A Wedding in Chennai

OMG, what a hectic time it was – meeting people, helping make arrangements, endless debates on what to do and what not to do, having fun pulling each other’s leg, eating 3 meals a day for 3 days where each meal is high on calories, the list goes on.. Yes, that was my niece’s wedding in Chennai last week. Completely ignoring the teachings of my disciplined mind on diet, I binged on delicious sweets and savouries on offer. My daughter who was also a partner in the crime reassured me saying that it doesn’t matter what one eats occasionally – what matters is what one eats regularly otherwise.

A Hindu wedding is essentially a Vedic ritual. The rituals beautifully blend all aspects of life to be led by the couple – religious, moral and spiritual. We do see variations in the way of celebrations from region to region due to cultural differences. Marriages are also the time for joyous celebrations with music and dance.

The wedding I attended last week had all the ingredients of a typical Iyengar wedding and a few surprises. The surprise element was reserved for the very last day. All the guests left the hall after the reception leaving behind only the near and the dear along with the just-married couple. That was the time when everyone moved to the dance floor and began dancing with gay abandon! I guess dancing is infectious and we found even the most unlikely dancers give up their inhibitions and started dancing. Everyone enjoyed dancing. I was perhaps the only exception. My major problem with dancing is the very high decibel sound which completely unsettles me. My second reason is that it’s hardly pleasing aesthetically. The steps are hardly synchronized as everyone dances according to his whim.I wish people wanting to dance practice their steps for a few days before the wedding.

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The wedding day started off with Kumara Bhojanam – a ritual where the groom sits with another Brahmachari(bachelor)and eats. The origin or significance of this is not clear. I asked the priest and he had no answer. Someone suggested why not ask the super guru, the Google. Google says Kumara bhojanam is a ritual performed during Upanayanam. It’s supposed to consist of bland food which will help maintain his vow of celibacy during the period of learning scriptures. That logic obviously doesn’t hold good for a young adult to be married. So, my question remains unanswered. If anyone knows, please respond.

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Then we have Kasi Yatra. The groom has two options – either get married or become a Sanyasi. Being an escapist or due to the fear of the unknown, the groom chooses a life of an ascetic dressed like a sanyasi complete with an umbrella and a staff. Now the bride’s father approaches the groom and advises him to choose the path of a grihastha and lures him with his beautiful daughter. Instantly, the groom accepts the offer and the rest of the rituals begin.
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One ritual worth mentioning is the exchange of garlands which is popularly known as Malai Mathardu in tamil. It’s supposed to be done three times signifying complete acceptance and union between the couple. This ritual has its fun part too. The bride pulls away as the groom tries to garland her. In another variation, the groom and the bride are lifted on the shoulders by their respective uncles bringing out spontaneous smiles on everyone’s face. This followed by yet another interesting ritual called Oonjal. The couple would be seated in a beautifully decorated swing which is moved gently to the accompaniment of equally gentle and soothing music sung by musically talented ladies.
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Published in: on February 21, 2016 at 5:20 pm  Comments (1)  
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  1. Amma and I saw all the ceremonies on Vasu’s timeline and now your written account.It is almost like having attended the wedding in person.Amma kept commenting on your striking resemblance to Govindan chittiya!!!Saw harshini and her littl edaughter too as also all the other near and dear ones.Bless Vasu for uploading pictures and videos of various family functions.


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