Sunday, November 15, 2009

A tale of two weddings

Time: 8 am.
Place: Moovattupuzha
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
Place: Ditto
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.

35 comments:

RGB said...

Balle, balle...simbly fundastic! Loved reading ur post - A plight that is well plotted....ha, ha!

Parikshith Kumar said...

53. Guests running around with plates in hand from one buffet counter to another, stuffing themselves in preparation for a forecasted famine- sambar spilling from the right side of their mouths and rice grains from the left, stopping mid-morsel and smiling for the camera.

Someday, we can write a post on South Indian weddings together. I tried once, but I couldn't hear myself think over the cackling women and blaring nadaswarams:-)

( Deleted the prev comment to correct myself)

mathew said...

howlarious post!! loved every bit of it!!;-)

"Mommy dearest comes forward and flicks off an imaginary speck of dust from the suit for the camera.
" you are quite a observer!!;-P

scorpiogenius said...

Typical classy Silverine...

Good observations and quite every detail incorporated. :)

The Blue Indian said...

Awesome description of the 'photogenic' Mallu wedding!

I couldn't control my laughter as I went about visualizing the scenes!

Hats off to your patience! Wanna give you a Hi-five for this...in front of the camera!

PS: "37. Wedding Mass is celebrated to full GORY..." er.. am I reading it right? :P

രാജ് said...

truly hilarious

Jim said...

Very accurate description of Mallu Christian weddings! I'm told that the presence of a non-mallu (or, heaven forbid, a foreigner) at these weddings can complicate matters as people fall head over heels to explain the "traditions"... I can imagine one of them even doing it for the camera!

~==[[[ Abhi ]]]==~ said...

Loved the post, especially this one - "Ladies can be seen dragging the men away from the bar in front of the camera"

Chumma show alle! Just so that they can say "I don't allow him to drink more than 2 :)".

Hilarious as always! Nice to see you take these digs @ mallu weddings ;)

I personally had a tough time in my sister's engagement, now waiting for the wedding :)

The Holy Lama said...

Hilarious. The photo poses description is the best.ROTFL

The Holy Lama said...

And mallu weddings can be something else too. Check this out
http://theholylama.blogspot.com/2009/10/arranged-marriage.html

Destiny's Child said...

I am still laughing silverine! :D
Buppy lahiri and ustad amjad ali...:D....you didn't mention the latest trend of converting lil 2 and 3 year old girls into umraao jaans and chandramukhis with that garb called anaarkali. ;)
Loved it! :)
removing the imaginary speck, acting like a moron who can't wear a jacket, posing posing and posing..I can't decide which of the 52 was the funniest!

anN-series said...

loved ur description of the mal-chris wedding...i recently attended a panju wedding and came back with full respect for our 'during-the-day-to-the-point-one-hour-mass-rest-time-at-bar counter-with-bride-not-wearing-a-40kilo-dress-where-she-can-barely-walk' wedding!!!....

anishthomas said...

hummm u beware.....some one will be blogging about your wedding too buhahahaha

Ladies surreptitiously wipe a non existent tear... ...where else in this universe, we can see such a classic emotional scene
yeahh we have too much photography sessions, from dressing up for wedding to leaving the bridegrrom to moneyaraa :) .....never thought about this b4 ......hmmm after sometime i will also be a victim...sighhhhh
nyways achayan's type is far better than punju's bollywood kinda wedding

Nona said...

Looks like you had a rollicking time in Moovattupuzha! :)

Cameras are the most important part of any marriage! But it does make the BG look like a moron who cannot even dress. Amen! he he he. :)

The first experience in helping the BG (on camera) was a distant cousin's weddding in Alappuzha. I have never gone back to that place to check out how the picture turned out! Introspecting, it was a terrible performance from my part. Of course, I am a better actor now! :)

I think the Punju tradition is "bidaai" and not "vidayee". Guess it is the malayali dormant inside you who wrote that word. :D

Anonymous said...

Wow!! u've really got it right. Right down to the imaginary speck on the suit. And absolutely loved the description of those hapless kids in Charlie Chaplin’s, Jokers, Abominable Snowman, Ustad Fateh Ali outfits (perfect for an afternoon @ 35 deg C and 98 % humidity!). And they think we dont celebrate Halloween ;-). Nowadays, for those who are not satisfied with the 4000 snaps, they even hav a kinda music video shoot where the newly weds are taken to some green/wooded/photogenic area and made to pose with several props which include a straw hat,flowers, bicycle and such. The process is complete when everyone involved gets a Wedding video CD which starts with a sunrise,pecking birds and flowers and the events in sequence set to background music which reminds the BG of the Shakeela movies of his bachelor days. Anyway strangely enuff I met a Punju frnd who attended a Mallu Xian wedding recently and felt that our simple function was better than several days of ceremonies,blowing up lakhs and seeing fat aunties dancin the bhangra thru the night - flaa sh

Aniket said...

