"Aana hai bhai. Pakka" Said my friend’s friend as he handed over his marriage invitation magazine.
Yes! With 8 thick glossy leaflets and an overwhelming embossed lord Ganesha on the cover it resembled more like a grandeur magazine than an invitation. Here was this person, just an acquaintance, but too jubilant to invite an extra mouth for a rupees 1200 something per plate event.
I gathered my senses back and reflected upon my friend’s friend’s face. His mouth lay wide open salivating over his wedlock. The pearly white teeth splendidly projected the euphoria into a dazzling smile. "And come along with bhabhi". His face radiated a cunning smile as if he knew something which I am yet to come terms with.
This is why I despise both the invitation and the approcah of invitaion. "Please do come...if you don’t come Ill not marry…without you shaadi nahi hogi…..bla bla bla”
What the nonsense. How on earth my presence or absence makes or mars one’s marriage. Even if I bodily manifest into the ceremony my spirit would hover around rabdi-jalebis but nowhere as an escort for Dulha to the mandap. The courteousness and formality breaches frustrating level when one says “… Bhabhiji ke saath aana”. Damn it you dork, you don’t even know that I am yet to possess a bhabhi…err… a wife , and your confidence doubts my own marital status.
Attending marriage is not a child’s play these days. It involves extensive planning, investing energy, time and financial resources to make successfully into such an event. The whole process from what-to-wear to what-to-gift can be made into a PERT CPM chart like a project management.
However this was not the trend always. When we were kids my father would come home and announce a marriage ceremony he was about to go. Out of three siblings the one whose homework was over would be the chosen one. Mother would comb our hair and dressed us up in clothes earmarked for special occasions. She would wipe our face with the edge of her sari soaked wet in water. A splash of powder on our face stroked gently by her palm and we felt like a complete man, without Raymond. An edge of sari and a rub of hand would do a lot more to lift our spirits that no tissue paper or a face wash could do now. Back then we considered perfumes to be a privilege of adults. But then we knew father would be gracious to part with mild spray like holy asperges. More than the sweet smell the cooling sensation on bare arm would brighten our senses. A smooth pillion ride on two wheeler and lo we were there. I never noticed the groom or bride. Never did I care whether we brought a gift along. I sincerely dedicated my attention on noodles and ice-creams. On wondering whether the waiter carrying a tray full of soft drink glasses would ever reach my side. When he did I laid my hand on the glass full up to the brim. It never mattered whether marriages were slotted in heaven or hell as long as the glass was full.
I think the underlining notion behind attending marriages are still the same only its execution has become a more extravagant.
Blackberrys and Van Heusens are the trend of the day. Gifts like monetary envelopes , Bouquets, a dinner set on sale from Big Bazar or the one gifted once to you, decoratively wrapped gives you an inner line permit up to the stage.
Baraats are recklessly made to detour over an extra mile when the climax can be reached in few yards. A person,possibly mama or chacha of groom, gleefully halts the procession by mindlessly setting the crackers off every time the baraat finds its pace. The gloomy groom, seated atop the motor driven chariot, is put up for public exhibition. An army of depleted veterans whiff their heart out into trumpets as the sound of accompanying generator overpowers them. The site of blowing trumpets among sucked in cheeks and bulging eyes makes you wonder the necessity to call a medical attention before reaching the venue. An assortment of bollywood tunes is unleashed upon the devout dancers. A brazen nagin dance and an occasional fleeting glance towards the groom to exchange an approving smile establishes your undisputed claim on the friendship and the meals thereafter.
The starters are given an equal treatment as the main course. (A noodles counter still attracts as much hits as the blog posts by Purba Ray on A-musing).The interspersed time between the meals finds you over the stage for a post event evidence photograph. The professional friends of bride and groom would pass the session decently with a keep-calm-say-cheese look. But when the more intimate college friends throng the stage every soul living or dead knows who they are. A typical blessing hand over the bride and a devilish V-fingers behind the groom is an all time favourite for the session. A few more intimate friends would seat themselves near his bhabhi-to-be much to the chagrin of groom.
When the crowd recedes back to normalcy the bride and groom are subjected to the artistic liberty of hired photographers. Who leave no stone unturned to proclaim their origin from Paris fashion week. To the amusement and entertainment of paan munching crowds flashes pound over the two martyrs as they haplessly pose to the tunes of DSLRs.
Suddenly a buzzing sound reverbrate the atmosphere…Gosh! they got drones out here!. To novices it may seem a terrorist attack than a pompous show of video recording through toy drones. The stage rises above the head. Large size projectors are all set. A live varmala is a cynosure for all eyes as if its the last they will see.
As my friend’s friend left, I pondered about the unnecessary zeal we Indians attach to a marriage ceremony. The jubilation for the run up to this event surpasses that of a bilateral accord between two hostile nations. Why cant we avoid it? Why can’t we treat marriages as just marriage.
Yes Just a Marriage. The cacophony surrounding a marriage ceremony has sucked the simplicity out of nuptial bondings. On the pretxt of its ones in a life event we have made a keema out of it. But then we don't do a band baja baraat on other one-shot events, say the first date? Why can’t we do something like a ‘Happy Birthday to you’, gather friends, cut a cake , arrange few namkeens and sweet and a piece of cake on a paper plate. Sing a 'Happy marriage to you' in chorus and over. chat mangni pat vyaah. The parents bid good night to the bride and the groom and leave the destiny to decide over happily married or not?
Thankyou for reading