Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Money Money



A big fat Indian Wedding is all about money honey. The more you splurge the more you wish you could.

I am all for traditions and customs, but it hurts me immensely to see loads of money going down the drains for getting a lavish wedding set up. A simple wedding, with some close friends and family, around a sumptuous lunch or dinner would any day make much more sense.

While I also agree that this wedding propoganda actually also supports a whole industry and creates a lot of money making options. But think of a middle class family, who have saved day by day to create a decent bank balance. And here comes a daughter's wedding and the bank balance goes into a depleting spiral.

In North India, the give and take of gifts has also reached an unacceptable limits. All this adds up to the already high budgets needed for planning a wedding.

It is high time that the coming generation starts changing the trend.
















Monday, April 14, 2014

Lazzatdaar Food




Laazzatdaar khana, sumptuous food has always been the soul of an Inidan wedding.

For each guest that goes to a wedding, the memory of the lip smacking food is that lingers long after everything has been forgotten. And more than the good memories, the bad ones stick for eternity. A wedding which has everything right but somehow falters on the taste buds of the guests, stands little chance to be branded as a successful wedding.

People around the world take their food seriously, but we Indians are a little more touchy about it. Our celebrations and anything around happiness starts and ends with good food. So it is but obvious that when we go for a wedding, this is our top agenda. Drinks and Dance comes a close second, but Food ..well that is the sanctum santorum of the whole wedding piece.

Wedding FoodSo what do you always keep in mind when arranging for the food arrangements for a wedding.. Well everything. It starts from the menu, to the cook, to the layout, to the variety to the estimate on how much of what to be made, everything has to be thought out and planned ... and after all that planning all you can do is just pray that everything goes as per your plan and people are full of stomachs and praises as they leave the wedding hall.

I may sound like an exaggerator, but I have never been more close to the truth. All I say here is out of sheer experience (good and bad) So I am sure you wont mind a few tips from the expert. Here they go:

1. Do not try too many news. Always go for a caterer or an agency with whom you have had some good experience already. Even if you haven't arranged for a wedding as yet, I am sure you would have attended a few where you were awestruck by the quality of food. Always go on the tried and tested root .. In this case the road less traveled may not be either exciting or rewarding.

2. Always keep a good mix of vegetarian and non vegetarian dishes. 

3. Keep kids in mind when deciding the spread. It is very important for the parents that the kids are busy eating so that they have some peace and can relish their plates

4. Focus on desserts. Keep the best for the last. 

5.  Always label your food, so that people know what they are eating

6. Do not mix too many cuisines, a theme is always better. Eg Gujrati or Punjabi or continental. Many times in our race to give too many options, sometimes the caterer is too hard pressed on time and starts taking shortcuts in preparations and that takes a toll on the taste. The key is keep it simple and tasty.

7. Always keep an option of fresh fruits and milk. Many time there are those oldies who fast. If they feel taken care of..you have won the battle.

7. Gol Gappes are a must if it is a north Indian wedding - or any wedding if you plan to invite me.












And one last thing ...You can never make all your guests happy when it comes to food. The litmus test is you yourself. If you like what you have served...chances are you have done fairly OK on the lazzatdar food front.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Condition of Dreams



Adi was her first born. He had brought her joy, pride and attainment the moment, the nurse had put him in her lap. That feeling was one its kind, something she had never felt ever before. The love she had for Adi was selfless and unconditional …or so she thought.

She wanted the best for him; she had dreams for him, dreams that overtook her love for him somewhere.

When Adi confessed her love for Rukhsaar, his eyes reflected the undying trust in her mother’s love for him. He knew she would never ever say no.


But so he thought.