Its the same all across the country.
My bro is soon going to have a big fat gujju wedding.

I don't understand. They break the grooms spinal chord by forcing him to bow to random relatives he's meeting for the first time. He might be bowing to the colony's plumber for all he knows. (No disrespect meant to plumbers, they do a commendable job).

Then those random people eat and merry while the bride and groom are stranded on the stage staring at the glaring light smiling at the camera, starving.

And there's no "you may kiss the bride" as a compensation.

I want an altar wedding. Kiss the bride and take her away. That's the way (ahan ahan), I like it (ahan, ahaan)!

Deepak said...

What a nice wedding i say... Hilarious stuff happens behind the camera... :) Neat post...

Anonymous said...

priceless!

MGB said...

So what kinda marriage you'll have? You vouch for the mallu one?

don't tell me that u'll have register marriage. if you have a traditional wedding, which one will be your choice? :)

Phantom said...

I was going thru your older posts (severe boredom at work !!!!) and came across one about your brush with the whole North-south indian issue. Thought I’d pen down some pent up thoughts :). I couldn’t find that old post again…so have just out this one in your current post (lazy me).

I’m a kannadiga, who has spent most of my life while in India (age 0 to 15) up north. I’ve lived overseas for the past 12 years (UK, NZ and Aus). A vast majority of my Indian friends are from up north (mostly Punjabis and from delhi, UP), bbay (maharashtrians, gujjus, sindhis). If I have few friends from south india, its only because I have not met many south Indians where I live (the Indian diaspora in Aussie is mostly from north, and increasingly now….lots of telugus).

I am constantly AMAZED at the HUGE degree of ethno-centric chauvinist attitudes displayed by people from the north. It is also true that folks from south poke fun at the nothies…however the nature of that is more along the lines of harmless stereotyping, such as northies being relatively un-cultured, or speaking English with an accent etc. It is not different from the stereotyping of other communities…such as gujjus/marvaris being stingy etc.

However the downtrodding of the southies includes not just generic stereotyping (which should really be taken in good humour)…but there is a distinct vein of chauvinist, arrogant and superiority complex at hand when the southies are made fun of. Commenting on behaviorial eccentricities (e.g. stinginess, talking loudly, being agricultural etc) is ONE thing…but to pass subjective judgement on entire communities, on basis of being darker skinned, speaking languages that belong to a different linguistic family, eating different types of food etc…this is no longer gentle and good humoured poking of fun…its well in the territory of disrespect, chauvism and cultural bullying.

Many a time have I also heard snide comments being passed that south Indians are dark skinned, their food does not have any culinary depth, women are unattractive, men are not manly enough…..their language is funny and primitive….i..e they are inferior in all manners (visually, aesthetically, culturally, culinarily etc) compared to the Aryan northies.

What really gets my goat are two things – the folks from the south don’t actually stand up for themselves when faced with such subjective judgement and criticism. And secondly – much of southern Indian culture has evolved now to a point where it does lend itself to such characterisation.

1] Our weddings tend to be rather boring affairs, with no generic merrymaking as such (dancing, singing). Come to think of it….is there even a south Indian pop culture….like there is bollywood???

2] modern urban south indian culture does not respect darker skinned women and instead glorifies fair skin, which is an absolute shame and massive indictment on south indians as one would think that communities with a majority of women being wheatish to dark skinned would at least take some pride in their innate physical characteristics and not pander behind some external physical trait that is not wholly indigenous to that community. This is a massive inferiority complex, and “wannabeism” which is extremely damaging to the self-esteem of south Indian women who, heaven forbid, happen to be darker skinned.

<< to be continued in another posting...as I have exceeded the num of characters allowed >>

Phantom said...

<< continuation from my prev posting...as I had exceeded the num of characters allowed >>

3] South Indian women, as a group, do not tend to display as much of a penchant for visual attractiveness, in terms of their efforts to stay and appear physically attractive, use suitable clothing, make-up, etc.. While I’m not suggesting that there is any one specific genre of fashion style or parameters that society considers attractive at any given time….there are surely some finite defined boundaries to represent physical attractiveness by society and pop culture at any time??? Why is it that an actress in a kannda, tamil, telugy movie looks like a poor cousin of the bollywood starlet…in terms of fashion sense, style, and basic visual appeal??? Or is it just me???


3] South Indian men, again as a group, seem to have missed the bus on the whole “moustache and paunch not being visually au fait” issue. Contrast a typical south Indian movie hero and his counterpart from the hindi soaps or bollywood movies??

And it is NOT as if folks from down south are inherently any less attractive than folks from other parts of the country. The Bengali girls are typically darker skinned then the other bollywood actresses…and they manage to lock just as appealing, if not more…then the fair skinned variety. So skin colour has NOTHING to do with it…but dress sense, how can carries oneself, fit body type….these things do matter.

