The moment I entered matrimony

Have you ever got a chance to attend a South Indian Wedding? That too a Tam-Brahm (Tamil Brahmin) one? My husband had to put some extra effort to enter into the bond of matrimony with me. Seriously! The line of demarcation between the ‘single’ and ‘married’ marital statuses of the souls in question is the tying of the turmeric coated sacred thread with a gold locket a.ka. the thaali a.k,a mangalyam a.k.a mangal sutra around the girls neck by the groom. This is done while the bride sits on her father’s lap, a custom that came into force when child marriages were the order of the day. Whats the big deal holding a nine or ten year old on your lap? Well, we still follow this custom and the poor dads still have to bear the entire weight of their daughter while the latter happily enters wedlock. Of course, on a sentimental note it’s a special thing for both daughter and dad. There is an auspicious time that is decided by the priests and that appears as ‘Muhurtham’ on the wedding invitation. The above mentioned ceremony has to happen within that time if the pair were to lead a good life together. Disclaimer: This no way prevents the wreaking of absolute havoc in each others otherwise peaceful lives hi hi hi hi (To be read with Bollywood villain  effect) The girl would be in a normal six yard saree for most of the marriage ceremonies. For this thali-tying she has to get into the nine yard saree otherwise called the madisaar. Similar to the six yards, this is also just a cloth but relatively longer and a little more complicated to wrap around. Tamil Brahmin girls wear this for the first time in their lives during the wedding. Otherwise only married women are supposed to wear it. The muhurtham will usually be   an hour, in our case 7:30 to 8:30 am. After various rituals and ceremonies, at around 8:20 the nine-yard saree will be given to the bride. The priest will tell the other women, ‘You have  five mins’ That translates to ‘The thali tying has to happen before 8.30 at any cost. So you have to get her ready in 5 mins’. Then – its rapid fire. The women will rush the girl to the dressing room and while she stands like a mannequin, the ladies will wrap the saree around her. ‘Fast, fast, its time for the muhurtham’. ‘Pull this flap , it will come correctly’ ‘Leave that fold as is’…Like this, the girl will hear a lot of dialogues and before she realizes what happens, the women tie the traditional saree around her with a speed that would put Usain Bolt to shame. In my case, there was one more dialogue ‘Jayashree, do you know? All the girls for whom I tied the bridal madisaar successfully conceived and gave birth to a son before their first anniversary. That’s my raasi.(good luck). ‘ one of my aunts quipped.’OOPS’ I thought! The women are so adept at what they do, this whole thing is completed in less than 5 mins as instructed. They either tie it the way it has to be tied, or manage to reach the closest resemblance and quickly bring the bride back to the dias at around 8:25 with five mins to spare before the stars move to some other position. They just make sure that the girl does not trip on her way. Poor us, the brides will be in it for the first time in our lives and will be walking with a duck-stride for the rest of the ceremony and its really funny, believe me. While they march her back, they would tell the girl ‘Look at your husband’s face when he ties the knot and pray to the Almighty’. In addition to this they give one more advice – To hold on to the thali while its being tied and place it at a comfortable position on the chest so that it does not go way high up when the groom ties the knot and become like a choker necklace. I am not sure if I followed the first two of the advices. This last one, I took to heart. Within a few seconds I was seated on my father’s lap. Someone did the trademark shaking-of-index-finger indicating the musicians to play the Getti Melam, a tune usually played during the important events in any ceremony which they promptly did. This fast rhythmic note filled the length and breadth of the marriage hall. The entire audience stood up ready to shower the blessings on us in the form of turmeric coated rice and flowers which would have already been distributed. The priest said some mantras and it was THE MOMENT. My husband tried to tie the  knot AND….. The two ends of the thali would not come close to each other at all. Then how was he supposed to tie a knot. He tugged at it confused. Here I was, strictly adhering to instructions and tightly holding on to the thread for life. So tightly and so low, that I did not leave any amount of allowance for the actual purpose it was supposed to serve. ‘Leave it ma’the priest said. ‘Leave a little’ someone else said. By now I was following the first two instructions as well, looking at my husband’s(not yet actually at that point in time) face and putting on the best expression of girl getting married. ‘Leave it Jayashree’ a whole lot of voices screamed. That’s when I realized what I was doing and let go a little. After all this confusion my man tied the knot with some extra effort as I mentioned earlier and Phew! We got married! Later we realized that he had tied the knot twisting it around the garland on my neck. In all my marriage photos taken within an hour after I became Mrs.Vats, (that is the above thali tying) I would have the expression of the ladies in pain balm ads while my mother and sister-in-law played around with the garland and somehow managed to untangle it! That’s how I proudly entered into matrimony! 😀

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