A Wedding in Chennai

Exchange of Garlands

Marriages are made in Heaven, as they say. But thank God, they are celebrated on Earth! Celebrating a marriage may be a pleasant task but it is still a complex task where several factors are NOT in anyone’s control… But If one is looking for excitement and surprises in life , a wedding celebration offers immense possibilities. In the event the surprises turn out to be pleasant ones, then one is evidently lucky. The recent celebration of the wedding of our daughter threw up such surprises and I will try to capture some of them in this post.

The biggest surprise of all surprises is that the wedding passed off without a single controversy! In fact we received an undeserving compliment for celebrating the wedding in an exemplary manner. The compliment is ‘undeserving’ on two counts: firstly I am sure the celebrations were far from perfect. (My idea of a perfect, ideal and exemplary celebration is somewhat different). Secondly quite a few relatives from both sides contributed to its reasonable success.

Let me begin at the beginning. When we left Mumbai for Chennai to celebrate the wedding , Mumbai resembled a lovely hill resort with the onset of monsoon. Green looked greener and rose looked rosier. Nearby hills and hillocks presented a great sight with enticing natural water falls accompanied by a constant roar. A cloud cover enveloped the entire city as cool & moist breezes swept across, completely replacing the hot winds of summer. Needless to say, we left Mumbai with great reluctance.
As we landed in Chennai on 13th June , Chennai was sizzling hot with temperatures close to 40 deg.C or more. The high humidity only added to the agony. I was really worried as to how we were going to cope with the heat, considering that we needed to run around for more than 2 weeks in unfamiliar neighborhoods.
We occupied our Service apartment in T.Nagar which was reasonably well furnished.The place is an old heritage home with high roofs and large interconnecting rooms. Every room was provided with several windows and doors. For instance, the living room had 6 doors – one connecting the corridor at the entrance , the second one leading into a bed room , the third one into dining area, the fourth into the kitchen , the 5th & 6th leading into another bed room and a balcony respectively. The windows were as many in number. It took us quite a while to understand the geography of the entire house! Besides space which is huge, everything else was in abundance in the house – the dust, the heat, the automobile pollution and the accompanying noise generated by indiscriminately honking vehicles. It was in complete contrast to our Mumbai residence! In spite of my worst fears, though, we managed our stay without any major problems as if to prove Darwin right on his theory of ‘Survival of the fittest’! I must hasten to add, though, that the place was reasonably well equipped with a running kitchen, refrigerator and an air conditioner in one bed room where all of us slept every night.

Coming to the main events of wedding, there were quite a few surprises. While KAASI YAATRAI & OONJAL went off as non-events, MAALAI MAATHARADU (or EXCHANGE OF GARLANDS) provided great entertainment to everyone around. The most unexpected twist to the event was provided by a cousin of our daughter, who all of a sudden lifted the bride out of the ground to a good height giving her an unfair advantage over the groom. The groom had to strain and stretch himself to reach up to the bride’s height to garland her. This used to be a good old practice of the ancient times, when the brides were infants and had to be physically lifted for garlanding the groom. A brief revival of this old practice certainly did provide a great excitement to the proceedings.

Events leading up to MUHURTHAM are generally known to be hectic wherein the priests are known to call the shots commanding & hurrying up everyone including the bride. However, this wedding was different in this respect as everyone including the priests went about their jobs at a very leisurely pace. The bride seemed to have all the time in the world for changing into a special nine yard saree meant for the Muhurtham.

This wedding also witnessed yet another vanishing practice – that is PHALA DAANAM which is normally done after the MUHURTHAM. The newly wedded couple would individually offer their PRANAAMS(with ‘vethala paakku’) to all elderly couples in the hall and seek their blessings. Revival of this practice was welcomed and appreciated by old timers from both sides.

The wedding day evening saw the customary function of NELANGU combined with an unconventional KORAOKE performance from a bunch of energetic teen agers. Participation in these events was almost complete & spontaneous as several young and old sang and danced with gusto. This function helped everyone to unwind after two big hectic days.

The rest of the events of the wedding went like a usual formula movie. KATCHERI during reception was virtually submerged in the background noise, as it generally happens when music concerts are organized as part of marriage celebrations. The musician did her best to engage her listeners and there were quite a few who enjoyed the concert. I personally feel concerts have no place in a noisy environment like wedding. I am a conservative person when it comes to appreciating music. The ambience for KATCHERI is as important as music itself and there is no way we can provide the right ambience during marriage celebrations.

Attendance for all events was as per expectations. There was some excitement as we witnessed two or three celebrities among the guests – K.Balachander, Anuradha Sriram and the well known musicologist Sri ‘SRJ sir’ as he is fondly referred to by his disciples and music lovers.

Last but not the least, everyone seemed happy with the consistently good quality of food served by the caterers.

Reception in Mumbai went as per script except for some uncertainty before the event. Heavy rains, Bomb blasts and traffic jams added to the tension, excitement and uncertainty.

Published in: on July 23, 2011 at 4:24 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. A good rundown on the wedding Athimber! We really missed the occasion. Especially as it had turned out to be a one-of-a-kind Iyengar wedding with no controversies! 🙂 How often does that happen right!

    • Yes , indeed. We too missed both of you.

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