Guest Post : Wedding Bells

I have always had this issue with many North Indians considering everybody living south of the Vindhya mountains (or in modern times, everyone south of Andhra Pradesh) as ‘Madrasis’. While most of them don’t use this term derogatorily, the fact remains that they are doing a great disservice to all of us down south.

There are just so many varieties of South Indians that clubbing them together into one large dark skinned group is wrong and speaks of narrow minded stereotyping at its worst.

With that prelude, here’s yet another guest post by favorite guest author and this time he deals with his experiences at a Tamil Brahmin wedding with a few words of advice for couples who are inter-racial (at least from a South Indian perspective). Given that he has more than decade of matrimonial experience and happiness speaking for him, his advice is sound.


Image courtesy: The Hindu website
Image courtesy: The Hindu website

Tamil Brahmins (Tam-Brahms) are of two kinds – Iyers and Iyengars. Iyengars follow Vaishnavite traditions while Iyers are Saivites. Iyengars in-turn are sub-divided in Vadakalai and Thenkalai. Iyers in-turn are sub-divided into Vadama, Brahacharanam etc. While superficially they seem similar, there are significant differences in rituals that these sub-sects follow.

We are Vadakalai Iyengars and our relative’s daughter was marrying an Iyer boy. Both are MBA grads, cosmopolitan and now settled in well paying jobs in Mumbai. It was a love marriage that took all the trappings of an arranged marriage. That seems to be the trend these days. The young ones want it both ways – all the fun of being in love and then enjoying the luxury of a traditional wedding! Right from the way the bride’s sari is tied (madisaar kattu), the mantras recited, the number of namaskarams made, the kind of food served, there are differences between Iyers and Iyengars. It was a pity that right through the wedding ceremony these differences spilled out as disagreements & arguments between the bride and the groom’s parents & relatives. While I hope & pray that the young couple have a long, happy married life together, I have a sneaking feeling that their parents & relatives will not make it easy for them.

All our romantic movies end with a wedding scene. Life actually starts then. The sequel is not always so romantic. In an arranged marriage typically a support system kicks in to smoothly complete the wedding ceremonies and the wedding generally happens with the blessings of everyone. In a love turned-into arranged marriage, one side or the other would have agreed only reluctantly to the wedding and this generally shows in the cooperation (or lack of) that they extend during the ceremony. Some of these disputes (though minor in nature) turn into long standing grudges and come in the way of a happy marriage.

For those of you in love with a person from another community, my advice is to talk to your loved one about what ceremonies that you are going to go through much ahead of your wedding and get everyone’s consent. In Indian marriages, we don’t marry an individual. We ‘marry’ the individual’s family! Getting to know everyone in your loved one’s family will make life much easier for you.

I was pretty much a rolling stone and nobody (least of all me) thought I will be marriageable. It was an arranged marriage. What helped I think, was the 6 months gap we had between our engagement and the marriage. It gave us a chance to understand each other and know about each other’s families. Once we married, both our parents stepped away and let us lead our lives. Both my mother and mother-in-law turned out to be good friends and I think their relationship transcended the formality of their roles. It is now 13 years since we got married and I think we are doing OK. My wife & kids complain about my dressing, my spending habits, my weight and pretty much about everything. But, that is quite normal and on par!

25 thoughts on “Guest Post : Wedding Bells

  1. Lol. It’s one of those things isn’t it. Even for love marriages people prefer if you married not just from the same religion but also the same caste.same sub sect…even gothram etc. We Indians are a strange bunch. Giggilarious post 😉 oh and where is this Andhra Pradesh you are talking about? Even cities and states are getting divided. We truly are weird

  2. “All our romantic movies end with a wedding scene. Life actually starts then.” How true!
    About parents and relatives not making it easy for the couple, let’s not forget the many ‘well-meaning’ family friends and ‘well-wishers’ who give free advice.

    • @Proactive Indian, oh yeah, it is when that ‘free advice’ starts spewing out of their mouths that I wish that ‘advice’ was actually ‘taxed’ in some form or the other in this country. Will go a long way in India overcoming its fiscal deficit problems 🙂

  3. Jairam , if the advice is ‘taxed’ the Govt. budget would be in surplus. LOL.
    All our romantic movies end with a wedding scene. Life actually starts then.
    How true! and the grudges held with each other’s side are life-long.
    The Great Indian Fat Wedding has ‘fat’ problems too.
    Enjoyed the post.

    • @Kalpana, oh yes, all the big fat Indian weddings have big fat post wedding issues, which is the ‘elephant in the room’ that all of us like to avoid 🙂

  4. There is a lot of wisdom packed in the 5 paragraphs above (I exclude your 3 above those, Jai). The ‘more than a decade of matrimonial experience’ shows indeed. However, the beauty of the post does not lie in the experience being shared alone, but also in the downright honesty with which it is shared. Perhaps, the ‘rolling stone’s’ smooth experience with his mother-in-law helped. 🙂
    And here – “The young ones want it both ways – all the fun of being in love and then enjoying the luxury of a traditional wedding!” – I laughed a hearty laugh, and a very guilty one! 🙂
    By the way Jai, henceforth, I will be calling you Mr. South-of-Vindhyas. May I? 😀

    • @Sakshi, the fact that this post brought out a longish comment from you, of all people, speaks volumes for how much you actually enjoyed it. And trust me when I say this, I have known the Guest Author for around 4 yrs now in various capacities as a boss, as a friend, as a mentor, as a fellow book reader who enjoys mythology as much as I do, as someone who has given me sagely advice at various times in life, and he has never ever let me down, not once. All his interactions have always displayed an extremely high level of maturity without letting go of his lovely sense of humor 🙂

  5. I am a north Indian and my best friend (a South Indian) married another North Indian. Thankfully there were no major issues but it was so much fun ! The major issue the groom faced was how he would convince the majority of his north Indian friends/relatives that no liquor will be served in his wedding and that there will be no dancing infront of the horse in thsi south Indian style wedding !

    • @Ruch, well, given that there are no horses in a South Indian wedding, his North Indian friends and family could have danced in front of the procession, that’s all. But the liquor issue must have been more than reasonably contentious 😀

  6. Jairam, mine was a love marriage and that too a North meet South one. We have been married for over 11 years now and trust me the families still don’t let it be easy for us. But I feel the major responsibility of making the marriage work lies with the couple. If they are bonded enough and learn to handle (rather chuck out) unsolicited help and advice, things will never go wrong. The worst time is the entry if a child. Each set of parents want the ceremonies, the name and almost everything to be done ‘their’ way. But then we as a couple chose to do it ‘our’ way but without being rude to either. I can actually write a post on this. