Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Picking the rituals

Having decided on an Indian wedding, we now had to decide on what wedding rituals would be most convenient and comfortable considering the bride and family were totally new to Indian rituals. As I had written earlier, a truly south Indian wedding is an elaborate affair extending for more than 2 days and long hours of sitting in front of the havan(homam). We were not sure Y and family would be very comfortable doing that. At the same time, since our son wanted an Indian wedding we wanted to include as many South Indian rituals as possible. After long deliberations and Internet searching we decided that an Arya Samaj Wedding would be more appropriate since the wedding rituals included most of the South Indian rituals in a concise manner. It included a havan for a short duration and also a laaja homa. We were in Hyderabad at this time and we wanted to have the wedding in January – February. We got in touch with the Arya samaj at Bangalore. The following are the procedures for conducting a wedding in Arya Samaj style.
  1. First one registers with the local Arya Samaj and pays a registration fee.
  2. An application form to be filled by both the bride and groom and their parents and witnessed by one representative from each side has to be submitted to the Arya Samaj, giving the date and place of the wedding. A sum of Rs. 3000 to be paid as marriage donation.
  3. A notarised affidavit stating that the couple are getting married on their own accord to be submitted.
  4. We may conduct the wedding at any venue.
  5. The Arya Samaj also gives a wedding certificate that may be used to register the wedding in India.
  6. The Arya Samaj wedding rituals last about 90 minutes. If one wants to conduct extra rituals they may be conducted either before or after the arya samaj rituals.

Having decided on the Arya Samaj wedding, we set out getting the forms signed by our son and the bride. We were still in Hyderabad and were planning to reach Bangalore by end November. After having informed all the family members by phone, we set out making plans and schedules and setting time limits. We spent atleast 2-3 hours a day improving on our plans and schedules.

Y was excited about all these elaborate wedding rituals and said she was willing to wear a Mangala Sutra and insisted that she wanted to wear a saree during the ceremony. So I requested my mother who was then staying in Kerala to get a pair of traditional Thirumangalyam done. Having given the order for the most important and auspicious piece of jewellery, we set out planning for other details.

The next was picking the venue. Though there are very spacious and luxurious and sophisticated wedding halls which may cost upto Rs. 2 lakhs per day, one thing we have noticed in most of them was the chaos in the dining and washing areas and the restrooms. Hence we decided that we would conduct the marriage in a hotel, where all the basic amenities would be taken care of. Picking the venue would have to wait until we got back to Bangalore anyway.

We had our friend K pick an auspicious day and time for the marriage.

The guest list was prepared.

The gifts list for the guests was prepared. This took a long time as there were different types of gifts for different sets of people. Starting from the innermost circle of the bride and groom to the outermost circle of all the guests who participated in the wedding it was a large set of concentric circles. Care had to taken not to miss out anyone.

Accommodation for the out-station guests was also an important item. We decided to postpone that until we reached Bangalore.

Regarding the rituals and functions, we wanted to have as many functions as possible but at the same time wanted to restrict them to the ones that Y and her parents would be comfortable with. We did not want to inconvenience them with rituals they were not comfortable with. After all a wedding is an occasion for celebration and not for punishment. For example, Y said her parents may not be comfortable with washing the son-in-law's feet, which is a ritual in our Kanyadhan. Similarly it would have been difficult for them to sit through long hours of havans in the typical Iyer style of wedding. The Arya Samaj style accommodated these requirements.

So we decided that we would have some functions to entertain the guests like a Mehendi for the bride and groom, a get together the previous day at home with lunch and dinner, a small function to gift the bride and groom with the wedding dress and other things in place of Janavasam and Nischayathartham.

And we decided to reach Bangalore well in advance to do the actual preparations for the wedding.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Happy Vishu 2010

Wishing all my readers a happy vishu. May the new year bring you prosperity and happiness.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Back from a break

Hello everyone! It feels nice to be able to greet all my readers after a long time. As many of you had correctly guessed, we were busy with the wedding of our handsome, charming and younger son. It is rightly said in the Tamil proverb, “Kalyanam Panni Par, Veettai Katti par” (Conduct a marriage, construct a house), by the time one gets done with the job, one gets so exhausted one needs plenty of energy boosters to get going once again.

So, it was with lot of excitement and joy that we celebrated the wedding of our handsome and charming son on the 5th February, 2010. To put it in my husband’s own words, it was a truly international event. Owing to its international nature, each ceremony had to be planned carefully, taking into account that the most important guests were new to all this. A lot of thinking and discussions and suggestions went into planning each little event so that all the guests would be most comfortable. As such, a wedding in India is an elaborate and time consuming affair with both the bride’s and the groom’s family planning separate events and ultimately merging on the mega day to make it a grand affair. In our case, since all the arrangements had to be done by us it was even more exhausting.

To begin at the beginning, as all of you know we had been planning to get our son married for sometime now, when he was in India to expand his company’s business. We were not successful in getting a suitable bride for him and in the first quarter of 2009, he returned to the U.S. We were all the more concerned at the turn of events as now we had to look for somebody who would be willing to relocate to the U.S. After a few months of being there, our son called us up one day to say that he had found the right girl for him to get married, if we had no objection in his marrying an American. Our only concern was that the girl should be open to Indian culture considering that our son himself is very strongly rooted in Indian values and culture. He never misses an Indian festival even in America, living alone. He would want to observe all the Indian festivals. Apart from that, if he felt that they are compatible we had no objection. So it went back and forth and the girl had to get her parents’ views about marrying an Indian and in short, it was decided our son would marry Yoshimi, an American citizen of Japanese origin. We would like to have an Indian wedding, said our son. Having read my earlier posts on South Indian wedding, Yoshimi was also very excited in getting married in India. This started the planning for the great event our family held to everyone’s satisfaction.