Saturday, August 07, 2010

On Marriage Invitations

You would imagine that inviting someone for an event would be a matter of inviting someone for that event. And that the person being invited is attending the event because they genuinely like you and all that they are looking for from the invitation is the date, location and time of the event. This kind of expectation is limited to only those people, who have been with you during the most key moments of your life. Such people probably supported you without question in some crisis or other. You might even call them one of the most important people in your life. Then comes the other 99% of the people, you call 'Dhoorathu sondham' - who S. Ve. Sekhar in '1000 Udhai vaangiya aboorva sigamani' very subtly refers to as 'OOOho Kazhutharappaa'. This category makes you realize that there is inviting and then there is innnnnnviiittting. How do you show someone that they are very very special (in fact more special than Laxman) and that you badly badly want them to come to your occasion. Much more importantly, how do you satisfy people who think they are very very special and deserve something more than just an invite.

Exit the sane idea of a simple phone call to tell the invitee about date & time of the event. Enter the multi-layered invitation process. The parent of the bride calls this person over the phone and lets them know their daughter is getting married and that an invitation is on the way. Then the actual invitation is sent "cordially inviting" this person. But a bland invitation won't do. So a post-it note is stuck inside asking the person to consider this "as a personal invitation" and attend. 1 week after the invite is sent , a confirmation phone call is done to ask if the invitation was received and reminding them that they should certainly attend. Then there is this whole category of "personal invite" which is more personal than the "personal invite" post-it stuck on what was already a personal invitation. This is to show that the invited person is not just very very very special. But very very very very very special. So armed with a blouse piece, shirt-bit and teeny-weeny sized pot of kungumam, the parents of the bride rent a call-taxi and go on an inviting spree to meet the invitees directly and plead them to come and attend. This extreme personal invite is to guard against people who give statements like "but it was the postman who invited me and I don't know him well enough"

The invitation process reminds one of what happens in the actual marriage. No, I am not referring to the 2-day silk-saree, gold jewellery and padmanabhan samayal extravaganza. This is the one where the bride and groom really do the work of saying the vedic mantras to actually get married. The priest - if he is from a non-vaikanasa agama school - asks the groom to prefix every mantra - that ends with 'swaaha' and ghee being poured into fire - with "idhanna muh-ma". It means "I am not doing this for my sake" (but for your sake! god). Most grooms who did not fall into the conveniently lazy 'maadern' concept of "I yam spiritual but not religious" would have to actually say this phrase N-1000 times in 2 days. They have to say it so many times that the words replay in your dreams for at least a week. At some point the ritual, priest and the groom get so paranoid that the groom is saying "in case you had any doubt god.. this is not for me". to be followed up with "in case you had doubts after the last time i suspected you of having doubts.. please understand that I am not doing this for me" and a few thousand times later says "if after the 6000 times of saying so - in case you had any doubts - this is not for me".

The bride's father is very similar to the groom here. After inviting people so many times, he has to continue inviting them even after they have actually arrived at the wedding. The saaraya baattil groom may have claimed to be "modern" or "progressive" or "broad minded but spiritual" and would claim that he is "not interested in the archaic rituals and superstitions of the religion". They may even say that "as long as the mind is sincere and honest" everything is just awesome. The groom's family are so modern that they may cut budget by reducing 5 priests to just 1 and 10 rituals to just 2. But that does not mean the bride's family should stop inviting people after the marriage has begun. The people who come for Jaanvasam need to be invited again with "vaango! vaango" and when they leave they need to be given a verbal evite-reminder of "please come for muhurtham and reception also".

Like S. Ve. Sekhar prophesizeed before "thalaivar spelling mistake panna kooda thanakku rs 10,000 laabam vara madhiri dhaan pannuvar". The groom's family may be modern enough to let saaraya bottil have a bachelor pary in a bar near the mandapam but they aren't about to forget the age-old ritual of sixty thousand invitations to the same three people, Rs 10,000 for "reception dress" and 50 pounds of gold hanging on the bride's body. You can't cut any of this and file it under the "spiritual but not religious" account by saying "I have a sincere thought in my mind to give you 50 pounds of gold as dowry but I can give only Rs 3" . Doing so would make the groom's family barbaric.

So the same set up of people are invited by the hosts over and over again for the next 2 days. The are invited to the actual wedding hall, to the kitchen, dining room, beeda stall, ice cream stall, thengai room, maangai room, seer varusai room, bathroom, electrical room, until they have been given the vetthalai paaku and sent out. Because these very very special people are the 'kavari maan'. They get offended at the slightest hint of invite-packet drop. They are sure to call and remind next day that "one coffee was not given" or "that man forgot to invite me for the 60th time". The host's family have only one opportunity to get back. That is when an invited person does not show up and does not even do a "vijaarikarthukku" phone call. Then it is payback time.


Anonymous said...

very good cousin's husband did not show up for my wedding, my cousin told me that my dad did not greet him enough when he entered. Considering, i worked 3 days at their wedding, i was pissed at the stupid reason he gave me...

B o o. said...

*stands up and applauds* What a post, Hawkeye! appadiye en vayatherichala neenga kottiteenga! :)

Sreekrishnan said...

Thats what you are when you write "modern family with traditional values". whatever that means. Thats like a Catch phrase.

"our daughter is a modern girl [LOL] with traditional value"

"our family is modern, outgoing and broadminded with traditional values intact"

"Our Son is very Broadminded and fun to be with, but values our culture and tradition a lot"

Then there are girls who call themselves outgoing when you befriend them, talk well, goes out with you and says "I know you better than that"..but when you talk about marriage says "my family wouldnt agree".