This post is written for the 100 Words on Saturday on Write Tribe. This goes for all those parents who somewhere forgot to draw a line between their dreams and the dreams of their children. Their dreams should not and cannot be a condition for their love. Its true that  mother gives life to his child, but still it is his life. No one owns it ..no one should expect to.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Kanyadaan












Kanyadaan is the most important wedding ritual which is a token that seals the deal. This is the moment when the Brides parents finally give away their daughter to the groom and hope and wish that he and his family will take good care of her. The emotional fool in me sheds a tear every time I witness this ritual. It may be as far a relation as my neighbours friends daughter getting married or as close as my new new sister in law. The finality of this moment and the realisation that the daughter has been handed over to her new life, always gives me shiver down the spine. 


Kanyadaan which has been derived from Kanya (Daughter) + Daan (Donation) is said to be the noblest of all donations. It does take a strong and a giving heart to give away the most priced possession of your life, your daughter, in the hands of a stranger and let her go on her life journey without holding your hands. Since, this is considered to be an auspicious milestone of the parents life, in many regions of India, the parents of the bride fast the whole day of wedding. They only have food after the Kanyadaan is over and they have been relieved of their biggest responsibility in life. 

It definitely is a moment of accomplishment for the parents. The day a girl comes to life, her mother starts dreaming of the day she will be a bride. So what if it gives her a pang of pain thinking that her princess will no longer be only hers, but at the same time the desire to see her happy and settled in her married life is the secret dream of every parent.

In a kanyadaan, once the father of the bride gives the hand of his daughter in the grooms hand, their hands are tied together, or they hold each others hand. This is emblematic of the unison of two hearts and souls forever. The relatives give their blessings to the bride's parents by throwing flower petals, congratulating them for the big moment.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Steal the Shoe


 


 
J for Juta Churai


 
Of all the fun customs in a wedding, the one which clearly steals the shoe..errrrr I meant steals the show is Juta Churai. Set at just the right time when the wedding ceremony is happening under the "Mandap", this is a perfect filler item to add a little excitement to the otherwise- starting-to get-tiring night full of "Mantras" and serious wedding  rituals.
 
 
Basically for this custom, the siblings of the bride are entrusted with a serious mission of stealing and hiding the shoes of the groom. The groom is caught vulnerable at the opportune time when he has to sit in the mandap barefooted to start the wedding ceremony. Right at that time, his shoes are taken away from him right under his nose. To get those shoes back, which by now, are not just his shoes but his pride as well, he has to beg, threat or bribe his sister in laws.
 
 
The activity pumps up energy even in the friends of the groom, who are trying to guard the shoes or get them back from the not-so easy-to-fool sisters of the bride. In all my Juta Churai memories I have till now, the best is when I had stolen the shoes in my cousin's wedding. It was a fight to the finish, and the groom's cousins and friends left no stone unturned to reclaim those shoes from us. When nothing worked, as a last resort they stole the footwear of all the bride's sisters, as a barter bargain for the groom's shoes. Ofcourse that didn't work either and finally we did manage to get what we wanted from the groom. Our demand was simple .. we did not take money (which usually is the custom) but instead asked our otherwise shy  "Jijaji" (groom) to sing a song in praise of all his sister in laws.
 
Juta Churai is so famous that even Bollywood has banked on its popularity. Have a look at this sing from Ham Aapke Hain Kaun
 
 
I feel this custom would have started in order to bring the two families closer. Over the time, people have started taking this ritual too seriously, and instead of bringing people closer, it ends up in a tussle. But of-course that is only momentary, and later on people do look back at it with fond memories.











Thursday, April 10, 2014

You are Invited






I for Invitation


After the arrangements for the venue is done, the next most important item in the preparation list for a wedding are the invitations. Anyone who is planning for a wedding must give good thought to the hows and whos of invitations. This is a sensitive matter, and must be handled with caution.  It is much more than a "block your date" information. It reflects the happiness and the excitement of the hosts around the upcoming life event in their family and should make the recipient of the invitation feel important and invited.

