25 June, 2013

The TamBrahm Series Part 6 - The Wedding Finale a.k.a Shanti Muhurtham




(Pic courtesy : penciljammers.com via Google)

OK ….. the final edition is finally here.  Or rather, I think I should say, the muhurtham for the final edition is finally here. 

Now… on to what is considered by one and all (pssst….. especially the elderly and middle aged members of each and every TamBrahm family) as the most important “event” in a TamBrahm wedding.  My apologies if I made that sound like a “disco event”  or a “pool party event”  or some such.  The truth, my dear readers, is far from that.  The grand finale of any TamBrahm wedding is nothing other than the ubiquitous “First Night”.  Sounds corny, doesn’t it ?  Well, it is !! 

That “First Night”  does not mean the bride and the groom haven’t ever seen nights before.  Oh ! They have !  Just that all the mamis and mamas and paatis and paatas hope, within the secret recesses of their minds, that the bride and the groom have never seen nights together, in each others’ company before.  Sounds even cheesier, doesn’t it ?  Well, it is !!!  It does not get any cheesier than that !!

I’ve always maintained that the elderly population at a TamBrahm wedding have had just one thing on their minds throughout the 2 day wedding “ceremony”.  A major part of their conscious minds are focused on just one thing – the culmination of the wedding in that misnomer called Shanti Muhurtham.  I mean, who in the name of God named it that ??  What Shanti and why (oh god ! why ?) muhurtham ?? 

I can just about picture the hairy chested, pot bellied astrologer (or better still, the priest) speaking in voice loud enough for everybody in that noisy hall to hear “Shanti Muhurtham nalaikku kaarthale 2.47 akkum”.  Ahem ….. I think its time we have a Privacy Ordinance put in, as far as such things go.  The groom’s amma appa and the bride’s amma appa do need to give this serious thought.  Do they really want some third person telling their son and daughter when to consummate their marriage (assuming a lot of things here, aren’t they?).  Really ???!!!  Also, when it comes to things like these, why do the vadhyar’s deem it fit to raise their voices by a few octaves and sound as pompous as a high priest decreeing something and Luciano Pavarotti put together.  Thank the Lord they don’t ask for Getti Melam when they announce the said Shanti Muhurtham.  On second thoughts, that Getti Melam might actually be useful in drowning out the creepy Vadhyar’s voice.  For those of you who are wondering, there was no such announcement at our wedding because the priest said “mujhe meri jaan pyaari” !!  Much to my horror, I have heard these “announcements”  at a few other weddings. 

Now, focusing our attention on the hapless bride and the luckless groom who would be getting all heckled and pestered by a multiple of mama / mami posses.  Actually it is more of the mamis, truth be told.  Some mamis will rather helpfully (or so they think !) ask the bride if she knows “what is going to happen ?”  They will make it sound as secretive, mysterious and cagey as the ending of an episode of 24.  Difference being 24 leaves you waiting with bated breath for the next episode while the mamis run a huge risk of having something heavy whacked on those rather momentarily dense heads of theirs.

I do remember one such helpful soul asking me this and well, as politely as I could, I do remember saying “since you are very experienced, why don’t we get a glass of filter kaapi each, talk this over and you can tell me all about it…in all the infinite detail that you can muster ?  You game, maami ?”.  Don’t know why but right then and later, every single time I’ve run into this altruistic soul, she’s made a beeline to someplace a safe distance away from me.  I sincerely wonder why ??

The bride’s parents actually buy a special sari for this said Shanti Muhurtham and the groom is rather helpfully (I shall explain why I used that term, later) given a spotless white silk veshti to wear.  Let’s name the room “The Shanti Muhurtham Alcove”.  Play along here, will you ?  Things are just warming up !
In the meanwhile, the bride’s parents would have spent a small fortune getting one room in the house turned into the valleys of Kashmir sans the snow.  Flowers, flowers everywhere …. literally everywhere so that the next morning, the groom’s spotless white silk veshti would look like an acrylic painting gone horribly wrong … with blotches of different colours splashed all over.  Flowers do leave their mark, you know ? 

There would be loads (and I mean loads – am SO not exaggerating here) of exotic fruit and laddoos and jalebis and what have you, set out in the SM Alcove.  There will also be a container of milk there.  

Now this reminds me of a funny incident.  One of my friends took offence to the fact that there was just one glass of milk in that container.  Apparently this milk is said to be boiled with saffron and cardamom and all good things in this world so quite obviously, she wanted a glass of milk too.  The groom’s amma had to dish up another glass of this said amrit and another container was duly placed in their alcove.  Now it so turned out that the groom was not fond of milk and so my friend had to gulp down two large glasses of the saffroned and cardamomed mik.  Assuming that they were supposed to finish all that fruit and sweets set out there, the bride and the groom got to work, stuffing themselves like squirrels before winter.  She was later of the opinion that the milk is not an aphrodisiac but it works well as an emetic.  She also helpfully opined that fruit and sweets in the Alcove were not a good idea either.  Their Shanti Muhurtham worked out super well for them, I presume !!   