I guess thats what it means when they say "modern with traditional pinch"

The tag "modernaavthu Mayiraavthu" is just enough for me to appreciate the post !

Anonymous said...

You have a contradiction here..continuing from the arguments on krish ashok's post. Because you have implied the redundancy of the multiple invitations and have also compared the multiple invitations to the multiple recitals of the traditional wedding, doesn't it imply that the multiple recitals in a traditional wedding are redundant? This could then imply that one can be selective in following tradition in as arbitrary a way as one chooses!
Really couldn't resist/help commenting on this... not intended to be provocative:)))

I said...

Spiritual but religious oda indha atheists tholla thaanga mudiala. Thulasi chedi vekkadhavan ellam atheist. 'I am atheist, I am atheist' nu blog-le, orkut/Facebook profile-le potuka vendiadhu. How brave!

nithya said...

Great post! resonates with any tambram who has been part of a wedding as the ponnaathu side.

SathyaRam said...

i think you have gone through every bit of TamBram life have forgotten to add the name/titles/also invited by etc. in the wedding invitation.........

sundar said...

Spot on with the invitation process and the associated social obligatory crap! - most of the readers here (including myself) can personally relate to what you say :). although your dig at the 'maadern, spiritual but religious groom' is contradictory, as the anon above points out. I think you are just mocking the stereotypes on either side (tradition/maadern).:))

ms said...

how many wedding invitations announce marriage of:

our god's gift son
WITH (not TO)
innocent pure daughter of....

who will tell them you get married "to" and not "with"?

and the RSVP drama: who makes it to the list and who doesn't.

haven't come across the promised "simple wedding" yet

Hawkeye said...


i think people who claim to be modern or atheist are given too much benefit of doubt in terms of their adherence to antiquated beliefs. Their 'rationalistic' beliefs only exist only as long as there is no financial or status loss to them.

I am pointing out the contradiction in that category when they chose to leave out rituals that they consider meaningless in a specific domain but continue with meaningless rituals that have material benefits to them.


/* doesn't it imply that the multiple recitals in a traditional wedding are redundant? This could then imply that one can be selective in following tradition in as arbitrary a way as one chooses! */

this conclusion has a serious falalcy given that I did not say what you assume I have said in the krish ashok post

AJ said...

Invitation part is very true...hope the current generation dont carry this legacy forward :)
Guess.. inviting for the Food, especially if he is not there in the "mudhal bandhi" is also a serious offence against the "kavari maan".. :)

Harini said...

Inda 'traditional yet modern' nu sollaravangala patha pathikitu varudhu!...You are either traditional or modern..idhu enna traditional yet modern! Maha mokkaya irukku....

Plus ella Tamizh kalyanathilayum atleast oru 'kavari maan' aadhu irukanum!

Maatuponnu said...

Super post tag - modernavadu mayiravadhu! The traditional yet modern thing - 'our son is broad-minded with traditional values' seems to be the Tamil matrimony catchphrase these days! My friend and I were having a discussion about this - does this phrase imply that they do Sandhyavandhanam thrice a day but are also social bottle-walas? Or does it mean that they are 'broad-minded' enough to dispense with Sandhyavandhanam but traditional enough to not have anything alcoholic except soma baanam? Maybe a post in this regard is in order :D

Anonymous said...

Lovely post Hawkeye!

Rastafari said...

Thala, was expecting you to rip apart the style and content of present day invitations

Anonymous said...

On the objections to traditional yet modern - how else do you want to call a traditional ponnu saying slogam in pants?

Hawkeye said...


i generally reconfirm to such high maitainence people that they are not invited :-) landed me in trouble several times.


thanks boo :-)


/* Then there are girls who call themselves outgoing when you befriend them, talk well, goes out with you and says "I know you better than that"..but when you talk about marriage says "my family wouldnt agree". */

i'd rather have traditional girls date and reject men based on 'family acceptance' rather have misplaced loyalty, commit to the first man they go out with.


its incredible how many people
advt their atheism. they remind me of school children who say ' i am god fearing' just to be considered by lady teachers as a good boy.


not just tambram. this is applicable india-wide, in fact world wide




i have seen simple weddings. they are indistiguishable for non-simple ones. all the 'complexity' happens behind the scenes.


the second gen will totally carry it forward. you have no idea on thee number of readers who disagree with the blog and think multiple invitations to same person is a good courtesy.


when they say 'traditional' and 'modern' they mean

'traditional' = girl's family inferior, dowry mandatory, thalai deepavali seer mandatory. will pray to god to pass in exam. follow caste system.

'modern' = lazy. wont do any ritual sandhi -> tharpanam - basically anything that requires money time work and dedication.

a combination of both is meant to give you benefits of doing rituals w/o actually doing the rituals. things like "manasula irundha porum" augument the belief.




thats a big postu ba


you are interpreting it too literally. better than saying it w/o pants and better than not saying it at all. my cousins do sandhi in arai-drowser. both are not 'traditional' dhaan. hopefully they will move towards the right end of the spectrum in baby steps.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Pipa said...

i'd rather have traditional girls date and reject men based on 'family acceptance' rather have misplaced loyalty, commit to the first man they go out with.

edhu 1/100 vaarthai, reason to visit this blog from time-to-time.

Anonymous said...

Now I finally figured out why father doesn't attend a single event in a wonderful lineup for Madras month but goes to some obscure wedding in the family ...

Mr.muthiah, V.sriram and the organizers didn't personally invite him you see but these folks came home to invite him...

Nambo oor in 2010.... chance'a illa..