4] Food – why on bloody earth do we not see more manglorean, Konkani, malabari, chettinad cusine served in restaurants that clearly advertise themselves as serving INDIAN food??? In countries that have a significant Indian diaspora – UK, USA, Canada, Aus, NZ …..99% of the Indian restaurants serve the same crap – Butter Chucken, Paneer Tikka Masala, Dal Mahni etc. if there is a restaurant serving south Indian food….it is a “speciality” Indian restaurant…and the culinary emphasis is more on dosas, idlis….as if these are the only things worth mentioning and delivering, from the southern indan culinary plate. Even in India….in the metros, in blore even….where the hell are the restaurants that serve decent food from across the southern region. If there are south Indian restaurants..they are at the lower end of the consumer spectrum…as darshinis, kamat joints, udipi joint….or boutique offerings like Coconut Grove on Church Street in B’lore. Why do we not see south Indian food being served in the classy restaurants??? Some to think of it…why do we not see Bengali, or oriya, or gujrathi, or marvari, or sindhi food also being served in Indian restaurants??? It really pisses me off that INDIAN food has become jointly associated with that typical northern Indian Punjabi type cuisine. IMHO…the true variety of southern Indian food…if deployed in its true diversity and depth, can be just as complex, holistic and variant as north Indian food.

I have a theory for the above culinary disappointment – south Indians are just not as materialistic or consumer driven as folks up north. How many south Indians have I met who might be multi-millionaires, but shall dress and talk as if they are middle-class. It might be this same conservatism that has prevented glorification of south Indian culture, cusine and the creation of a buoyant southern Indian pop culture.

Ok..enough of rambling.

phoenix said...

Brilliant!!

Santhosh P said...

Stereotypes well depicted. On a different thought, if not for the camera-shots for the imaginary (and NRI) future viewers, what is there in the wedding? ‘The noble occasion of two bodies becoming one soul’ and cr@p like that? To quote what St.Mark said about Xi’an weddings - “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” – For those biblically illiterate, St.Mark is talking about the camera and wedding here.

Lazith Aziz said...

All for the camera !!! hehehe....
we all fall prey to it alteast once in a lifetime!! I thought you would mention somewhere about the inseparable "borotta and beef olathu " !! :-)
Good one!

Harsha said...

Haha ROFL

Arun said...

Courageous blogger An-Jolie Philip makes great use of work hours writing lengthy posts.

michellekc18 said...

Wow!! This post is so so true.. As a mallu syrian catholic who's done her fair share of dressing up the bride groom and other totally irrelevant things, I detest the official camera and video men. I've been trying to convince my northie friends exactly how boring mallu weddings are but they seem to think I'm being modest. I'l probably forward this link just so they know how "happening" our weddings actually are.

Anonymous said...

Hey..Silverine.

congratulations for getting nominated for 2008 indibloggies awards in Best Personal Indiblog catagory!!!

http://www.indibloggies.org/category/announcements

Arun said...

http://www.indibloggies.org/poll-2008

Beg me to vote for you, An-Jolie

Ezee123 said...

Phew.. so many entries ;-))

Fun Read !

Anonymous said...

http://www.unitedindianschool.com/2009/11/message-from-foreign-born-mallu-pt2.html

silverine said...

RGB: :D Thank you!!

Parikshith: lol! Weddings brings out the best in us!! :p

mathew: Thank you dude. Yes I am quite the observer, have to be after the 567th wedding! :)

Raj: Thank you! :) Nice to see you here!

Scorpiogenuis: Thank you! :)

Blue Indian: Typo, but it describes it better!! :))

Jim: lol!! Very true! I have seen it for a mallu/irish wedding! :)

THL: Thank you! :) Will check out your post for sure!!

Abhi: Have fun at your sisters wedding! :)

Destiny's child: Thanks a lot!! :)

Ann-series: Agree with you. Both are extremes I guess! :)

Nona: You are right 'Vidayee' is Hindi while 'bidayee' is punjabi!:)

Anish: Believe me, we mallus are catching up. I recently attended a punju style mallu wedding! Sigh!

Naveen: I guess grass is greener...! :) Nice to see you after a long time! :)

Aniket: lol!! You go man! And 'Just Do It' the way you wanna do it on your special day!! :)

Deepak: Thank you! :)

Anon: Thanks! :)

MGB: No idea dude. My marriage is not mine to decide, it is my moms territory! brr

Phantom: Wow! That was a really interesting read! Thanks a lot. Enjoyed going thru it! :)

Phoenix: Thank gal! :)

lazith: Yes, how can I forget that!! :p

Harsha: Thank you dear! :)

Arun 1: You do make a lotta assumptions! :|

Michelle: "Boring" is the word! Sigh!

Anon: Just got to know...after everyone! And thanks! :)

Ezee: I have been kind. There are more :|

Arun 2: Yeah sure! In your dreams! :p

Anon: Spot on analysis!

akshaya said...

omg! yu're amazing! loved ech bit of it...

Karen said...

That is the most detailed description I have ever seen.

Anonymous said...

I laughed out loud after a long time.....