Few points one should consider while inviting

1. The invitation card should have a personal touch. It should resonate with the personality of the family sending the invitation. For a vibrant extravagant family, bright coloured invitation cards would suit more than a sober theme. I will site our example here - Our family has an acute love for Hindi and Humor. I have had so many people telling me that they feel happy and warm every time they come to our house, as the air is very informal and welcoming. So when it came to sending out invitation cards, we wanted to have the same feel around the card. That's how we skipped the usual paragraphic invitation, and made it more informal and fun to read. And since we most of our invitees were hindi speaking, the choice of language also came naturally. Have a look at our card:




The best compliment we got for the invite was from close friend of mine. She said while reading the card she was constantly smiling and felt as if she was sitting in our house with all of us and reading it and that compliment made us very happy.

2. It is very critical that the invite reaches all the people who matter and well in time. For that one should start making the list in advance so that you do not miss anybody. Best way is to go on a virtual geographical tour and make sure that all your friends and family from each city have been listed down.

3. The invitations should go at least 1 month in advance and then a personal call or email 10 days before the wedding will make the person feel good and welcomed.

4. Mostly in North India, friends and relatives staying in your city should be invited in person. But if that seems difficult, a phone call is a must.

I have a tip for the invitees as well - Whenever you get an invitation, do acknowledge the receipt by a return call. And if you mention something about the invite itself which struck you, that will make the sender of the invite feel very happy and accomplished.

 Star Post of day 9:
Debbie takes us to Italy today... You must visit her theme posts ... They will " keep you going "



























Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Henna on Hands



                                                              H for Henna


Henna (Mehndi) are the intricate patterns made on the hands and feet of the bride with a past of henna leaves. This is one of the "Solah Sringar" the bride does for her wedding. This signifies the onset of a new life and the deep colours of the henna are a symbol of good luck.






Along with the bride, the female relatives on both bride and the groom side apply henna on their hands. While the mehndi is being applied, folk songs are sung by the ladies of the family, and the cousins and friends of the bride dance to them. This is one of the happy moments in the wedding and a star attraction for all the ladies, as they get an excuse to get their hands coloured and sit for atleast 5-6 hours without doing anything. To get the right colour of Henna, you should not apply water on it for atleast 5 to 6 hours. So what does that mean - Well it means that the men at work and the chores not include work related to wedding, but also helping their spouse in having her food, setting her hair straight and help her in anything she orders him to do.

Now I will let the pictures do the talking:




My Mother getting Henna on her hands
And this is my Killer Drama  father posing to apply Henna on my Mothers Hands


And That's me ...Henna Ready for my brothers wedding

 Coming to the Star post of the day, that goes to Tulika, the obsessive mom. She is obsessive about books too and her series on authors is not to be missed. Today she talks about my all time favorite author Harper Lee. A must read for all of you.






















Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Grihapravesh






                                             

G for Grihapravesh


Her first steps
With apprehensive mind
and curious eyes
With the heart full of hope
and brimming with dreams
to her abode,
the place of her dreams
and the dream of her life..

Grihapravesh is the serene and much  awaited moment after the full on dance, drama and hustle bustle of wedding.  This is the Bride's welcome to the place she will call home. Grihapravesh is the time when the newly wed bride enters her new house. Every region in India has a unique and beautiful way to welcome the new member in the house.

Griha PraveshIn some places, the bride enters the house after pushing a kalash (pot) filled with rice, with her right foot. This signifies the arrival of the Goddess of prosperity in form of the new bride. In some cases, the bride pushes the Kalash full of coins, again signifying the arrival of wealth.





 At other places, the bride puts her feet in a tray which has a past of water and vermilion. And, putting the right foot first, the wife enters, making marks of her foot steps. They believe that these footsteps are of Goddess Laxmi, and signify her arrival in form of the bride.





In our house, the bride is welcomed by the mother in law with tilak and "Aarti". But before that she wards of all evils, which is called "Nazar Utaarna" in hindi, by moving a jug full of water infront of the bride 7 times. After this the bride makes the mark of her hands on the wall of the house. This she does by dipping her hands in a paste of water and turmeric. This is like a permanent mark of her arrival, and from that moment on, she becomes a part of the family. Take a look how it happened when my Bhabi was welcomed by Ma.





































