I had a whirlwind trip to Bangalore over Vishu and as has been happening ever since I started spending more time in Hyderabad, this trip was also very hectic with too much fitted into each day. At the end I was able to finish most of the errands, chores and visits on my schedule and shelved the rest for the next time. More importantly, I was able to meet some old friends (literally) who were living alone and who were really pleased to meet me. I cannot forget what Mrs. Thomas told me when she saw me at her door.”Nobody visits me anymore and hence I was surprised to hear the door bell ringing. I just spend my days all alone moving from one room to another. I am not able to do any cooking also. I get everything from outside” she said. I was glad I made it to meet her.
What was special for Vishu? Well, we had the Kani. For the first time in all these years, I did not cook a Vishu lunch. My brother had invited us for lunch at his place along with my other siblings as he was turning 50 on that day. So I prepared Paladai Pradhaman (Recipe soon) and took it along. We had a sumptuous lunch of Manga Koottan, Erissery, Thoran, Koottu, Pappadam and a simply yummy Palpayasam. I enjoy these rare occasions when I get to eat a lunch I have not cooked. The reason – very simple - As I have not been inhaling the flavor of the various dishes being prepared at the preparation stage, my palate is still fresh to devour the dishes being served and believe me, they taste superb. Especially so when the food is cooked by my mother. In my brother’s house, the lunch was prepared by my mother and my sisters-in-law, who all follow my mother’s method of preparation.
On my return to Hyderabad I had to attend the engagement ceremony of my nephew where I got to meet many of my cousins whom I had not met for a long time. The engagement ceremony or Nischayathamboolam in tambram lingua was a small affair in the olden days. It was only a small function attended by the elders from the bride’s and groom’s family in the presence of village elders. The function was usually conducted in the groom’s house and the bride did not attend this function. The bride went to the groom’s house only after the marriage. The bride and groom had no part to play in the function. This was called vangnischayam or oral commitment by exchanging thamboolam (fruits, mostly the yellow plantain fruit, coconuts, betel leaves and nuts) and was like an assurance by both the families to go on with the other preparations for the marriage. The actual Nischayathamboolam (vedic ritual) is performed on the eve of marriage. These days of course the nischayathamboolam itself is performed in a grand manner with both the bride and groom present in the function with exchange of rings and gifts and followed by a grand dinner or lunch.
In the olden days, once the vangnischayam was over there was no deviation from the promises made by both the parents unless there was a major problem. These days cancellation of engagements is very common. While we were at the function there were stories of cancelled engagements which could have been avoided and the innocent party spared the pain of ignominy associated with it. It would be better for the youngsters to come clean with their parents at the time of agreeing for marriages (even today most marriages are arranged by parents) and to keep up their promise after giving their consent. How does one explain the incidence when the groom withdraws his consent for the marriage the morning after engagement or the bride calling up the groom and saying “I have no intention of living with you after marriage and have agreed with my parents only because of their threat,” and so on? The parents as well as the groom and bride should be very frank when it comes to marriage as it involves another family and set of people who are no party to the other people’s hang-ups and reservations. The parents would do well to have a one to one talk with their children and get their whole hearted consent before agreeing to a marriage with a person of their parents’ choice. The youngsters also should be able to convince their parents of their approval or disapproval of the bride or groom of their parents’ choice and should be bold enough to stand up to their decision so that nobody would get hurt. I really wish parents and children do not put any pressure on each other when it comes to marriage. We'll all be better for it.