The mamis in the house must have been rather taken aback with all those sounds of the bride throwing up and what have you.  I’m sure they were shocked beyond belief into thinking “Ayyo !!  Ethira Vegama”  a.k.a “Ayyo !  Evalovu Seekarama ?” a.k.a Oh God !!  So quickly ?? How the hell did things move so fast and more importantly, produce results so fast ??  The whole throwing up incident would probably get labeled as something to do with “Kalyug or Kali Kaalam”. 

Another feature of the Alcove would be agarbattis in all different corners of the room.  What purpose this serves is something no one has been able to figure out but the amount of smoke and haze it creates in that Alcove would put the Singapore and Malaysia of today, to shame.  Singaporeans who complain of haze in their city should step into one of the Shanti Muhurtham Alcoves, I say.  The olfactory senses would be under an immediate assault with aromas of jasmine, sandalwood and all other fragrances that the human mind can conjure up, floating up and playing drums with the olfactory nerves of the bride and the groom.  

They should provide the couple with two of those masks that are used when there is a viral contagion on.  That would help, probably.  If the smoke situation is really expected to be bad with agarbattis and the aromatherapy stuff being lit too, then oxygen masks could fall from the ceiling.  Cool !!  Sci-fi themed Shanti Muhurtham !! 

In my opinion, this sure is some form of medieval torture, to be honest.  The immediate reaction would be to sneeze but then again, there would be hawkeyes or rather hawk ears waiting for sounds of sneezes.  Sneezes, you see, in the TamBrahm book of Superstitions, rank supreme as being bad.  So someone sneezing in the Shanti Muhurtham Alcove is not going to be looked upon well, to be honest.  

While the bride and the groom are standing on their heads in an yogic pose meant to prevent sneezing, a whole bunch of mamis would be standing outside the door of the alcove and singing Mangalam.  Hain ???  But then again, who said any of this is even remotely meant to be sensible, huh ??!!  Thank God they don’t get the Getti Melam orchestra home or wherever the said Alcove is !!  Now that would really be something.

By now, the already overworked and tired brains of the bride and the groom would have been sufficiently numbed and anaesthetized with sweets, spiced milk and a dozen different kinds of smoke floating around in the said room.  They would not be able to turn the fan on because remember the bride’s parents having turned that room into a Mini Kashmir ?  In this Kashmir, the long ropes of flowers would be attached to the ceiling fan.  Where else ??  A whole sheaf of flowers would probably be, rather helpfully, blocking the ac vent as well.  Even better !! 

Speaking of agarbattis reminds me of yet another hilarious incident.  Another one of my friends scared, literally scared the living daylights out of her newly minted husband.  They were all by themselves, in their said Alcove and suddenly, out of the blue, she starts howling, real loudly.  One can just about imagine the groom, frozen into inaction, looking completely bewildered, not to mention frightened.  Must have looked like one of those lambs being led to the slaughter.  This friend of mine simply wouldn’t stop crying and she said the groom backed away to the other end of the room, one arm outstretched, fingers extended as if to say “No No… please don’t cry”.  His imagination sure must have galloped faster than any of the thoroughbreds racing at the Jockey Club here.  Turns out the agarbatti was the culprit.  It had burned a small hole in her brand new kancheevaram silk saree and that tipped the scales and set her howling.  That groom sure must have been scarred for life by her antics that day.

Well, folks … not to draw this any longer and quarter it out ….. those six blogposts (including this one) were a sneak, satirical, humorous preview into a TamBrahm wedding from the protagonists’ (a.k.a the bride and the groom) point of view.

Hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed penning them down.  Until inspiration strikes again and points at yet another target to aim at ….. so long, folks !!


Happy Mangalam or whatever the hell that is !! :-)


2 voice(s) said so:

Swati Raman Garg said...

iam an otherwise bhrasht tambrahm ... but love tam brahm weddings... despite the odd hours ... and also i love the high of the shanti muhurtham... its funny but everybody cries... even the always i dont care attitude brother would... but it was super funny reading this... :)

Kavi said...

Gauri,

Actually tumbled upon your blog by chance.Awesome articles and feeling bad that i didn't find this gem pieces earlier..me too a TamBrahm and all the wonderful articles helped me reminisce the whole marriage with laughs..

Hats off for the great effort..Looking for more from you..

Kavi