Talc reminds DG of her school days. Goog job. Aren't we desis wonderful.
Peace,
Desi Girl

Ashwathy said...

HAHAHAHAH Truly loved it!!! Soooo true! :D

RINZU RAJAN said...

Wow.! I am saddened that I dint discover your blog earlier.! A blog wit hall the malayalee flavor.! A good discovery for me.!