The Unholy Nature of Brahmin Marriages

For an outsider Brahmin Marriages are all about rituals, purity, tradition, Variety Dishes, Sarees, sacredness and any adjective that my lovely BRIT’s describe as Hunky-Dory. Its true to a certain extent but for an insider its all about Madisar Mamis and Atheys adding fuel to an already raging fire on Laddoos and Murukkus, the aging thathas showing off their wisdom by advising teenaged girls on what to wear and what not to wear, the NRI Mamis engaging in pep talks on marriage proposals for their son/ daughter and finally my lovely vadyars hap-hazardly reciting mantras.

It’s dirty once you get closer and this article is not about cleansing this dirt with Chennai Tap Water instead its all about revealing the nuances of a typical Brahmin Marriage.

Where do we start?

Obviously when the to-be bride meets the to-be groom. It happens all of a sudden, and it’s about first cum first served basis like a typical airline booking agency, where overbooking can also happen. If the girl is young and educated (MS or MTECH Plus) the boys will have to rush in before someone else snatches her. If the girl is old, whether educated or not, the picture changes altogether. In this rat race, the Madisar Mamis play an important part to ensure that their party wins at the end of the day. Ashtashastram becomes Vadamal, Btech becomes Mtech, 5 ft becomes 6 ft, white hair gets painted with black and handicapped part nicely gets camouflaged and many hidden facts gets modified according to the situation. All this happens for a rat race which lasts merely 10 min long.

So what’s a Brahmin Marriage all about? Custom, Rituals and Sanctity? No way.

A Brahmin Marriage is all about spending money at the wrong place, but holding the expenditure button tight when it’s absolutely necessary. When they spend more money on Nadaswaram and RmKV Sarees they hold their wallet tight on Laddoos and Murukkus, Vegetables, food articles and other critical commodities.

Its all about who gets eligible for the Murukku Pothi, Who wore what saree, etc. Its all about eating variety food 4 times a day for 3 days. It’s all about Nadaswaram guys playing Pink Floyd bits, instead of the traditional “Thayae Yeshodha”, its all about Vadyars, trying to woo more customers while chanting sacred mantras.

“Om Bhoor Bhuvasuvaha” – Cell Rings – “Hello, aa sollungo,” – “Thatsa Vidhur” – OK Nallakku Ganapathy Homam, engae Address – “Bhargo Devassa” – blah di blah. This is how bad it gets.

The Oonjal is one of the most admired ceremonies, where the bride and the groom get to sit on a swing with Madisar Mamis singing some classical numbers. It signifies that the bride and the groom should get the courage to face the UPS and DOWNS of life. Well it all lies in the heart not on a mere swing is my point. The order in which you come and bless the couple for this function, determine the political power you possess in the family. On the other hand, if the bride’s atheys mamis daughter’s maid was missed out by any chance, it creates turmoil.

When two aged and idle-minded Mamis talk to each other by any chance, it ends up in “Nalunku”. The Bride and the groom succumbed to the pressure, ends up in comical acts.

Things got to improve if the insider has to enjoy a typical Brahmin Marriage with all essence. When the Oldies try to throw the flowers hard to bless the couple, which ultimately falls on someone else’s head, why don’t we use Canons lying on display at the Museum for this purpose. When the guests try to sneak in between to hand over gifts which are worthless, why don’t we use a PDA and try to keep a tab of who has given what. When the video wallah tries to capture all functions in his video, why don’t we buy 4 digital cameras, hand it over to 4 teenagers and send one of them to the canteen, one to the stage, one amongst the audiences, and one taking care of young good looking mamis. This can be uploaded to YOUTUBE and can be viewed when required to do so, where as the marriage CD gets viewed only once.

Your views?

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10 responses to “The Unholy Nature of Brahmin Marriages

  1. PERINKOLAM.G.IYER KRISHNAMURTHI

    You could have added more interesting things also,to make it more spicy and interesting.
    I was reminded of a Tamil novel, which came as a serial in,”Ananda Vikatan”(I think,if my memory serves me right).It was written by Saavi.It was very well appreciated by one and all in TamilNadu and in the Tamil-speaking community alover the globe.
    It was the story of a brahmin marriage arranged by the elders. The groom or bride or the uncle of one of them happened to be in US of A. He booked his tickets to come to India participate in the marriage and get back to US of A. Some of his american pals wanted to see a typical Indian(that too South Indian) marriage. At that time Rockefeeller(supposed to be a richest man then) heard about this and he also became interested.But due to his very busy schedules, he could not stir out of his place. So he wanted the marriage to be celebrated in his hometown in US 0f A. So, he undertook the complete expenses of the marriage, including the gold,silver, vessels, murukku,laddoo,mysurpak and al other “seeru”and also the to and fro air fares of all the persons attending the marriage, viz, parents,uncles,aunts,aunties, of the bride and groom, all their other relatives, friends, etc, not to mention about the cooks, purohits, etc. The purohits taking bath in Potomac river and applying holy ash on their foreheads after bath,its appearing more clear when dry, all became talk of the town in Washington DC.
    Even “sambandhy sandai” (the inevitable fight beteween the groom
    s party and bride’s party (when the maama of the grrom felt he was not treated well at a particular fiunction and so he picked up a fight with the bride’s party and threatened to boycott the further celebrations, then the bride’s parents pacifing him, etc) was elaborated well.
    It was published as a book later and sold by millions.
    I think, it came while I was in my II or III year of my course.
    Anyway, it ws good one you wrote.
    Can I expect something on Diwali , or on thalai Deepavali, which comes after the marriage and is an important fumnction for the newly weds.

