Everyone’s heard about Nair weddings that last for five minutes only as opposed to Brahmin weddings that could go on till the couple is in their fifth month of pregnancy.
My parents were shell shocked at this prospect. ‘What?! Just five minutes? What about Mapilai alapu, Kasi-Yatra, Oonjal, Nalangu and the works? Why even have a wedding? You guys go and get yourselves registered in some place in the US and let us know if you feel like. It is so stressful that there is nothing going on.’
I was happy that the time I spend in my sari would be less than the time spent draping it. Being ‘paiyenda chechi’ (groom’s sister), I had not much of a role other than hanging out and smiling at the camera man. Pi felt like he got a real good deal in proving his worthiness as a son-in-law. Taking care of arrangements and running around had been cut ten-fold in this case.
My relatives were hanging around to have some fun and talk about the wedding that they almost missed while they were busy blinking.
On the D-hour, the groom’s side paraded from the hotel to the temple courtyard area where there is a mandap (stage) At the muhurtham (auspicious time previously set for wedding) the groom and his family (consisting of me) is ushered on the stage by a priest. The girl’s party is late to arrive by 10 minutes. So we wait as smoke started wafting out of my dad's ears. We see a huge glittering article moving towards the stage and are later to find that it is the bride (after we put on our sun glasses). If I went around asking my forty relatives to donate their gold for me to wear, the bride would have beaten me hollow. All those necklaces weighing down on you could have made Dara Singh neck less. Conclusion: Mallu women have strong neck.
So she arrives looking radiant, beautiful and all the mandatory bride adjectives. Just as she is being ushered on to the stage…some conch noise gets the priest all excited. He prohibits her from coming up and asks us all (except the groom) to get off the stage. Pandemonium ensues and it is gathered that the Lord’s doors have been closed for some offering and will open in 45 minutes. Only after that, can the wedding take place.
‘See ma, the Mallu wedding is lasting for more than 5 minutes. You were unnecessarily worried,” I tried. My mom couldn't see the humor.
My dad's ears were lit by a full blown fire now. Relatives reminded my raging dad every minute about the impending Rahu-Kalam. The time when nothing good should happen. Most of the good that is not happening in South India is because of this Rahu Kalam. People don’t embark on journeys, babies don’t get fed, children don’t write exams, shopkeepers don’t open their shops, films don’t get released during Rahu Kalam. To add to this, there is a whole month where nothing good happens. At least we have an excuse for the sad state of affairs.
Aah, I was talking about the wedding. Since everyone was suddenly jobless, they start looking for things to complain about. My granny tells me to go tell the bride to wear a bindi. I see a huge humungous bindi on bride's forehead from a distance of 50 feet and relay my findings to granny. Granny nods; but this is just the beginning of the bindi harassments to come. Note to self: Take her to eye clinic.
My mama complains it's too hot and I helpfully suggest removal of sweater. My kid cousins are bored and they don't hide the feeling. We play a game. Who ever guesses the correct number of gold bangles the bride is wearing will get an extra apalam during lunch. Ok fine, icecream.
So as Rahu was approaching, my brother was standing alone on the stage with his love-handles exposed to public during the whole time. He had managed to cover the unsightly protrutions in the front with his angavastram (cloth worn on top for purposes such as these- the priest needed to be reminded of that. In my brother's case, it could be used to wipe the drool too.). Pi's concern was that if the groom is jilted now, does he have to stand there forever?
Overheard my cousin having this conversation with the groom.
‘Gosh, you’ll have a tough time taking off all that jewelry in the night.’ *wink wink*
My brother is quick to reply, ‘Why bother taking them off?’
Aiyyo Bhagawane! What all I am hearing… that too in the temple premises.
Finally, Lord’s door opens and He is ready to bless the couple. Girl climbs on stage, we follow, tulasi garlands are exchanged, mangalsutra is tied, a lamp is circled three times and it’s done.
Next couple moves up. Before the camera guy could wind up, he managed to cover footage of the next three weddings performed in the same mandap by the same priest.
‘Great! Now can we eat?’ asks Pi.