And another one bites the dust ... here's a picture of Andy and Sudha
Yours truly was in Bombay to attend the marriage of (as declared by the marriage hall notice board) Chi. Anand Krishnamurthy and Sou. Sudha (this notice board was promptly changed to "Sudha weds Anand" by Sudha's sister)
The wedding, like most Indian weddings, was steeped in rituals ... As both the bride and the groom were Tams ... it was steeped in Tam rituals.
When I entered the marriage hall (a day before the marriage date) Andy was already busy with pre-marriage rituals. He was dressed in a white (P Chitmabaram style) dhoti which, I was told, is called a "Veshthi". This dhoti is not to be confused with UP-Bihar dhoti which is wrapped with an edge running between the legs (possibly to prevent free peek shows) ... The "Veshthi" is elegently wrapped around the waist and covers from waist to ankles (I would refrain from giving paralells of "lungi" for the fear that my Tam friends might kill me for doing that).
Back to Andy's dress ... he was also wearing an "Angvastram" ... I am positively sure that the "Angvastram" was invented for the sole purpose of hiding hairy backs and overgrown tummies ... Though Andy didn't seem to need the white cloth drape for either of the two purposes - Like all good grooms (with Teja being the most amplified example of this pre-marriage phenominon) Andy seemed to have worked-out and (please note the clever pun) "toand-down" the bulging belly ... On the other front - Initially I feared that metrosexuality might have forced Andy to get a fully body wax done, but I was relieved to find (upon closer examination) that he had done no such idiotics ... Other interesting parts of the dress were a grass/fiber ring or knot that Andy wore throughout the rituals and a blindfold which was briefly put over Andy's eyes (I guess even the bravest cannot be expected to walk into the pitfall called marriage with open eyes ... in our parts of the country the blinding is done by a clever device called the "Sehra") ... I so sincerely hope that Afshan (my wife) never reads this blog
Anu (Andy's younger sis ... and for the purpose of record it must be mentioned that she was the most gracious hostess ... and that she looked gorgeous in all the various dresses that she wore throughout the wedding) explained the ceremonies to me - The morning had begun with a Puja after which the ladies of the house had a ceremony towards a blissful and happy married life for Andy (Pandakall) ... this was followed by symbolic feeding of the forefathers (Nandi) ... Now in all practicality, forefathers cannot be possibly fed, so 8-10 brahmins are fed instead ... and this is done by both the bride and the groom's families
The evening was reserved for formal engagement (Nichchiyadhratam) ... Sudha received gifts from Anu (Sis-in-law) and Andy got gifts from his BIL. There was a formal marriage declaration written on a parchment ... my guess is that its Tamil contents would have read something like " Let this be known that Andy is getting married to Sudha tomorrow the 7th September 2007 etc etc"
Marriage was scheduled for early Friday morning. Yours truly is a late riser so missed a couple of morning ceremonies ... the first one missed was the Mangalsnanam ... as the name suggest this is a ritual bath (it ensures that Groom takes bath at least once in his lifetime ... this might seem scary to some creatures who might have forgotten the ancient custom of taking baths during the blissfull days of hostel life ) ... Mangalsnanam was followed by the Kashi-Yatra ... Kashi-Yatra is the time when the groom has the rare attack of sanity and he tries to run away from the marriage ... ritually the bride's family cajole him back and he is quickly married off.
Actual marriage was the time when I entered the Kalyanmadapa. Andy was again wearing a dhoti ... this time it was worn in the UP-Bihar style (I wonder why) ... And it was me who was wearing the "Veshthi" ... Andy's mom had somehow managed to get all of Andy's friends and colleagues show up wearing "Veshthis" ( At that moment the marriage could have been mistaken for a mini-conclave of P chidambaram impersonators) ...
There was jaymala, Pheras, throwing of belssings in form of flowers and rice etc etc... within an hour Andy and Sudha were formally Man and Wife
After much celebrations (and touching of feet by the newly married couple) everyone went down to the basement for some Wholesome Tam Marriage Food served on banana-leaves. Infact I had eaten Wholesome Tam Marriage Food for breakfast, lunch and dinner the day before the marriage as well. This was good time for me to brush-up my eating-on-banana-leaf etiquettes ... thanks to Gourishanker and Ravi for helping me on this front ... for the uninitiated there is not much rocket science involved ... one just has to sprinkle the leaf with water and pretend to clean it with swipe of a hand ... then one has to just wait for the different dishes to arrive ... the people serving will automatically place things on the right parts of the leaf ... also one needs to know the art of managing flowing Sambhar and Rassam with rice ... a good advice is that you take Sambhar in a little well dug in the middle of the rice heap and avoid taking Rassam (or ask the guy to bring it in a cup) ... there is also some confusion regarding whether the leaf requires to be folded after one has had his full ... but this is hardly a problem ... I observed that most people did not fold the leaf after they were done and I guess there wouldn't be a serious breach of protocol if one just leaves the leaf as it is and walks off ...
Finally we had a reception on friday evening ... it was well attended and was a good time for catching up with IIMB batchmates ... lots of people were spotted at the reception - Gokhale (he had to be rescued from an uncle who worked in the paint industry), Nabar (getting married this December), Smruti and Shanu, Nitin Agarwal and Piyush Jain, Garga, Pansari, Dabas, God, Dola, Ganny ... Newly married couple of Pati and Payal looked wonderful together ... Pati, Shanu and Smruti were the only married people (apart from Andy) who had brought their spouses along. Veena had earlier attended the wedding ceremonies along with her hubby JB. After everyone had had their fill of delicious (non-tam) Veg food (which wasn't served on banana leaf) and after everyone had exchanged phone numbers/ latest gossip ... those afraid of their wives were the first ones to scoot off , they were closely followed by those who had office on Saturday ... this left a few intrepid ones who headed off to a 5-star watering-hole (sponsored by dola ... many thanks dude) ...
So that was the Andy weds Sudha story ... Here's wishing the best for the couple ... (who, by the way, are off to a trip of Italy) ..