The last 16-17 months have been the first time since 1996 that my parents and I have lived together in Chennai(Bombay – ’96-’03 and ’03-’09 I was in a different city/country). And coupled with that, myself and college friends slowly inching towards(or are already) what everyone we know perceives as “marriageable” age. And that can only mean one thing – attend a hell lot of weddings. In fact I’ve realized that there is really nothing called “wedding season”. It seems to run throughout the year nonstop.
Indian weddings have always been about a lot of noise. If it’s more of ritualistic cacophony down south, it’s music and dance up north. More often than not. While the Nadhaswaram /Melam helps a lot in this case, the noise gets accentuated by itself depending on the crowd density and this in turn depends on the families involved. And when everything comes together, forget your NRI friends on the phone asking you for wedding details, you can’t even hear that NRI friend’s husband sitting right next to you. But fortunately, that was not the case in the recent wedding I attended and that was mainly due to the fairly moderate crowd in attendance. Thanks to which, we also got to listen to a beautiful saxophone fused with the Nadhaswaram that made for a quite a serene noise less Tambrahm wedding. This is always cue for your parents to tell you,”Remember this idea during your wedding”.
For weddings where you do nothing more than sit down in one corner, small talk if you are lucky enough to find company and then proceed for the food, there is always bird watching to do. Beautiful people dressed in designer clothes. Ordinary people made to look beautiful with all the clothes and decking up. And if you end up tracking the relationships that begin at someone’s wedding ending in marriage, you’ll mostly continue tracking well into the past. It’s recursion at its best, somewhat in the reverse direction. And if you’re more than usually interested in clothes, you have more things to watch out for. In which case, my mom sets the peak by tracking similarities in blouse stitching and how one city follows a similar pattern while another has its own. We realized much later that those NRI friends hunting for wedding details should have actually spoken to my mom.
In Chennai though, I’ve seen quite some strange adulteration of traditions mostly serving as a reason to celebrate more. Now the whole “Mapillai Azhaippu”, band etc. have been done away with. It’s of late substituted with Mehndi and Sangeet where legs move quickly and alcohol flows freely. Last weekend, there were two weddings with Dandiya as part of the events on the eve of the wedding. I am wondering if Falguni Pathak would begin to have a niche market down south in the coming years. These gatherings can be fun but like a stock broker, you need to know when to quit. The parties run well into the night and by about 2 or 3 AM, you’ll witness(if you are sober) the family members getting cocky and twenty year old issues coming to light. Trust me, you don’t want to be there. That’s your warning bell to leave. But if you’re drunk it’s not going to make one bit difference to you just as it doesn’t for them. Well, as long as everybody’s having fun, no one’s complaining.
In all this reverse larceny orgasm, the least involved people are the two beings getting married. Some of them don’t even care. Most of them, given a choice would go for a quiet non-celebratory event. I recently met a blog/online friend who returned from US and was telling me about how she doesn’t really want these elaborate get togethers and would rather opt for a simple ceremony. She asked me, “Why is an engagement necessary? Why serve food to the same set of people five times in less than a year?” Very valid question, no? But then there are no rights and wrongs here. It just comes down to the choice of making it a quiet happy day or a boisterously joyous one.