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Corona and lean weddings

The big fat Indian wedding industry is suffering a great loss during corona times. However, it is a blessing to many that corona virus has restricted the wedding guests to fewer than 50. In fact, the people who had hesitated to get married with fewer than 1,000 guests a few years ago are getting hitched with just 20-30 spectators. It not only saves a lot of expenses but also helps avoid unwanted comments and hard feelings among family members.

Traditionally, Indian weddings are known for their varied customs and rituals. Generally in olden days, the weddings took place in the house. As soon as the wedding date is announced, the entire family goes into festive mode. People go for wedding shopping which involves gold jewellery, silver articles, vessels, silk saris and so on. Sweets and savouries are made to last until many days after the wedding.

Once everything is set, the ceremonies begin. In many places in South India, the wedding takes place in the bride’s house. At least 10 days before the wedding, a hole is dug in front of the house of the bride, a bamboo pole is placed in the hole and people perform puja to it praying for a peaceful and happy wedding. Typically, bamboo poles are used to create the marquee (large tent) under which weddings are performed and the guests seated. Hence the first bamboo pole which is placed on the ground is worshipped by applying turmeric, kumkum, torans and flowers. Nine ladies are considered auspicious to perform the ritual. It is also a symbol to convey to the people that there is an upcoming wedding in the house.

After this, the bride and the groom are not allowed to leave the house. This is to protect them from the “evil eye” or unwelcome incidents. They are taken care of like kings and queens. They are provided with good and healthy home-cooked meals and turmeric and mehendi are applied on them.

Vegetables and fruits are bought in bulk a few days before the wedding. All the family members gather at the wedding venue one day prior to the wedding to prepare the feast. As the food is cooked by family members with love and affection, it is devoured with great joy and happiness. The bride and the groom fast on the day of the wedding as a prayer for peaceful and happy wedding. It also helps cope with the stress and nervousness that they endure on that day.

Finally when the wedding day arrives, all the family members are dressed in traditional attire, they wear gold jewellery and the women fill their hair with flowers and they all have happy faces. The sound of Tavil, Nadhaswaram and Mridangam fills the air. When it is time for muhurtham, the groom ties the knot with a simple yellow thread with turmeric tied to it. Flowers and blessings shower from all directions on the newly wed couple. As the bride leaves for the groom’s place, she is sent with the sweets and savouries prepared for her before the wedding.

That was a happy Indian wedding that had the families close together. They were so involved in the weddings that they hardly had time to notice imperfections.

However, for long years until March, Indian weddings were just big and fat and considered events to show off wealth. They had jealous people and nitpickers who by their actions not only humiliated themselves but also caused immense stress in the minds of the hosts.

Coronavirus has come as a boon to many Indian families who can now safely avoid such people and expenses, not just for weddings but for other functions as well. I wish this became the new normal and stayed on forever.

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2020 10:14:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/corona-and-lean-weddings/article32760174.ece

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