Sunday, 27 November 2011

The Big Fat Indian Wedding

      Indian weddings, as a rule, are loud, ostentatious affairs. Women in expensive silk sarees wear copious amounts of gold jewellery just to flaunt their wealth. The speaker system is set at a volume that ensures a sleepless night to the entire neighbourhood. The Indian wedding has nothing subtle about it; it is larger than life in a unique way.

      Observing people at Indian weddings is a study in the art of duplicity. The uber realistic fake smiles, the innocuous sounding veiled barbs, the affected largesse of the miserly uncles may bewilder the newbies on the Indian wedding scene who are not privy to the undercurrents of this social situation. The whole exercise reeks of one-upmanship and an overwhelming need to establish one's superiority - economic and otherwise. . 

      Indian weddings are largely a feminine domain, the male participation is usually limited to finances, planning, the groom and the priest. The men of the bridal party are seen running frantically sorting out problems that inevitably arise everywhere from the pantry to the groom's bathroom. The male relatives of the groom are seated closest to the ceremony and are pestered by the bridal party every few minutes seeking to display their hospitality by offering them beverages or food.

      The men, who are unfortunate enough to be dragged to these events as guests, are usually found trying to catch up with old acquaintances shouting to be heard over the cacophony of the ceremony, gambling away a full weeks pay with other equally compulsive gamblers or trying seconds of every dish at the buffet. The younger men form a posse and start ogling their decked out counterparts of the opposite sex.

     The older women generously compliment each other on their sarees, jewellery and then move on to exchange gossip. Jane Austen wrote, "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." That was the mindset of ninteenth century English women; it is the mindset of twenty first century Indian women. I was at a wedding reception a few weeks earlier. For the first time in my life, at that wedding reception, I felt the speculative eyes of a couple of middle aged aunties pass over me. I felt like "the Empress of Blandings" (yeah..... Wodehouse) being appraised at a show. Even with my looks, I am apparently a catch, I was told later.

       I, like most men, want to stay a million miles away from a wedding. If my mom hadn t insisted on going, ( I am constitutionally incapable of saying NO to my mom ) I wouldn t be caught dead in the general area of any wedding, much less attend one. It isn t the migraine inducing sound, the stomach churning food, the patent falsity of the smiles or the condescending attitude of the people that is off putting. It is the unholy combination of all these and an inescapable feeling of being judged that causes me to run a mile at the mere mention of a wedding.

      Then again... In a few years when I get married (hopefully to someone great), I want my wedding to be bigger, better and totally Indian; not some staid and boring affair but a celebration without reserve, pretense or apology.

1 comment:

  1. a celebration without reserve, pretense or apology- you have a way with words