Everyone enjoys Most people enjoy Ok trying to be honest AND politically correct, weddings can often be fun, especially if its someone close getting hitched. But dont worry, this post is not about the choke-on-your-butterchicken/roshogolla/idli <insert appropriate blatantly stereotype food item> emotions surrounding the big day. If you are the kind who takes offense at irreverent jibes at customs, religion/caste/race comparisons and suchlike, I suggest you stop reading right now and hop right back into your well. The rest, forge bravely ahead while I go on to describe my take on the few (4 to be exact) different kinds of wedding ceremonies I have witnessed at close quarters.
First up, the (Big Fat) Bengali Wedding. Having been through one myself, this could stretch into an entire post (much like the waistlines of the boudis in all their finery). So I will try to keep it short, and simply point out that this ceremony is not for the faint-hearted. The real heroes on this day (apart from the caterer of course) are the (un)lucky brothers who have to carry a 50 kg wriggly bride around 7 times and then hold onto her for another 30 odd minutes while the mala bodol etc are completed – suspended in air! There is also the minor matter of the topor – basically a conical shaped…err…hat which the groom has to wear to signify his undying loyalty and lifelong devotion. Ok I just made that up, but surely the wearing of that dunce cap is the litmus test of how much of flak he is ready to take on for you later in life? Of course since weddings for the most part are about the food, you probably enjoy the shindig since painstaking attention is given to the culinary aspect of the whole matter, which is taken even more seriously than the marriage itself.
To swing between two extremes as far as cuisine is concerned, we have the Tamil wedding. What variety is lacking in the gastronomy department is compensated in the array of clothing. A single ceremony sees the bride rushing through not less than 4 sarees – and that too tied in a specific way each time! Flashback to the obstacle races in school where each hurdle was a new and different one. Needless to say it is total fun for the audience. One of the best parts about this wedding is the bit where both the bride and groom are made to sit in a decorated swing, almost oblivious to the various rituals in full force around them (including one involving throwing of ghee laddoos onto expensive kanjeevarams), seeming to enjoy themselves thoroughly.
Next up is the Christian wedding, which people are quite familiar with courtesy Hollywood. Having had what I now consider to be a rare opportunity of being a ‘flower girl’ in a church wedding as a kid, I actually remember being quite overawed by it all. White is usually not a colour we Indians associate with celebration, but white here takes on a different kind of hue. As an adult I have always wondered what would happen if someone actually ‘spoke up’ when asked by the priest if anyone has an objection to the marriage, but (thankfully) such perverse wishes havent been fulfilled yet! While being quite beautiful, a ceremony that is greeted by hushed whispers and respectful silence can be a bit unnerving to one hardened by battle cries, cacophony and general chaos during weddings.
Last and definitely not the least (in fact the ‘most’ in many ways) is the Punjabi
extravaganza booze party wedding. Expect the groom’s uncle to be happily drunk, the bride’s sisters/friends to have rehearsed a dance performance for the better part of the year that would put MJ to shame, vegetarian food, rose petals – and lots of bling! I can safely declare this is one of the most fun weddings to attend – you cant help getting swept into the celebrations and joining in to shake a leg. I was very impressed by the actual rituals of the ceremony, with the priest giving a set of very practical instructions to the bride and groom as part of the ‘mantra‘. These include, among other things, a warning to the groom to care for his wife but at the same time not to neglect his parents, and a dictum to the wife to inform her husband when she plans a night out on town. There were others which I’m forgetting, but what I liked was there were equal instructions for both parties, a welcome change from the usual chauvinism. Yes, in a Punjabi wedding. No, the irony did not escape me.
It will be remiss if I end this without a mention of the marwari wedding which sometimes have the bride and groom balanced on a rotating pedestal (I kid you not!) while being sprayed by rose petals and whatnot. The wonder of it all is they smile through it all, keep perfect balance and exchange garlands at the same time. Multitasking just got a whole new definition.
And of course there are the ‘cocktail’ weddings (no its not the same as the Punjabi one) where a cross-cultural mix of ceremonies ensure the best of both worlds, and everyone goes home happy.
Next up on my list is a Maharashtrian wedding which will be edited to this post as soon as a dear friend of mine obliges by doing the honours ;)