Tuesday, March 15, 2005

From Inside The Garlands - Marriage Blog

9:00 AM [ Muhurtham( 8:00 - 9:30) ] , Lakshmi Hall, Madras

There were around twenty or so ladies standing around me and most of them singing. I could have counted around sixty familiar faces watching me go through the Oonjal part of the 90 minute Muhurtham procedures. These were faces I had grown up seeing. The people the faces belonged to, their personalities and their association with me had been part of my life's infrastructure.

[ During the Oonjal, the Bride sitting on her maternal uncle's shoulders tries to put garland over the Groom, who inturn is sitting on his maternal uncle's shoulders, as he playfully moves away from her. I personally loved this photo because of the smiling faces surrounding us ]

I was told that on the day of the marriage, events would unfold so fast that the main participants wouldn't know what hit them. I was told that everything would be a haze. I can now see why I was told so. But it didn't happen to me. Maybe I tuned myself to this expectation so much that I didn't allow this to happen to me. This 90 minutes was the essense of the marriage and as I looked around -- the laughter and the songs slowly faded away from my ears and I was able to shut them out and slow down the pace. Actually, what was happening was, I was mentally zooming into each face that surrounded me and tried to remember how they looked when I first saw them. The first time I did this, I was so energized that I spaced out. I kept doing the same to every face I saw.

I recommend everybody who is about to get married to do this. Since you are the groom nobody talks to you anyway for those two days so might as well occupy yourself with interesting things. What you are doing is taking stock of your life at a moment that is perceived (more on this below) by the world as a milestone in a person's life. It is amazing to see how people grow over time. I remembered the times I spent with many of them and how we played and ran around as kids in other people's marriage. The marriage halls looked big then, you didn't care whether something was missing from the menu items or if all the guests were being received properly. All you cared about was to have an amazing get together with your cousins and find out if you can now run faster than some of them. These cousins and friends were defined in your mind as " A can paint well, B can run fast, C knows to play 2-cards and A-Spade very well"

That perception changes. Age and time erodes the simplicity and innocence of that perception. Now, during my marriage, when I looked around, A had a big moustache and 2 kids, B was a person who screwed up in studies and is now fighting hard for survival, C was someone who did an inter-caste/inter-religion marriage and half the people did not speak to him/her. I was almost tempted to ask myself "who are these people? where are those kids I grew up with? " . Life's journey is indeed amazing. I still love them all but then the different directions a set of people take in life is often unexplainable. Who you are as a kid is no indicator of what you can become as an adult. The young and middle-aged men I remember from the marriages in the 80's and 90's are now almost greying older people who are walking towards the evening of their lives. For most of them -- their vision, ambitions and to-do lists have been validated. The young cool guys are now old fathers with responsibilities. Girls who were babies or kindergarten students are now beautiful young ladies, now talking amongst themselves about other boys in the wedding. When you compare across such a big timeline you tend find that the contrasts are bigger and sharper. Although, I had some wild times and great fun as a kid, when I looked at these people at the moment of my marriage, I felt a sense of regret that my childhood did not last just a little bit more longer. The innocence with which we perceived others as a kid was more sweeter and much better than the prejudices that seems to grip a person as they get older.

To be honest, marriage as an independent event, has not drastically changed my life. Emotionally, I perceive the world the same way as I did some 30 days before. I feel no change. My life has not been drastically altered. I do not feel flutters or butterflies in my stomach. I do not feel the weight of anything or anyone on my shoulders. It has not (yet) cramped my lifestyle. I also do not feel a sense of graduation or believe I have crossed a significant milestone. This is true. I was told all the above would happen. But it has not. I guess all the above is said as a result of a retrospective view. A hindsight that people get years after marriage. So the best I can say is -- I may feel some of the above many years later. I was forewarned, soothsayed, advised that I would mutate ( I was tempted to use "metamorphasize" ) into a completely different cell based organism after marriage. This almost guranteed prediction has not (yet) happened. The emperor is not wearing new clothes ( but at the same time ain't naked).

Having said that and at the risk of appearing to contradict the second sentence of the previous paragraph, the marriage journey has been emotionally satisfying. I am not talking about the long journey of two people after marriage but rather during it. The events and the (rather huge) gathering of people gave me an opportunity to take stock of the changes that had happened to my life since childhood until the point of my marriage. I was thankful for the great attendance and gathering this occasion made possible. I got to meet my father's school teacher and his school friends at the same time. That to me was nice.

Before I set out on the Kasi Yatrai ( which is where I am supposed to renounce my car, stereo system, TV, amazing CD collection and other wordly things and set out to lead life as a hermit) the bride's mother was supposed to put that mascara thing on my eye. This led to some really funny scenes. My eyes are.. lets say... "rather" small and I am extremely sensitive in the eye area and tend open and close it wildly when doctors try to come near it. So the poor lady ( who was already a little shaken by the way my relatives were laughing and whistling) repeatedly tried to get her hand close to my eye and I kept pushing her away and kept looking the other way. Finally she locked on the target ( and some surrounding areas) and applied the payload. I then set out on the Kasi Yatrai and thankfully my Father-in-law dissuaded me from going. He struck a deal that he would marry his daughter to me, if I chose to be a non-hermit (non-sanyasi). I said " oh! Well! Why not? " :-). Many people thought he was out of his mind to call me back. I let out a sigh of relief. Have never been to Kasi and don't know what entertaintment sanyasi's get. I love my stereo system so much

This was the occasion, where at the end of this Oonjal Phase, the bride is asked to hold all the fingers of her right hand together and make them face upward. The groom then wraps his right hand around her fingers and leads her to the marriage hall for the more important marriage formalities. This is "supposed" to be the first time the groom touches the bride.

As I was taking her back into the marriage hall, I looked at the road, where buses cars and cycles were speeding. Some people were looking at the occasion and talking to themselves, some in the bus gave a non-chalant look and went about reading their books etc. This is a big Highway where I travelled for 3 years until high school. I have seen this exact Oonjal moment during marriages hundreds of times. Many times, I didnt even give a second look. I was rushing for my mid-terms, half-yearly and public exams or at least had some record notebook to fill. I suppose at any given time, life could mean different things to different people. One day you are crying nusiance kid to your parents and one day you are the main guy, the groom and their darling. One day a person could be a failure whom nobody wants to talk to and some day he could be too busy to even watch a wedding from the road. people go through different states over time, much like the circles in a state machine diagram. I smiled to myself at the the prospect of some tuition going kid rushing for his class in a bus and non-chalantly dismissing my marriage as a noisy distraction. Next time I'll remember to stop and watch a wedding, just to remember, how I felt when my turn came.


deep said...

v.well written

uRmad said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
uRmad said...

Amazing post !!! First time here and this post (only one i've read here so far) sure is gonna make sure i stick around....Helluva way you put language to the emotions :) Have a gr8 married life....Best wishes

paromita said...

fun read...have a rocking married life..;)

Dushyant said...

Really well expressed.Keep IT up (the writing,that is.)

single-woman said...

Well, thats a funny site!

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Valli Doll said...

Somebody here wants u to register in a site, when u are already married? LOL!

This post was well said. And I do remember what happened during my oonjal too :) Not as hazy as ppl predicted it would be.