I was at my cousin’s daughter’s marriage over the weekend. I was there almost the whole 2 days in a marriage after a very very long time, may be, after mine few years ago!! Marriage is the time where I get to meet my cousins, their children and chit chat for few hours at a stretch. It is also a time where you get to meet not so close relatives, acquaintances and friends and catch up with them learning what is happening in their lives.
Over the last few years, the conduct of marriages has undergone a sea change. Previously, the bride’s family takes complete ownership and responsibility for the smooth conduct of the marriage but now that responsibility is “outsourced” to the marriage contractors. I think this is one of the most welcome changes in the last so many years and we have to accept the concept of “core competency” of these marriage contractors. (With the recent demise of Mr CK Prahalad, guru of Core competency, I thought it is appropriate to use the term with regard to the marriage concept). These marriage contractors are meticulous in their work and we don’t have run around for anything. They are the first to come and last to leave in the marriage.
The MC manages all the important events starting from virutham to kasi yathirai to muhurtham to nalungu. You just sit and relax. These contractors are so well prepared they make everything available one after the other at the appointed time and the bride’s parents or relatives needn’t run after anything.
Looking back some 15 years ago when my elder cousins’ marriages were conducted in our hometown, Tuticorin, I remember being literally on our toes on all the three days of the marriage. The tension starts even before that when you have to fix the cook, Vadhyar, Flower arrangement, milk, vegetables etc., One day before the marriage, you have to go the railway station to receive the bridegroom and family, take them to the mandapam, keep them engaged and be always available if they have any issues. Till the bride and groom leave the town, a day after the marriage, you have to be on high alert. That was a different kind of fun compared to the present day outsourced marriage arrangements. The cook has to be monitored to ensure that the wastage is to the minimum, he or his group doesn’t swindle pulses, cashew nuts, sugar etc., Manning the store room is a full fledged job and there are few specialists who are always there to take care of this function. But the poor guy would miss most of the marriage doing this thankless job.
My father keeps talking about how he pushed a handcart to transport the vegetables from the market to the mandapam for one of my cousin sister’s marriage. I remember being completely occupied during the three days of marriage running from one corner of the mandapam to another. There will be always be something which we would have forgotten at home and you have to take the cycle and literally fly to get it to the mandapam. At the end of the three days of marriage, body would ache and long for rest. But I tell you the sense of satisfaction is immense in those types of marriages. I remember being actively involved in at least 3 of my cousin’s marriages in Tuticorin. I really doubt if we would be able to conduct a marriage like that!!
The most important part of any marriage is the food and in this marriage I really decided to make best use of the opportunity!!! I somehow felt that I have not been eating marriage food like I used to do years ago and this time I wanted to go the full hog. Of course, I missed the first day morning breakfast but made up on the other 7 possible occasions!!!! I really relished the food quality and the meticulous way it has been prepared and served. Simple South Indian Vegetarian stuff but it is more than enough for me. Who wants the panneer tikka and other exotic North Indian stuff in Tamil marriage?
Another interesting thing I enjoyed in this marriage is the "Nadaswaram". It was a group of 3 Nadaswaram vidwans, 1 Clarnet and 1 Saxophone with 2 Thavil Vidwans playing some memorable tunes on all the two days. Even on the day of reception, these Nadaswaram party enthralled the audience with their superlative performance. This Nadaswaram party also comes as part of the package deal given to the MC.
In this marriage, I met one of my acquaintances after more than 28 years. I last met him when I went to my cousin’s house in Pondicherry 25 years ago. After that, you get to hear how and what he is doing from my cousin, though never got a chance to meet him. He came to this marriage with his family and we both were immensely happy to meet each other. I have very vague memories of what we did together but still I felt nice to meet him.
After 2 days of relaxed life style and sumptuous eating, Monday morning was a challenge to get you up and go to office. There was an idea of going to the “Kattu Satham” as well but we decided against that.
Marriages are really nice occasions and we should make it a point to be there for the whole 2/3 days to get a welcome break from the routine. Possible only when the marriage happens during the weekend.