We now have less than a month left before my brother-in-law’s wedding. Due to various different factors, we decided to have the wedding performed ‘Iyengar’ style, right here at the Aurora temple.
As one would expect, even though we will try to do all the usual wedding stuff, it’s going to be quite impossible to have the grand affair with 500+ people, 2 dozen varieties during lunch, 2 different dozen varieties during reception dinner, all the necessary and unnecessary talking, cross-examining and criticism that is a part and parcel of tambram weddings in India.
I was then tempted to analyze the interesting players in a tambram wedding in India especially the ones who would be missing at this wedding:
Before I start, here is the disclaimer: References to all people in the following paragraphs, living or dead are imaginary and any resemblance to you or anyone you can get offended by is purely coincidental.
- “Pattu podavai Maamis”: The scores of dozens of pattu podavai maamis who characterize every tambram wedding, and set the mood for the occasion. No wedding is wedding enough if there aren’t enough people in pattu podavais(silk sarees). These maamis range from the older maamis who wear the MS blue to the younger maamis who wear the bluish greens and the greenish bluish reds.
- “The Manja pai Maamas” (Yellow cloth bag Uncle): The odd manja pai mamas, whom no one is really sure about which side he was invited by. Usually these poor old men are the kinds who will make sure they bless anyone who asks for their blessings, and they are also the types that get to the mantapam by 6:00, if the wedding starts at 6:30 and then occupy the front row corner seat. They also get very embarrassed if they are ‘gavinichified’ (taken care of by the hosts).
- “Porandhaam Perumai Athais”: These athais (father’s sisters), are a subclass of the “pattu podavai maamis” except they have important roles to play at the wedding and if they are on the groom’s side, are also responsible for keeping the bride’s side on their toes. They are the ones who in-spite of having moved out of their dad’s homes may be half a century ago, talk like ‘enga aathlae andha pazhakkam illai’ and still mean their father’s family.
- “Malai Maathum Munnani Maamas” : These are the maamas who are not really directly maamas, onnu-vitta-maama types, who suddenly, magically appear at the moment of malai maathifying (exchanging garlands) and use all their muscle power to carry the bride and groom during the process.
- “Kaeka-Pikkae ponngal”: All weddings have a group of early-teen girls, the ones who are still progressing from pavadais(skirts) to pavadai-dhavanis(half-sarees). They almost automatically form a group, around the entrance area for panneer thelichifying, and giggle the whole time about something or the other. This group is not to be dismissed as unnecessary and useless, because these same girls by means of a single ‘athattal’ by a senior citizen can go scurrying to get a lot of odd jobs done.
- “Azhukku Veshti Samayal Kaarar Maama” : The most poorly dressed at the wedding. They wear the “azhukest” or dirtiest veshti(dhothi), made so by soot, vada maavu, dosai maavu, molaga podi, thenga, sambar, rasam,.. (actually 4 dozen varieties of food as mentioned in the beginning). It’s a good thing that these mamas do not make a public appearance, else people who usually attend the wedding just for the kalyana sapadu, will most eagerly skip it.
- “Pal Thekadha Server Maama” : These are the maamas who serve food on the banana leaf like an assembly line. They are responsible for pushing huge amounts of food (whether you want it or not), and doing so at such speed, that one can barely figure out the first dish before the next one is already on the leaf. The subcategory of these maamas, who make sure they don a ‘naamam’ before they start their work, but who also appear as if they just got out of bed will most definitely not be missed at the ‘Chicago Thirumanam’.
- “Vethalai Kothappum Server Maama” : Another category of server maamas, are the ones who are usually not in a hurry to push the food on your leaf, but believe in having lengthened conversations with a mouth full of vethalai + paaku + whatever else goes with those two. One would wish that these Maamas, did not make their ‘cowly’ appearance during an excellent kalyana sapadu.
- “The Patient Reception queuees“: These patient people will stand for any length of time to get a 30-second meeting with the bride and groom, in order to be photographed(and later wondered at by the bride and groom for who they must be). Some of them think it is necessary to endure this long wait, just so that they can get rid of the useless gift someone gave them, which they are now trying their best to recycle (pretty much like that cadburys advertisement).
- “Paerukku oru gift Guests”: These are the people, on whom the bride/groom’s parents probably spent Rs.95/- on, but end up getting a gift of Rs.50 in a faded yellow envelope from. How I get to that amount is:
Auto: Rs. 50
Saapadu (1 meal for 2 people): Rs.30(at least)
Vethalai Paaku bag: Rs. 5
11. “Onnu Vitta Whatavar“: The onnu, rendu, moonu vitta maamas, maamis, athais, etc and old old old neighbours of parents, grandparents etc.. who consider your wedding more as an invitation to revisit history and think it is of great interest to you on your wedding to know about all the tricks that he played along with your grand uncle 60 years ago. On a more personal note, they might also tell you how cute you were as a baby and inform you about how much you have grown in the past 20 + years (as if you didn’t know).
12. “Industrial ManCooler Maama”: White shirt, white veshti, speaks Kumbakonamese (a dialect of Tamil that is spoken with 5 betel leaves and 20 ml of runny red liquid stuffed in the mouth), and stands in front of Almonard Fan drying sweat and discusses the next weddings to visit with fellow maamas.
13. “The Disinterested extra yelai”: These are the poor souls who are forced to come to weddings! The type of guys who keep questioning themselves ‘whats the meaning of it all’! the mass of humanity….the blaring speakers crapping out cacophony that noone cares to listen to but want to…the hordes of people fighting for one place at the dining table…the heat… Well at least they kind find solace in the good kalyana sapadu.
14. “The competitive saapatu ramans”: My father reminded me of those over-enthusiastic, ultra-competitive sapaatu ramans who in a crowded marriage will stand right behind you and watch over your leaf as you hurriedly gobble down your thair sadham so that they can sit on your chair the moment you are off it.
These are some categories that are not going to show up at the Chicago Thirumanam. Any more types you can think of?