  2. Its an interesting topic definitely highlighting the hypocrisy surrounding certain customs.But, needless to say, it is a right-of-passage and will invariably become a topic of humor as time goes by(Side seat driving is always good, you see). Where else but in India can one find that the marriage is all about the relatives.The dummy would-be’s are paraded, prodded and poked in every imaginable way with the puppet strings held by all around.

    I always thought the ‘oonjal’ ceremony was some way to keep the bride and groom entertained, especially considering all this originated from child marriages.

    Lets talk about this from a bride’s perspective. I am sure your wife will have lots to say.The embarrassing bargain market parade of the girl,allowing strangers to judge her every move, if she opts to be the goody goody girl allowing her parents to choose the groom? Something that is common in all marriages at varying degrees…the fact that somehow everyone’s perspective changes after marriage. The idea that the girl who up until the day of the marriage was the most suitable,innocent one,over-night inevitably becomes the mature, arrogant ‘kabab-meh-haddi’ of the family.

  3. I think it is time for some of the things to change. One of the key things that I think needs to be modified, according to the modern times, is the Nalunku. I can understand that in the days of child marriages, some games were necessary for the bride and the groom to overcome their shyness with one another. In this day and age, the groom and the bride talk to each other well before the marriage, and even date for a few months. In this scenario, the Nalunku really does not really mean anything for the bride and groom, except serve as an amusement for the “others”. Of course, when was the Indian wedding ceremony about the bride and the groom?

  4. PERINKOLAM.G.IYER.KRISHNAMURTHI

    Seen the views regarding unwanted ceremonies, etc.Nice, yes, we have to change with times,etc.But,bride’s party should not change their views ,when a boy from their family is going to be married. Then, everything will be nice.

  5. Well said .. Most of these ceremonies are intended for child marriage .. Like malai mathal , unjal , Nalungu etc .It feel pity for the old mamas who try to lift their 30 -35 yr old hefty nephews ; just for the sake of maintaining the so called “rituals” .

    The thamizh pudavai mamis will be keen to know if the bride knows to cook , or make rangoli (kolam) , her behaviour and stuffs . But when it comes to their daughter’s case , the answer will be ” My daughter knows everything , but she does not like to do anything ”

    Murukku plays an important role in Brahmin marriages . It is the root cause of all the problems . ” Kerala Lakshmi ” mami (The lady who makes murukku for marriages ) has already constructed 3 – 4 houses in the prime centers , just by selling this Murukku .

    But apart from all these , there are some very good rituals and ceremonies in our marriage that needs appreciation .

  6. Aarthi Paramesh Manikandan

    Good attempt and i do agree that many of the rituals are from the days when the bride used to be a kid and the groom possibly in his teens.
    I feel the purpose of mapillai azhaipu or the parade was to show to the village that ‘ see folks this is the groom, if u know anything adverse about this fella plz let us know’
    In today’s scenario it is a ridiculous tamasha on the road blocking traffic and causing nuisance to others and unneccessary waste of money towards the band baja and the open car.

    Nalangu is to make the bride n the groom to relax and to feel free. Today it is more like the bride n the groom know about each other more than their parents know and still the elderly maami’s and mamas and athais and athimbers of the groom insisting on having it. It is fun at the others expense for them.

    But apart from these social rituals, there a great significance associated with various other REAL rituals whose importance we must appreciate.

  7. Whatever you say about brahmin marriages and rituals… The entire brahmin marriage process is a freaking roller coster ride of emotions right from joy to rejections to anxiety to exhaustion…

  8. Well said…roller coaster of emotions…
    This can also be said for all marriages irrespective of Brahmins or non brahmins – I meant the arranged ones and of course for the bride & groom especially.
    But thinga re slowly changing out… people are tending to give way for pressing matters. This is seen widely in the non-brahmins and slowly entering the brahmin marriages also..

  9. If I had a quarter for each time I came here.. Amazing read.

  10. Incredibly great post. Honest!

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