Diary of a Little Woman | The Big Stupid Indian Wedding

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Young Nila rolls her eyes at the archaic rituals and practices that even today encumber the simple act of forging a matrimonial bond between two consenting Indian adults.

Marriages, we are told, are complicated. Do weddings need to be too?

October 4


Dearest Diary,


This has been THE LONGEST WEEKEND of my life. Aaargh! Until now I didn’t care much for weddings. Now I absolutely hate them.


Why, you ask? Here’s why.


Apoo Akka got married. Generally, I love Apoo Akka. She’s pretty cool. She treats me with respect and she always always gets me a book when she visits us. She never lies to me (I think) and she sometimes rags Shanky along with me :D


But this weekend was terrible. I can’t blame her for it though. It was all Vanaja Maami’s doing. Actually I can’t even blame Vanaja Maami for it fully. I realised that this is an age-old tradition and no matter how hard you try, most families end up sticking to this stupid tradition because breaking away from it will be too much of a bother.


“But what will people say?” Vanaja Maami said with shock when Najju Paati recommended that they have a simple temple wedding instead of calling 20,000 people for the function. Ok, Najju Paati was exaggerating with that 20,000 but 700 guests is a pretty long list, especially if it contains people whom neither Apoo Akka nor Karthik Anna have ever met in their lives.


It was an arranged marriage by the way. Karthik Anna is a software engineer who works in Mumbai. Vanaja Maami found him on Shankara Matrimony. Same caste. Horoscope match. Apoo Akka met him three times and the fourth time was their wedding ceremony. I actually thought Apoo Akka will rebel against this whole arranged thing but she was pretty quiet. Well, fighting with Vanaja Maami is not easy.


Anyhow, the guest list was a little more than 700. The venue was some mega huge mandapam near the beach and the wedding lasted three whole days! And since we are close relatives we had to spend ALL 3 DAYS at the hall, even though we lived in the same city.


I don’t know if it is because I saw this wedding from up close or because I am growing older and wiser but I did notice so so many things that has totally put me off this whole ‘Big Fat Indian Wedding’. For starters, 700 people is a bit too much, don’t you agree, diary? And Apoo Akka didn’t get any say on the guest list. Or her wedding dress. Or her makeup. Or the venue. And most importantly, not even on the boy she was going to marry. Luckily Karthik Anna seems ok. He took us out for dinner and ice cream, the third time he was meeting Apoo Akka. I think they didn’t want us to come but the parents from both sides forced them into it. They were pretty gracious about it though. Karthik Anna even took us out bowling. Made us promise not to tell Vanaja Maami. Hah!


Ok. Back to the complaints. First, guest list. Second, wedding clothes. Akka must have worn some 15 sarees in those 3 days. Just on Sunday, she changed 4 sarees in under 2 hours. All silk sarees. I looked at the price tags. Each one cost above Rs. 5,000. One of them was Rs. 20,000. Akka wore so much gold that when she walked under the sun, I had to cover my eyes. (Ok, I admit I’m exaggerating but it really was TOO much.) Karthik Anna also wore a couple of gold chains and a super fancy kurta for the reception.


The aunty who came to put make-up for Apoo Akka did an awful job. She made Akka look like a scary pink doll. Luckily Akka’s best friend did some damage control before sending her off to the stage.


Oh the stage! The smoke! The chaos! The never-ending mantras!


There are somethings that I absolutely didn’t understand. Ok, maybe some reciting of mantras does make sense. There is something strong and magnetic about them, so yeah, I guess they must have some deeper meaning that I’ll perhaps understand someday. But some traditions seemed so outdated.


Like the Kanyadaanam. Why should Murthy Maama give away Apoo Akka? Why can’t it be the other way round? Why does it have to be ‘giving away’ in the first place? She’s not a thing, no? You don’t give away your daughters! Appa would never give me away!


Then this whole thing about washing the groom’s feet. Why can’t he wash people’s feet instead? Since he is supposedly ‘taking away’ Apoo Akka, he should demonstrate that he will take good care of her by maybe washing her feet, no?


And this whole paying of bills. I overheard Vanaja Maami telling Amma that they spent 70 lakhs on the wedding. I butted in and asked if they split the bill with Karthik Anna’s parents. “Oh no! How can we do that!” Vanaja Maami sounded so shocked, as if I was suggesting something awful. Isn’t it legit for the person ‘taking away’ Apoo Akka to at least foot half the bill!


Oh, I totally forgot about the Kasi Yatra. It seems the groom suddenly has to throw a tantrum before the main ceremony saying he is going off to Kasi to become a sanyasi and then the bride’s father has to plead with him, explain why the groom has to go through the grihastha stage (that means homemaker types) and beg him to come back and marry his daughter. Such rubbish! I say if the groom wants to throw tantrums in the last minute then let him go. He should have made up his mind on this grihastha business well before agreeing to the wedding. Who wants fussy grooms?


Finally, the very fact that Apoo Akka has to live with her in-laws is just too much. If I ever get married, I’m going to get my husband to live with us and wash my feet EVERY DAY.


When we finally went home after those three exhausting days, I asked Appa what he thought about the wedding. He said, “Well, to tell you the truth, Nila Kutti, it was too much money. They could have spent it on a long, long honeymoon instead,” and winked at Amma.


“As for your wedding, Ms Nila, if you ever decide to get married, you’ll have to settle for a court wedding. I’m sorry I can’t afford to feed 1,000 people just because you decide to get married.”


“Oh, so you won’t force me to get married, Appa?” I asked. He started laughing and said, “I know you quite well, dear. I can’t even force you to eat a bowl of carrots.”


Haha. He does know me well. Appa rocks.


But Indian weddings definitely don’t.


Yours exhausted-ly,


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