Blog post by Anand Kumar
‘2 States’ is a movie from Karan Johar’s stable which went on to be a part of the hallowed 100 crore club. In this movie which is incidentally based on Chetan Bhagat’s novel with the same name, the hero – a Punjabi falls in love with a Tambrahm girl. The movie goes on to show the struggles involved in marriage of the two 1800 different cultures before the actual marriage of the 2 individuals. It is understandable that in such a marriage involving 2 different cultures, there is a voluntary and involuntary fusion of
rites, practices and ‘rasams’ (not be confused with Sambhar/Rasam ) in the marriage ceremony.
Still reeling under the hangover of 2 Tambrahm weddings which I was part of recently, which actually DID NOT involve “2 states”, the change I saw was interesting. This post is not about the movie ‘2 States’ but the changes in the marriage scene seen oflate. Before I get down to explaining that, a bit of backgrounder is in order.
Typical Tambrahm weddings as we all know in the past were quiet, staid affairs where Serious mamas meet their more serious counterparts and use the opportunity to
discuss world affairs and enhance their knowledge Enthusiastic mamis use the opportunity to exhibit their latest and also expose their precious yellow metal jewelry to sunlight (which are otherwise confined to the dark
interiors of Bank lockers) Studious Ambis compare notes with their clan on the latest ranking of US Universities/B Schools and the like,.. Ponna poranthava (commonly known as PYTs) keep shuttling between here and there in the hall to garner attention
There is no official ‘Mehndi’ ceremony and all and the bride to be gets her work done in a parlour silently The only sartorial indulgence from the men’s camp would be “bush shirt along with new Veshti” Meal after meal in the 2 day marriage affair will be served in banana leaf with variations limited to the Payasam or the vegetable used in the Sambhar in the different meals (Brinjal Sambhar in the morning, Carrot/Potato one in the afternoon
and again Brinjal for dinner) Noise levels are low except for the Nadaswaram considered a “Mangala Vadyam” During key instances in the wedding like “Muhurtam”,.. – the vadyars and then followed by almost all men yell ‘Getti Melam, Getti Melam’. Otherwise the music is pleasant and indeed soothing. The Reception function is also quite a quiet affair where on the one side an artist (usually an emerging one) plays the flute or violin (Carnatic music mostly) and on the other side people queue up to wish the couple and pose for the customary photoop In general no major excitement in the events except for ‘Malai mathu’ ritual where from both sides folks try to prevent the bride and groom from exchanging garlands easily. There are smiles and laughter all around from elders knowing very well that this will be last opportunity for oneupmanship for the groom in life.
Or ‘Nalungu’ ritual after the wedding which is also a game of one-upmanship. Again, elders push the groom to have maximum fun as possible. Can you imagine what will happen if he tries to break a papadam on his wife’s head the next day or few days later??? Hell hath no fury like a woman whose hair is disturbed
In short, for the ever conservative, serious Tambrahm community marriages were occasions to meet and catch up with short moments of excitement here and there. That’s all. But these have become passé.
Today even Tambrahm marriages are getting “obese” and are aspiring to be of “the Big Fat Punjabi Wedding” class. So even in a regular Tambrahm wedding don’t be surprised if Kanjivaram silk saree meets a Patiala suit. These days men turn up mostly in designer Kurtas, girls in Lehenga choli and ladies in backless! If not a very elaborate ‘Mehndi’ ceremony as yet, applying mehndi and preparing for the wedding is no more a dull affair for the bride to be. Choru and Sambar are being replaced by Chole Batura,… and buffet fare atleast the previous day. At the reception, city’s popular DJs belt top of the pop numbers to which young and the old alike sway, croon and shake their hips and legs. Soon one can expect choreographed renditions of dance numbers I think. These changes have not happened overnight but have been doing the rounds gradually over the last few years. But today the trend is stark. The credit for this transformation in the marriage scene must go to Bollywood and people like Karan Johar who in film after film thrust in a “Punjabi Wedding Song” and made this an aspirational affair for others. So don’t be surprised if soon the “Patiala peg” also mixes with the “Filter Kaapi” and you begin to hear Sundari Neeyum Sundaran Nyanum Chernirunthaal,….. Shaaavaaaa Shaaaavaaaa!!!