Yesterday was Wedding Number One in our itinerary, after Engagement Number One in Ernakulam. We reached Muvatupuzha around mid morning after the hero of my last post, my Uncle had said a tearful goodbye to us. He had just got the bill for the PC you see.
In a gesture of rare honor that bought a tear to my eye, Jojo sent me the first ever invitation to Yahoo Chat from his new PC which I accepted from my Laptop. Such a good boy.
There was a crisis brewing in the wedding house. The groom-to-be (GTB to keep it short) declared that he would not get married until his Godmother, i.e. my Mom arrived.( His godma was minutes away enroute to his house and the wedding a good 24 hours away. Melodrama is part of the mallu wedding). The declaration worried his parents very much. His Dad was heart broken. He had 100 cases of liquor collected for the wedding you see. ( 50 cases for the pre bachelor party, bachelor party, organizing committee meetings and the wedding and 50 cases incase there was an Income tax raid during the wedding.)
His Mom was heart broken too. This was the single most important day in her last child’s life. From the time he took his first baby steps, she had a dream. She dreamt of her son growing up fast into a sturdy young man, so that she took hitch him around some gals neck and fly off to London, Paris and Rhode Island, where her daughters and a son resided. But the ingrate was not showing any signs of leaving the nest. She was sure she would be stuck in Muvattupuzha for the rest of her life.
Fortunately for them, we reached their house five minutes after GTB had made that awful declaration. The scene of Godmother and Godchild meeting were straight out of Hindi movies.
Anyways soon after arrival we were immediately closeted for the “organizing committee meeting”. The wedding was high profile and a lot of volunteers were needed. But then my family is not exactly short of hands when there is booze involved. Soon we had a good crowd of volunteers and their classmates too...(in case the cops tried anything funny.)
Now don’t judge us too harshly. Meetings are thirsty affairs, especially since Kerala is quite hot at this time of the year. And mallu heat is not the sissy kinda heat you get in Chennai.( I am not talking about the Mallu Heat you get on CD’s and thatched Talkies.)
Now, my mom is no Don Vito Corleone, but a regular Godmother. I mean, prior to the baptism (naming ceremony) of the child, a male and female relation is appointed as Godfather and Godmother. Godparents are informally responsible for ensuring that the child's religious education is carried out, and for caring for the child should he/she be orphaned (logically this means that the godparents should be young and able bodied). But in Kerala, hierarchy is followed strictly and the oldest and most wizened, closest-to-the-grave-relative is given the honor. (Never mind the explanation I have given in the previous bracket, we mallus are non-conformists) And the appointment of the Godmother/Godfather causes a lot of heartburn for the parents (and hence the declining birthrate of Kerala).
The naming of the baby is also very complex (and by now very famous). The first name is often left to the parent’s choice but the middle name has to include the Christian name of an elder. Almost all the old people and their parents want their name included in the baby’s name. And no matter how many people you accommodate there will always be ill will. So the GTB’s parent took the short cut and included every aged relatives name they could muster. Legend has it that by the time they finished the naming ceremony the Priest fell down exhausted and no priest thereafter was willing to preside over any ceremony involving GTB.
The GTB was named Nitin ( first name) Joseph, Alexander, Philip, Isaac, Francis, Maradona (Dad is a huge fan and insisted), Ajith Wadekar ( mom is a great fan) Kurian, Geevarghese Thomas. J for short. (The priest presiding over his wedding was specially bought in from another district.)
Everything went fine till the Priest started the Nuptial ceremony (the actual wedding ritual).
Priest: Do you Nithin Joseph, Alexander, Philip, Isaac, Francis, Maradona, Ajith Wadekar, Kurian, Geevarghese Thomas take Shiny Marie, Sarah, Elizabeth Mary to be your lawfully wedded wife?
BTB: I do.
Priest: Do you Shiny Marie, Sarah, Elizabeth Mary take Nithin Joseph, Alexander, Philip, Isaac, Francis, Maradona, Ajith Wadekar, Kurian, Geevarghese Thomas to be your lawfully wedded husband.
Bride: Who?????? Er... I mean “I do”.
Priest ( panting): May I have some water please ?
The sermon given by the priest afterwards was rousing and he spoke at length about naming children. (He was also overheard instructing his assistant to make a thorough check on bride and bridegroom's full names before he accepted any further Wedding Mass requests.)
Yours truly was in-charge of decorating the Church and the Reception area with a bunch of volunteers below the drinking age. The famous mallu heat was countered by this ‘committee’ with Naranga Vellam (Lemon Juice) and Ice Cream.
The reception at the grooms home was a grand success. ( basically it means that there were no males left who was sober).
p.s Just read somewhere that since Malayalam has a very komblex phonetic system that makes it difficult for outsiders to understand, it was used for wireless communications in the Indo-Pakistan border. ( Never mind if Subedar Jarnail Singh, Lance Naik Kelkar, Havildaar Pranab Mukherjee and Sepoy Naik, were at the receiving end. The enemy couldn’t decipher it… and that is what matters.)