Story of a Bengali-weds-Tamilian marriage in Chennai.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Mor Milagai, Naan & Lemon Souffle

The groom came from Calcutta, oops, Kolkata. But then, he was working in Gurgaon, and was moving to Bangalore and, surprise, surprise, grew up in Chennai when it was Madras. So he can understand Tamil, he informed, almost with a note of warning, lest we discuss him in our mother tongue and pay for the peril.
On the top floor of the Ramada Inn, the groom's party and the brides congregated for a get-together, and it took much of the tropical heat to break the ice on that Saturday, Nov 19.The sign on the way to the lift/elevator said "South-East Monsoon Wedding".
Factually, this was the season of the North-East Monsoon, but someone clever had done a nice take on the Bengali groom and the Tamil bride, he of the numbers and she of the designs. It rained and rained in Chennai the day after the wedding but the parties were saved the agony of a drenched D-Day, which would probably have entailed the guests to some swimming exercise, given the road conditions of the city.The top floor of the Ramada overlooked the city's glittering nightlights, blessed by the new money spawned by IT, automotives and suchlike exports. The bride wore a designer saree, and had apparently chosen one for her sister too, and the twosome stood well in contrast to the harried men of the family, who were busy all through the day ferrying members of the groom's party. That was a good excuse to turn up in frazzled T-shirts and jeans.
Cosmo weddings are here, but some things don't change. The bride's father (and uncles) are usually the worried lot.The spread included a dainty-quainty mix of the north and south, though I could not spot the east, unless someone had chosen to eat someone from the groom's party. As far as I know, there were none eating that kind of stuff, although the F&B manager confirmed to me that eggs were present in the souffle.Oh, well. Some things do change in Brahmindom of the New Millennium. Wait till you hear about the pundit.

The Polyglot Ritual

Like I said, it didn't rain on D-Day. The bride probably did not eat raw rice as a child, or else her karma is ruled by Bengali superstitions rather than southern ones, under some pre-ordained arrangement in the Department of Heaven.God rules, Ok?The exalted pedestal at the New Woodlands was a nice one for a viewer-friendly wedding. The iron "homakundam" was a concession to modernity, and so was the Arya Samaj priest.His name was Tamilarasan, and he delivered good Sanskrit mantras, with simultaneous translations in Tamil and Hindi which would have done Kofi Annan or the U.N. proud. And he backed it up with some nice, sarky comments for the crowd, which preferred to bless Him and Her by chattering than invent a confetti of thoughts in solemn silence.Oh well, we come to weddings to say hullo to friends and family, right? If the groom and bride elope halfway through the ritual, it would be difficult for anyone to spot them missing, bar the priest, who might well give a chance if the smoke gets in his eyes.The said Tamilarasan asked the crowd to be quiet. They were not. They wore silk and zari and bantered a lot. Besides, it is fun to talk at a wedding where the groom bends earnestly in a churidar kurta while the nadaswaram plays on.And we are not to forget the conch-blowing and the yodelling howls of the Bongs, for whom it is auspicious to howl when things are going well. (They forgot to do it when Sourav was batting, on many occasions, it seems!).A certain uncle of the bride had to fight with one of the hotel authorities, who murmured something about guests (at the hotel, not the wedding) being disturbed by the unlikely sounds whose origins were traced to the Sunderbans or thereabouts.

Designer Priest, Designer Bride

To the sound of the nadaswarams and the conchshells, the abridged wedding reached its crescendo. The priest, forever the impish one, asked the crowd to bless the couple aloud. When they murmured under their breath, he clinched the issue: "All along when I asked you to keep quiet, you did not. Now I am asking you to say something, and you are keeping silent."
This one is a designer sastrigal, I tell you.
Goes with the bride, what?

Banana Leaf and Bay of Bengal

The Big Feast came in the end.
Puris and aloo subzi
Kalan (bride's mother from Kerala, please to remember)
Then the usual sambar, rasam etc.
No fish, thank you very much.
(That must have been at the reception in Kolkata).
It rained the day after the wedding, as if to say something in the cyclonic event was common to Chennai and Kolkata.
The Bay of Bengal!