Usha's son's wedding has prompted me to write this post. I had read somewhere that there is no restriction regarding marriage dates in Karnataka. Unlike in other parts of India where you cannot get married in certain months! This is a significant fact for me because my house overlooks a marriage hall, which also holds other get togethers and students' convocations, but chiefly it is a popular venue for marriages and I have had a birds eye view of all the fun and frolic of marriages in Bangalore for the past so many months and there are loads and loads of stories to tell. The marriages announce themselves with the playing of drums and a shehnai like instrument with the typical carnatic flavour to it. The moment we hear such sounds we used to rush to the balcony and I am happy to say that I got a good glimpse of all the couples who took the plunge at this venue. About twenty or so in the past 6 months! Now we don't hurry at the sound of drums and bugle, we say stuff like, "oh the groom must have arrived" we know that the welcome ceremony will take sometime. An umbrella will be arranged for, trays full of haldi kumkum and sundry other welcome material will be employed so there is no hurry. After the puja the couple comes out and they have some ceremonies in the open when a coconut is broken by the bride's brother, I guess, its better fun to watch that! The brides here are very bold wearing really low backed blouses! Bengali brides would look conservative compared to brides here with their veils! Once I saw a guest with her entire back exposed right till her waist piping the bride to the post! The elaborate flowers worn on the head ofcourse seems quite heavy. Once I saw a bride all decked up in the morning head gear and all, it looked as if she had a long plait. In the evening she was about in a beautiful salwaar kameez and bobbed hair, having got rid of the heavy flowers! Needless to say I get to see a veritable fashion show of the finest kanjeevaram saris and saris that I don't even know the names of ! I like how the men and children are turned out too but the women are the best!
There are a few north south alliances too. The first one I witnessed was quite entertaining. Since 7 in the morning the carnatic stuff was playing. Suddenly at about 12 there was a ear splitting din- the baraat had arrived! Eveyone in our house was out. The bride's party, a few elderly people amongst them, were standing on the steps of the hall in open mouthed horror as bedecked women and men contorted in punjabi dance steps in front of the loud band. It was great to watch the expressions on the south Indian group. I witnessed some change also proof of how Bangalore is increasingly getting used to such alliances. The first groom could not manage to get a horse where as the last one I saw was on one and the bride's family were enjoying the hullabaloo of the baraat.
The other day I was surprized to see that more than 40% of the groom's welcome party comprised of foreigners. There was a gentleman in a beautiful kurta with a garland standing awkwardly at the foot of the stairs. When the groom arrived some south Indian ladies did the traditional stuff and one of the ladies directed the gentleman to put the garland on the groom. I thought how nice that the bride's party is letting the foreigners get involved in the ceremonies. Later I found that the bride was a foreigner! At the end of the function I saw her resplendent in red with elaborate flowers in her hair chatting with her brothers/colleages/friends. The Indian bride would have been stuck next to the husband after the ceremony, here was a bride free of such cultural obligations, laughing and enjoying her own wedding day. Indian brides can only remember how tired they were on their wedding day!