Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Wedding

I love the mehendi. This is the bride, by the way. Decorating hands and legs with henna is not a South Indian custom like it is in the North, but all the brides wear them anyways. My cousin was glowing that day, and not just because she had got a golden facial (whatever that means!) done. She looked simple and more beautiful because of that.

This is the bride's hair, all decked up with flowers and jewellery. Because hardly anyone keeps their hair long these days, false hair is tied on and decorated all the way with flowers. The room where her make up was done was very badly lit and the picture did not come out very well.

The mantap. It was a very simple one that further highlighted the beauty of the entire ceremony. The board spells out the names of the couple.

Most weddings today have the latest numbers from Bollywood movies blaring out of loudspeakers. In others, even that is missing, replaced by the cacophony of a thousand voices, all talking and none listening. In a select few, a troupe of traditional musicians like the above are hired to play. I must say they did play tunes of old Kannada film songs once in a while but on the whole, it was good music. When the groom finally garlands the bride and the marriage actually happens, something called the "Gattimela" is played. This is when the couple become man and wife.

A really bad picture, too much light. Now after the actual wedding, what follows is a series of rituals that I did not care to try and understand. The priest officiates the ceremony, assisted by others, in the presence of the couple's parents and everyone else who care to sit around the mantap. I have never sat anywhere close so I cannot tell you what the rituals are.

Feasting! Every wedding, in fact, every Brahmin function is an excuse to feast. Brahmins love to eat and sweet dishes are a special favourite. Functions such as weddings need a lot of preparations, food-wise. You see above the kitchen with the huge huge vessels and the cooks. As far as I know, there are no women cooks for such functions.
As kids, we would have great fun at these places. We would steal bits of food, the dough of `holige', a sweet dish (the dough is yummy too!) and other snacks. And then we grew up. Now we have all become boring in the process of maintaining decorum. :-(

After the wedding and hours of rituals, after the feasting and after everything else (Ahem!), the next day is the 'grha-pravesha', when the bride's in-laws take her into their home formally. The wedding is held at the girl's place or at a place of mutual convenience. If the groom's house is far away, this puja might take place after a couple of days. In my cousin's case, her husband's house was close by.
The 'grha-pravesha' is again a series of rituals that I did not understand. Actually, I was too busy talking to my uncle and my cousin to bother. From what I understand, this is where the in-laws accept the girl as a daughter of the house.

The 'kanyadaana' takes place here. What strikes me as really bad is that the mother who bears the child and looks after her for all those years has no part in giving away the girl. That part of the entire ceremony is really sad.
By the way, what you see above is a `kalasha', an arrangement of coconut, rice, betel leaves, etc that is used for many rituals. It has some significance. I will write about it if I ever find out. :-)

A very bad picture. These are little pitchers filled with `paneer' or fragrant water. This is sprinkled on the heads of the bride's party by the groom's family to welcome them. Kids in the family are usually given this task. I did it, and must tell you, it is great fun. In the plate is 'tambula', an arrangement of betel nuts and leaves.

Again, the rituals around the holy fire. There is my little cousin and her husband. The priests are officiating the puja and in front is a 'rangoli', an intricate drawing to bring good luck and ward off the evil eye.

The rituals, though I do not understand most of them, are beautiful nevertheless. The rhythmic chantings from the Vedas are soothing and makes me proud to be a part of this over 5,000 year old tradition.

The bride smiles. Her entire happiness reflects in her eyes. I know then that she will be happy. I know her husband is a nice person. And I couldn't be happier for them.

Here is to their happiness. God bless them.


ShaK said...

Well narrated. A marriage ceremony has always been one of my favorite ones since a) lot of good food and b) lot of peer based fun. I look forward to one such wedding in June when one of my friends gets married. Your words took me into the future as to what to expect.

Nice read and I wish the newly weds all the best.


Shiv said...


A detailed marriage coverage !

Even though few fotos were hazzy, they brought the feel of the ceremony.

Cheers to the newly wed !

Deepa Bhasthi said...

thanks both of you.