Mumbai Memoir 45- A big fat Mumbai wedding!
India is known for its colourful traditions, culture & spirituality. Wedding seasons in India are best time to know the flavours of India on all fronts. The costumes, the food, the traditions and the emotions that ooze out from such social event is nothing less than a cultural tour.
Recently I witnessed the wedding of my cousin Sneha. A Visual Merchandiser by profession, Sneha’s marriage too was nothing less than a visual treat! Both Sneha and her husband Ritesh being Maharashtrians (natives of Maharashtra state of which Mumbai is its capital city), the marriage followed a Marathi trend.
The first event I attended was the ‘Haldi’ ceremony. It is a pre-wedding function, where turmeric paste is applied to the bride’s body parts (face, hands, foot). This traditional custom has multiple symbolism associated with it. The yellow colour of the turmeric is considered to be auspicious and by smearing it on the bride’s body, abundant prosperity & marital bliss is wished for the bride and groom in a fun-filled manner. Other rationale behind ‘haldi’ ceremony is purely cosmetic. Turmeric being a good exfoliating agent which improves blood circulation and also makes the skin glow, it’s application is believed to help the bride and the groom to be in the best of their physical appearance on their ‘special day’. Every ‘Haldi’ event ripens into a fun sport where turmeric paste is smeared on faces of visiting guests, especially single friends and siblings of bride/groom, wishing them good companions in times to come!
Dance, music and good food is always part of every Indian wedding. After a long time, it was nice to see guest dancing on the tunes of raw folk music at an urban location like Mumbai! Such dance and music sets the wedding mood for all who look forward to socialize and enjoy the event. Few married women refresh their set of green bangles’ by inviting a bangle vendor to reload their wrists by a brand new set of bottle green colour bangles (symbolic of prosperous married life).
Sneha’s wedding day morn was full of hustle bustle. The muhurat (auspicious time when blessings are showered with holy Hindu chants echoing in the background) was on 20th Dec’15 at 12.09 noon. Wearing a yellow saree the bride arrived at the ceremony in a palanquin, followed by her bridesmaids, who were decked up in traditional Maharashtrian ‘Nav-vari’ saree (9 yard saree). As the chants concluded, guests blessed the couple by showering raw rice granules on the head of the bride and the groom, which is symbolic of wishing prosperity & resourceful start to their companionship life. Here is an audio link of the marriage chants in Sanskrit language which is heard at every traditional Marathi marriage ceremony: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkgsC90zlKQ
Once the bride and the groom placed floral garlands around each other’s neck, the marriage was formally accomplished. The guests then wished the couple and offered gifts. Meanwhile it was a great experience for me to catch up with my extended families and friends. We posed for photographs, took selfies, got nostalgic and shared quality time. With Mumbai’s life getting busier and swift, it becomes difficult to even catch up with all on virtual mediums like Whats App and Facebook, but at the wedding it was obvious that everyone was enjoying by connecting with each other in real time and space, for a change!
Every family has their own customized rituals and style of conducting a marriage ceremony. Today’s generation of youngsters are very rational & sceptical in pursuing age old traditions of one’s culture. Most of the educated youngsters these days are preferring to anyways go with the traditions, just for fun, to begin with. This I guess, is a world-wide trend. I highly recommend you to see this video link of how, like Sneha, a Marathi couple from San Francisco, U.S.A choose to enjoy their wedding as per Maharashtrian Indian tradition https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMUehRvVC5Q
I believe, so long as the bride and the bridegroom are happy marrying each other, and so are their families happy to bond & expand their kith and kin, rest all is secondary. Today, the new & empowered generation is smart enough to know that instead of debating on the validity of the age old traditions, what is more important is starting on a positive foot and further maintaining the bond of love & companionship throughout the thick and thin of life!
Best wishes to Sneha & Ritesh for a happy married life!
Photos Credits: Swapnil Amberkar & Shraddha Sankulkar. Special thanks to Siddhesh Sankulkar for technical support.