This is a very special moment for the bride and the family. It has the warmth and the welcome needed to make it a memory for a lifetime.

Coming to the Star post for Day 7 -- This time it is my very own Richa Singh. She has a knack to enter your hearts and speak to you at a blink of an eye. Her theme in this challenge around what goes inside a girl who is stuck in mid twenties, and today she talks about Getting Hooked on a Hobby. You will love it.









Monday, April 7, 2014

Fishing the ring







Sounds Fishy ???

Sorry to disappoint but it isn't fishy at all, its just a game. Among all the rituals I have seen in weddings, this one is one of my favorites.

Simply put, it is a perfect ice breaker game. Generally it is played just after the bride enters her new house "Sasural" after the wedding ceremony. So what is the game all about ???


Objects: Big flat shallow plate of milk and water, one ring, one coin

Goal:  To be the first to get the ring out of the plate of water and milk

Number of Players:  Only two..Bride and the groom

How to Play : The ring is put in the shallow pot of milk and water. To add difficulty levels, flower petals are also added to the pot. The one who gets the ring first wins

Tips: A wise tip to the groom is to lose this game if he wants to win the smile of his bride. That would be priceless midst the  apprehensions and turmoil of the bride of being at a new place among new people.

Rumor has it that this game determines who will be calling the shots in the matrimony. The winner of this game is said to have the upper hand in all the significant and insignificant decisions in future and gets to dominate the turf of arguments forever.

How naive of people to think that deciding the "one up" in marriage is as simple a game of ring and pot.


OK , now coming for the Star post for Day 6 it is our very own Vidya Sury. She "Did it again" when it comes to Family I do not think anybody can write it better than her.












Envelopes



E for Envelopes for Shagun

Shagun Envelopes are a popular sight  for a Punjabi Wedding. What they are - Well plain and simple gift in cash covered up in nicely decorated envelopes to be handed over at various occasions during the wedding to the bride or the groom or to both and sometimes to the relatives of the bride and groom as well.



In my brother's wedding I realized , that envelope handling is a department in itself and it needs experts to manage it. Since an Indian wedding is a series of big and small customs, a lot of "give and take" of envelope happens over the two day affair. The amount inside the envelope is not of much consequence, but what is important is that if you are a relative you must carry a good number of envelopes with you, which you can keep doling as and when the Pundit instructs.

Similarly,  as a host also, you need to give these shagun envelopes at various occasions, some of which I told you about in my post on door stopper. So some tips for the wedding planner from my side would be:

1. Take atleast 4-5 colour or pattern envelopes
2. Keep different denominations in different colours. You can keep denominations ranging from Rs 50 to ????  Well, actually there is no maximum limit, you can draw the line wherever you want. But mostly a custom like Juta Churai (i will talk about this when we come to J) wins by good margins when it comes to the booty in the envelope.
3. It would be good to make a list of customs, number of people who will be at the receiving end for these customs and also the amount you would want to give away as shagun. (token of gratitude or blessing)
4. Also please do keep a good number of plain unmarked envelopes. This is for a surprise which the Pundit ji (Hindu Priest) will give you at the last minute, and also for those unorganised and unprepared guests who will not be carrying their envelopes and would in turn request you to give them one so that they can put in their blessings in form of cash and give it to the bride or the groom.

What I have come to understand, this envelope business is more seen in a North Indian wedding. Personally I am not very comfortable with it as it becomes an unwanted burden on both the side, and here I am not talking about the money involved, but the hassle of logistics and planning involved around it as well.

Star of day 5 - Have a look at an amazing artpiece by Kathy Combs. She is in love with Zentangles and her passion shows in her drawings,



















Friday, April 4, 2014

Door Stopper




                                                  D for Door Blocking

When they say Indian Weddings are fun, it is more because even the character artists in the whole drama called wedding, are given good enough footage. Door Blocking, is one such custom, which not only gets some light moments for the family and guests, but also makes relatives of the bride feel "wanted".

