Time: 8 am.
Date: Never mind.
The bride groom is getting ready for the wedding. My amma and her entourage of sisters and cousin sisters, numbering a couple of hundred, are running around making sure that the hundred things that needs to be done in a wedding house is moving like clockwork. I have been told to 1. Freeze 2. Desist from giggling 3. Stop rolling my eyes.
Time: 8:15 am
Date: Who cares!
The Bride Groom (BG) enters the living room wearing his suit pants and the shirt. The phone rings. It is my punju friend from Chandigarh. She is at a wedding near Chandigarh she says. She is eager to know all about an achayan wedding she says. There is a sing song session going on at the venue of the wedding she is attending. She wants to know if we are also having a similar event. I look at the scenery before me and reply. “Yes there is a ballet which is going to start here. It is called Kaikottikali.” Friend is very impressed.
1. The brother in law of the BG takes the jacket and helps the BG into one sleeve smiling at the camera!
2. The sister in law of the BG holds the jacket behind him and helps him into the other sleeve, taking care to smile at the camera!
3. Friend 1 helps him button the jacket, smiling at the camera.
4. Friend 2 ties the tie for the BG, tying and untying till his jaws falls off due to the sheer fatigue of smiling at the camera.
5. A fully suited and booted BG looking like an over powdered handicapped moron who cannot put on a jacket himself is finally left alone…to smile at the camera!
6. I am seen rolling my eyes, by the camera.
My friend is excited. She wants to know what else happens at an achayan wedding. I tell her of the thousand years old ritual that will be performed at the house ….in not so many words. Friend is absolutely amazed. I cringe at the scene.
7. Mommy dearest comes forward and flicks off an imaginary speck of dust from the suit for the camera.
8. Mommy dearest then kisses BG on the forehead or cheek or hand for the camera!
9. Daddy dearest looking uncomfortable in the unusual formal clothes, checks hair and general get up of BG… for the camera.
10. He goes back to his easy chair a much relieved man in front of the camera.
11. Father is hauled up from easy chair and full family poses in front of camera.
12. BG then poses with parents for the camera.
13. BG then poses with parents and siblings for the camera.
14. BG then poses parents and siblings and Priest for the camera.
15. BG then poses parents and siblings and Priest and grandparents if alive for the camera.
16. BG then poses parents and siblings and Priest and grandparents if alive and sundry relatives for the camera.
Friend calls again. She is at the wedding hall she says. She is taking part in a dance competition she says. It is the groom’s family versus the brides. She wants to know if we have a similar tradition. I say “Of course” and suppress an insane urge to laugh like a maniac.
17. The whole group is now praying as a group in front of the camera.
18. Groom then takes blessings from each person present in the room for the camera.
19. Ladies surreptitiously wipe a non existent tear for the camera.
20. BG ceremoniously steps out of the house…in front of the camera.
21. Groom and his entourage wait while Photographer takes several shots of the bedecked car that will carry the BG to the Church…behind the camera.
22. The family stray dog looks on bewildered…away from the camera!
23. BG is photographed smiling from inside/outside/beside/ east west/south east/north east/ top of the car for the camera.
24. Some random male is photographed closing the door of the car for the camera.
25. I can be seen banging my head against the wall, in front of the camera.
Friend calls again. She is going to greet the bride she says. They will dance in front of the bride’s car till the wedding hall she says. What is happening at your place, she inquires. I tell her that I am doing a similar thing …but not in so many words.
26. The groom’s car is photographed leaving for church with a random cow looking on curiously on the road for the camera.
27. Car arrives at the Church after the camera.
28. Smiling and milling relatives are photographed smiling and milling at the camera.
29. BG/Bride enters the church after the camera.
30. People in the church are photographed from 9001 angles by the camera err photographer!
31. Special shots of little children looking sullen in suffocating clothes that make them look like miniature Charlie Chaplin’s, Cinderella’s and or Jokers, Abominable Snowman, Ustad Fateh Ali Khan and Bhappi Lahiri for the camera.
32. The pretty bridesmaids smile at the camera.
33. The pretty bridesmaids smile again at the camera.
34. The pretty bridesmaid smile yet again at the camera till the photographer is hauled away by the collar to resume work with the camera!
35. Uncomfortable looking men feeling uncomfortable in formal shirts look gravely away from the camera.
36. I am seen tearing out my hair in frustration, by the camera.
Friend calls again. She is leaving for the groom’s house she says. They will dance on the road in front of the groom atop a horse till the wedding halls she says. What is happening at your place, she inquires. I describe the scene…but not in so many words.
37. Priests arrive at the Altar giving a damn for the camera.
38. Wedding Mass is celebrated to full glory ignoring the camera!
39. The Mass is over and the group stand for photograph in front of the altar and the camera.
40. Newly married couple poses with parents for the camera.
41. Newly married couple poses with parents and siblings for the camera.
42. Newly married couple poses with parents and siblings and presiding Priests for the camera.
44. Newly married couple poses with parents and siblings and presiding Priests and grandparents if alive for the camera.
45. Newly married couple poses with parents and siblings and presiding Priests and grandparents if alive and sundry for the camera.
46. The newlyweds leave for the reception behind the camera.
47. My mother is seen hauling me up by the scruff of my kurti neck and dragging me kicking and screaming to the reception by the camera.
The wedding in Chandigarh and Moovattupuzha is now over. My friend is now taking part in the vidayee ceremony of the bride. The bride is saying good bye to her parents and parental home amidst much tears and sobbing. Friend wants to know if we have a similar tradition in Kerala. I look at the well stocked bar at the Reception Hall and lie.
48. Reception is a blur for most of us and the camera.
49. Ladies can be seen dragging the men away from the bar in front of the camera.
50. Men can seen going right back to the bar in front of the camera.
51. Ladies can be seen dragging the men away again … in front of the camera.
52. Men can seen going right back again in front of the camera.
53. Everyone is seen laughing and talking and making much noise by the camera.
54. I can be seen pumping my fist in sheer ecstasy that it is over…by the camera.
Friend calls again and tells me about the pall of gloom that has descended on the bridal house after her departure. She wants to know if the bridal home in Moovattupuzha is facing as similar situation! I think of the Picasa Album link with the 4000 photos (upgraded account) that will be sent to me for compulsory viewing and I break down. Friend is sympathetic and understanding but mostly astonished at the similarity of traditions amongst punjus and mallus.