Gowri kalyaanam vaibogame !

Sri flipped open the pages of her diary, which she updates, quite regularly. Her gaze froze on the date and her lips curled, to reveal a crooked smile – her trademark! It was the 12th of October, on her diary – the day she and Gautham, entered a bond of togetherness, a promise meant to be kept for life. It was the day of a wedding of elaborate elegance, the day they said yes, to each other!

What impressed me was the way Sri narrated the rituals of a typical TamBrahm wedding! It sent visuals all across my mind. I could almost imagine every scene of what she narrated. All what seemed like rituals to me, made sense. It made absolute sense, as each portion seemed to strengthen the bond, they already had, for each other!

They got married, the typical Tamil Brahmin way. The wedding rituals for a Tamil Iyer wedding was typically meant to last 5 days. But modern times have cropped the whole wedding to crisp 3 day grand celebration at a kalayana mandapam (wedding hall). With changing times events like reception, Mehendi and Sangeet are also included. Guess the concept of more the merrier applies here too. 

It was the day before the D day. Gautham’s arrival was expected by one and all. Sri was decked up in the best of her clothes.  It wasn’t the typical one, with a lot of jaris and borders. It was a sober pink, with not much of jewellery. She preferred less make up and Gautham hated lipstick. She brushed aside the lip stick case and was just satisfied with some gloss.

Eye liner or no eye liner, Gautham liked it. So she was wondering as to whether she should use one or not and that’s when I entered her room, to help her get dressed. Her phone beeped for the nth time. It was Gautham yet again.

“How lucky men are. They just get to wear their clothes and start off. All they do after that is text us and ask why we aren’t ready as yet. Does he even know how difficult it is for me to catch a glimpse of him? And he complains that I don’t look at him at all. Phew!” she was ranting her way off. Wedding jitters perhaps and it was strange to me back then!

With all the hungama, the reception, mehendi and sangeet ended, but these two love birds were still posing for photographs, as the photographer was asking them to give strange poses. God! How did they even have the patience, I wondered! I remember Sri telling me, she had to wake up at 3 am in the morning, to get ready for her muhurtham!

It was 3 am in the morning and it was time for the mangala snanam. Turmeric paste was applied over her and her hair was neatly oiled. 

The funniest part was Kasi Yatra.  Gautham had to do this funny ritual of acting as if he was not interested in marriage. Actually he did it pretty effortlessly. He wasn’t interested in marriage anyways, before meeting Sri. The aunties there, were chatting their way to glory, what is called a typical TamBrahm “vambu” session !

“Love marriage am dee.”, said one.
“Enga paathundaalam? Nalla vela rendu perum nammalava.”, retorted the other, with a rather villainous smile.

They sounded rather displeased, when I interrupted them and asked them as to why this ritual was carried out. A slightly wise-looking and intellectually superior maami answered me

Immediately after his student-life, the young bachelor has two alternatives before him – Married life (Grihasta) or asceticism (Sanyas). Being by nature escapist, he prefers the ascetic life to the tribulations of married life. He therefore ‘makes his way’ to kasi (VARANASI), complete with slippers, umbrella, bamboo fan etc. On his way, the bride’s father intervenes and advises him of the superiority of married life to ascetic life. He also promises to give him his daughter as companion to face the challenge of life.
Other aspects pertaining to this tradition include:
During the wedding ceremony the groom is welcomed as Mahavishnu Svarupaya varahaya or maha vishnu himself (or the Siva the equivalent in the Adi Saiva tradition) and the bride as Lakshmi. Hence, it is imperative that he knows no sin. Hence, he needs to perform a yatra to kashi , submerge in Ganges and to the wedding purified.”

Rather interesting, I thought. So the last chance to a great escape and the last open-gate to freedom, was permanently locked !!!

It was then the ceremony which involved the exchange of garlands. They played, by avoiding the other from garlanding them. A garland worn by a person, should not be used by another, ordain our shastras. Here the exchange of garlands symbolizes their unification – as one soul in two bodies. It is in inward acceptance by each of the very fragrance of the other.  As this was running in my mind, Gautham did a neat slam dunk with the garland.

“Maalai saatrinaal kodhai maalai maatrinaal,
Maaladainthu mathilarangan maalai avar than maarbile
Mayyalal thaiyyalal maamalar karathinaal “

Oh boy! How I love listening to this song, each time in a wedding!

Meanwhile, the aunties and paatis were rolling red and yellow rice balls, very frantically. A swing was decked up with flowers and children were sitting on the either side. Sri and Gautham inched slowly to the swing and took their respective positions, Sri always to the right of Gautham. The chains of the swing signify the eternal Karmic link with Almighty above. The to-and-fro motion represents the undulating sea-waves of life; yet, in mind and body they shall move in harmony unperturbed, steady and stable.

Then the aunties gang started again

“Palale Kalalambi, Pattale Thudaithu,
Muthana pengal ellam, Muvarumai Chutta Lali
Ganga Jalangal Kondu, Mangayargal Devi,
Mani vilakkai kayyil endi - Valaya Vandu Chuttha Lali “

One of those famous lali songs again!

Just as the song was sung, milk and banana was served to the couple. The children still insisted on swinging though ! I remember sitting on one of those oonjals as a kid !!

As the ritual was completed, the maamis started their vambu again! God, as intelligent as they sound when they sing, the dumber they sound when they talk.

Gautham’s mom called from a distance

 “Dei time aachu. Na solradha sollitten aprom un ishtam, paathuko”, her voice trailed off.  She was a beautiful woman, with curly hair and the most captivating smile. She had a commanding voice but used it in the sweetest way possible. She was not one of those typical mothers-in-law who would ask the bride if she had her pills or if she was wearing the jewels designed for her. She was as traditional as possible at heart and as modern as possible when it came to matters of the mind.

His dad on the other hand was an epitome of patience. The innocence in his face, would make anyone adore his personality! His poise and the lovely gait would make anyone mistake him for the bride's father. To him, Sri was not different from Gautham. He treated her just as he treated his son. 

How lucky Sri was ! She held his hand tight !  She was going to a home away from home !



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  2. The chains of the swing signify the eternal Karmic link with Almighty above. The to-and-fro motion represents the undulating sea-waves of life; yet, in mind and body they shall move in harmony unperturbed, steady and stable.

    Wow!!!! This explanation blew off my heart


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