Wednesday, March 26, 2008

coimbatore kalyanam


The wedding...

....was not very spectacular except it was 5 in the morning and I have to post about it and get Coimbatore out of my system.

(read part 1 and 2 in the previous posts)

We arrived at 4:30 a.m (I am very scared of my aunt) - my mother and I properly silk saree-ed and gold jewelery-ied. We looked silly walking in that finery at 4:30 in the morning. My mother wanted kumar anna to walk with us to the mantabam. I put my foot down and poor office going kumar anna got to sleep a little longer. However it dint reduce the amount of jewelery my mother thought was mandatory minimum (earrings, one chain, one bangle- all having some gold/silver/precious stone). So we walked alone to the mantabam in all our finery.

There was no one there. A very sleepy looking groom (my cousin) on the stage. Both sets of parents(the bride and the grooms) were up and most uncles i.e my mothers siblings were up. Not one under age 50 person was awake - besides the groom. And me.

Anyway the kasi yatra/ mapalaiayyap was in progress. In this ritual the groom makes his merry way to lead the life of the bhramachari (bachelor). The brides father follows him and advise him to live the life of the grhastri (householder) and ask him to marry his young very available daughter. The groom then returns. I have always secretly hoped that at some wedding the groom will just walk on and choosing to screw the life of grhastri. It has never happened so far.

My cousin was off - well equipped with umbrella, a fan and some reading material (the vishnu sarsnamam). His father in law followed him out. Their interaction happened - in sanskrit. So the priest has to be there too feeding them both their lines. My cousin looked most silly holding the umbrella open at 5 in the morning- no rain no sun. Having acted out the little skit we all returned to the wedding hall. All this happens with great fan fare and the preist chanting things and so on. I elaborate because when i explained this ceremony to one of my friends he wanted to know if they groom and father in law just stepped out for a smoke and a chat and walked back in. No it does not happen like that. There are garlands and umbrellas and fans and fanfare.

Next was the malai mathu. 15 minutes of pure silliness but all of us went aww oooo and chuckle indulgently like its the cutest thing next to miniature kittens(which are just creepy). The groom tries to garland the bride while she is lifted, pulled, pushed by bunch of uncles and vice versa. In any case thankfully at a sleepy 5 o clock neither were my cousins relatives nor the brides relatives very enthusiastic about hoisting these two overweight 20 somethings on their shoulders and so just let them garland each other and be done with it.

Then they were led to the oonjal(swing) where the bride and groom sit. Tuneless aged relatives croon some songs - old favorites like gowri kalyanam and alai payuthe- tunes and words i havent been able to pick up even though i have been to a 10001 weddings by now. There is some part of me that will just never learn to sing gauri kalyanam. New favorites like alai payuthe which is reflected in mani ratnam movie titles i might imbibe. Old and older aunts (married aunts) touch the feet o the bride and grrom with milk and pour sweetened milk and banana into their outstreched hands. Then they will circle rice balls and throw them. After much cursing, heaving sighing, groaning and gasping, as the old and older aunts struggled with all the bending and (fondly wishing for the happier days when the bride was 6 and the groom was 10 and their feet would conveniently stick straight out of the swing) the bride and groom were finally led to the medai. (stage)

After some homam the bride was presented with her nine yard saree (ombodudgajam) and sent off to change into it and I had to scurry behind her. Of course as the groom's sister I am supposed to help her wear it. Obviously I dont know the first thing about ombodugajam's (as was later revealed to my aunts chagrin) so a grandmother was procured. They insisted I enter the room with the bride when she changed. There is no better ice breaker for chicks other than dressing together or visiting the loo. So we chatted while she was being disrobed and robed. Awkward yes but also a good ice breaker- really. I made subtle inquiries about other young eligible marriageable Coimbatore women, as my parents had been going on and on about a particular coimbatore girl they favoured for my brother. However- no luck - its seems everybody in coimbatore does not know each other. I returned disappointed with the ombodugajam-ed bride and deposited her on the medai. 'Her ombodugajam is backwards' hissed my aunt in my ear. 'what? really? it looks fine' i stuttered. After eliciting the name of the grandmother who was in charge of saree tying my aunt made her hasty way. The brides mother intervened and said everything was just perfectly tied thank you very much and if my aunt dint have such 'critical eyes' she would notice that everything was fine too. My aunt's eyes bulged, breath caught in her throat. She could not imagine that a 'boy's mother' could be treated with such little deference.

Meanwhile the experienced priest speeded up the proceedings and lo it was time for thali! -for THE ceremony- the kanyadanam and the one in which I had a good sized role. The father sat on the chair while his daughter sat on his lap. Many an aged father has struggled to keep an overwieght daughter on his lap - another relic of the times when the bride would be no older that 6 or 7 and would probably hop out and run away if not held firmly in her fathers lap. Anyway luckily my cousin's bride was thin and her father looked suitably healthy. My cousin towered over them tall and macho tied the thali around her neck (one knot- the other two were tied by me) under a rain of rice and flowers hurled at them as blessings. And it was over. I hung around uselessly my star role over and forgotten and a lil peeved at my time on stage being taken away- when that wonderful priest called and said thali katna kaikku edhadu koodongo (give somethign to the hand that tied that thali) and i was seated and handed a saree by the brides parents. It was pretty -orange and pink. ''Check if they have included blouse piece" hissed my aunt in my ear. I was happy. Of course if i was own sister i would have got maybe gold diamond what not. But this was ok for now.

The bride and groom continued with their very many other homams and ceremonies including the groom bending to put the toe ring on the bride's foot and the the seven steps. But i was off
towards my filter coffee and a nice full breakfast of vadias and pongals and sojjis and returned home to sleep.

(i returned again to the mntapam in the afternoon for lunch and many politicking and maami talk of 'appron? ava enai sona? idu kela di.... ponnu amma yenai kudutha? and so on but no i am not blogging about that)

end of coimbatore


  1. what on earth does the last para mean?

  2. :)

    its code for maami talk.

    basically i returned to the wedding hall to hear wives of mother's brother (maami) gossip very loosely translated into "then?" , "listen to this ya", "what did girls mother say"