Thursday, March 31, 2016

A MALAYALI WEDDING IN TAMIL NADU

I’m going to start this post with a quick lesson in Southern Indian geography for any one listening in at home. India, much like the US, is divided into various states; the two southern most states being Kerala (on the west coast) and Tamil Nadu (on the east coast). Unlike the US, each state has its own language and cultural nuances. In Kerala the language spoken is Malayalam with a Malayali cultural divergence; in Tamil Nadu the language is Tamil with a Tamil cultural divergence. The wedding I attended this past weekend happened right on the southernmost border of the two states; thus a Malayali wedding in the state of Tamil Nadu.

As a result of this border-riding wedding, there were aspects of both cultures throughout the wedding. I will give a brief order of events throughout the day as well as a few anecdotal comments, but most of this post will be photos.

My party and I arrived early at the church venue the morning of the wedding. Not knowing exactly what was going on, I wandered around taking photos and entertaining guests with my white skin and blonde hair. Soon enough Sobah, the bride, arrived with her entourage of people who quickly escorted her off to the side of the church; however, not before allowing her to greet the token white girl (for which I felt very honored). Sunil, the groom, arrived within ten minutes with his entourage of people.

The church venue

Sobah and her family arriving at the church
Apparently not everyone was thrilled about attending a wedding on this Monday morning! ;) 
Sunil arriving, flanked by his two sisters and their children.
What happened next, as far as I can tell, was a cultural gesture of agreement between the two families. Sobah’s family gathered to the left of the church yard while Sunil’s family gathered to the right. When given the signal, both families converged in the center as Sunil exchanged a handshake, bouquet, and of course his infectious smile with the bride’s family. After this, Sobah’s family brought her to Sunil and the two of them together entered the church with the guests closely following behind.

The exchange
The groom looking rather dapper as he awaits the presentation of his bride. 
My new friend, Jacob, Sunil's nephew. 
After we had all taken our seats, the ceremony commenced. Save for two of the nine (yes, nine!) songs that were sung, the whole ceremony was in Malayalam so I had no clue what was said or going one. It wasn’t too hard to figure out the general format as it seemed to be fairly similar to many of the weddings I’ve attended in English. At the end of the ceremony, the guest left the church the new couple at the alter with the officiants, family, and photographers. I sneaked myself up to the front and covertly began to take my own photos, trying not to get in the way of the official photographers. After about ten minutes, the official photographer stepped aside and gestured for me to take his spot at front and center. Apparently I wasn’t as covert as I had thought I was, nevertheless I was delighted for the chance to get some closer photos. I began to shoot, and almost immediately met with shaking heads, fingers and “no’s.” Wondering what I had done wrong, I sheepishly began to back away until I realized that feeling the scene was causing even more commotion. Confused and mildly frantic I looked towards Samson who had joined me to take photos. He smiled, shook his head, laughed, and interpreted their words, “No, they want you in the photo!” Yeah, not covert at all. I obliged them, yet not without some embarrassment.

The new couple with the officiants.

I promised I would post the picture with my full saree... so here it is. (Hair "open" and all) 
With Sunil's mother and sister with her children
Sunil's eldest sister with her daughter, Jessica.






The beautiful bride
Sunil looking sharp (and serious)
Off to the first reception!
From the church, we all headed to the first of two receptions: the bride’s reception. I guess technically it would be the groom’s reception as it was the party hosted by Sobah’s family to receive Sunil into their family with their friend’s present. Sunil and Sobah sat on the front stage while clusters of the bride’s family and friends came up to offer their gifts and well-wishes. An incredible, multi-course banquet served on banana leaves was held in the adjacent room after guests had met with the bride and groom. I stopped keeping track of time somewhere earlier in the week, so I have no clue how long this lasted, but I would venture to guess we ended up leaving there sometime around 2pm.
The second of the two receptions was hosted nearby our hotel (and Sunil’s home) at around 6pm. This reception was put on by Sunil’s family to offer their friends and family the opportunity to receive Sobah into their lives. The format was similar. The new couple sat on the fanciful couch, shook hands, and posed for countless photos with all the guests who then later filed into the adjacent hall for another banquet meal. So much amazing food! I only wish I had a little more appetite when presented with the food from each wedding feast.  

At the beginning of the first reception, the bride and groom were served a small token meal.


The CMC people representing! (L to R: Samson, never did catch this guy's name, Noble, Sunil, Sobah, Ashwin, Sneha)
Sunil and his bride with a good friend of Sunil's who traveled from Chennai for the wedding.
The first feast! (Sorry for the poor photo quality, lighting wasn't my friend in that room).
At the second reception. (Note the change of attire. Sobah's saree was incredible!) 
If Sunil doesn't watch out, this little charmer is going to steal is bride away!

The CMC gang at the second reception.
Sunil's sister with her son, Jonah. (I think that's his name... my memory is slipping)
I have no idea who these cuties are, but we entertained each other at the second reception. 
Sunil's beautiful family and then there is me. 
It was such an honor to be a part of this wedding day! To Sunil and Sobah, thank you so much for the opportunity to celebrate your union. I wish you both many years of happiness together. 

1 comment:

  1. It was nice to have you to be a part in me wedding and the subsequent receptions. Thank you fit coming and fit the well wishes.

    ReplyDelete