Weddings in our part of the world are colorful, clamorous, chaotic, boisterous affairs.
The focus is on the food and and merrymaking usually involves a lot of singing, clapping and jumping.
The clothes are very extravagantly embroidered, sequinned and colored. The guests might seem to be on a quest to outdo one another in terms of bling and shine.
If you aren’t accustomed to it, or have never attended a Thalassery* wedding (or any Indian wedding for that matter), you might have to head home with a splitting headache.
As a Malayali (Malayalam is a South Indian language), I should make special mention of THE GOLD. I might be disowned otherwise.We usually tend to measure our gold jewellery in sovereigns (1 sovereign = 8 grams) and kilos.
It’s just how it is. Don’t ask me why!
These advertisements and pictures will tell you the story.
If you think this is insane…
In reality, it’s much worse actually!
Gold aside… what happens on the actual day of the wedding, you ask ? Here goes…
– A whole bunch of people from the bride’s paternal side arrive with the outfit for the morning. (The maternal party is responsible for the Mehendi night- the day before that is.)
– They dress her up.
– She piles on the gold.
– Everybody (the ladies) stares at the decked up bride.
– The bride’s senior male relatives and uncles leave for the groom’s house in a convoy. The groom has to be invited (to his own wedding!) you see.
– The aforementioned party come back, closely followed by the groom and his herd of raucous friends and uppity relatives. Males only for now.
– The Nikah, or the actual wedding ceremony occurs. Involves some more gold. And some praying and signing. Goes without saying, there is some eating involved as well.
– The groom is taken up to the “bridal bedchamber”. The newly married couple officially meet for the first time.
– The bride is quickly whisked away and the poor groom is hoarded by male relatives and friends from both sides. They is a lot of male camaraderie, bonhomie, wishing and back- slapping. Some sidey/ corny/ not- so – funny “first- night” jokes make their appearance.
– The groom goes back to his place.
– Lunch is served for the guest at both the homes (bride’s and groom’s).
– The groom’s female party arrive. A few important “dignitaries” come in first with a whole bunch of goodies for the bride. They doll her up in their own way this time. The bigger, more clamourous bunch comes in a little later. In a couple of buses no less.
– More serving and eating happens.
– The groom’s “bridal party” now claims ownership of the bride. They take her away to their place.
– As thought to fight for ownership and to “check- out” the groom’s place, the bride’s female relaitves go to the groom’s houses in buses of their own.
– The bus ride is an event in itself. There is dancing in the aisles and lots of screechy, un- melodious but very enjoyable single involved.
– At the groom’s house, again everybody eats.
– The action shifts to the groom’s house now, after the bridal party leaves.
– Ragging, introductions, teasing, staring…. the bride is under the scanner, while the groom chills. His turn too shall come, soon.
– A few hours later, another bunch of cars arrive. Filled with the higher echelon male relatives of the bride. To escort the bride and groom back to the bride’s house. For dinner.
– The first Groom Dinner is a mega, super- elaborate affair. He is stuffed to the brim. Poor guy can barely walk to his room.
– The cousins then make absolutely sure that he doesn’t get in easily. Some crisp notes to key members of the Cousin Company helps ease matters.
– It is generally well past mid- night by the time the bride and groom can get a moment to themselves.
– Then… well the doors are shut!
Phew. I cannot go on.
There’s more actually.
Before and after the wedding.
There is a lot of Going and Coming.
And lots and lots of food.
Well, it’s a food festival for almost a month. Not only on the day of, the food celebrations continues for several days after. Weeks even.
For example, this is dinner on day three, after the wedding…
This is why I love Thalassery weddings!
Arrrrgh, I’m hungry again…
Till next time…
* A town/ city in the nothern Kerala district of Kannur. And Kerala is a southern State in India.