Door Blocking, in hindi called "Darwaza Rukai" is done in various forms at various times by different people. Some of those moments are:

1. When the groom gets ready to sit on his mare and proceed for Baraat (Hope you read that post), his sisters and cousins block the door and do not allow him to go. Basically all these customs are also money minting techniques, and the only way to appease the door stopper is to bribe her with an envelope with a decent amount of money.

2. The sisters really get the cream when it comes to such money making customs. Yet another time when they are at guard, is when the bride is entering the home after her "Vidaai" (basically see off by her folks). Poor girl, she anyways is not happy leaving her home and coming to a new place. and to top it, she is being extorted for money to enter the new house. Actually this is where her ragging starts. In many places after she does get the permission to come inside the house, she has to bow to a covered heap, which is said to be the family deity. And what it actually turns out is a pair of shoes. Mean no !!! But these are the memories which make weddings fun and giggly. 

3. Another moment when the sister in laws get lucky with the door stopping gimmick, is at a time when the Groom is at a very vulnerable stage. They catch the fish just at the right time. This is when the groom is all ready for his wedding night and  is dying to to enter the room, where his bride is waiting. And the evil SILs would just not let him go till he butters them adequately.

4.Some families also have a custom of door stopping of the groom by the Bride's mother. This is when the Baraat arrives at the wedding venue. The mother must pull the Groom's nose before he is allowed to enter.

So that was D for you. Ofcourse D also stands for Daaru, which is an integral part of the North Indian wedding. It is the license to let it loose and be "high" on "spirits"..well literally. D also also stands for Dholak, which is the soul of Indian weddings, with all the folk songs of that region being sung on the beats of Dholak. 

Hope you are enjoying the A to Z of Indian Weddings. Do stay tuned for more.

The star Blog Post for Day 4 on D is Suzy who is putting together the jigsaw puzzle of life today. And today's piece is Destiny. Do read her series if you are looking for some answers.

Till we meet again ... Keep the Doors of your heart open for me!!!


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Chai Time





                                                      C for Chai-Shai 


So after two days of tradition talking, I thought I will get something hot and steamy for my post for today.

Well ..Well.. Well... I can see those eyes rolling and the naughty minds going on a trip ... But hold your horses (and nothing else *wink *wink), we are still talking Indian Weddings and one of the most crucial element of a successful wedding plan is to have uninterrupted and hassle free supply of a hot and steamy cup of Chai. (Chai (Tea) is the most popular hot beverage, specially in North India)

A lot happens over a cup of chai in the weddings. It can range from gossip, to matchmaking, to folk songs to controversies. Yes, you heard me right. Chai is a touchy topic, and everyone in India has his own way of making his cup of tea. And when such diverse tastes and preferences meet in a wedding, we are all set for a "masala chai " .. the only difference being that the masala is more around tea than in the tea.

A chai controversy can happen over anything, right from the time it was served, to the number of times its was served, from too less sugar to too much sugar, and the list goes on. This insight has come from close observation and experience. In my family my maternal and paternal sides are at the two ends of the spectrum when it comes to tea. One side loves brew tea with no sugar and few drops of milk and the other side wants milk,sugar and tea all in abundance with a few drops of water. So when it came to making both the parties happy with the chai arrangements, it was a big challenge. But as we were well prepared for this tiff well in advance, we had made separate arrangements for both kinds and no one had to compromise.

As someone wisely said

“A simple cup of tea is far from a simple matter.” 
― Mary Lou Heiss

Chai can be replaced by coffee in some places and cocktail in others, but the moot point is that this is one thing you cannot go wrong with, if you want your guests to leave the wedding with happy memories.

Read this post over a hot cuppa  chai....









Star Post for Day 3 ... In love with stories ..more so love stories..well there is one in making with lots of drama and emotions. Check out Srilakshmi's blog for her A to Z story.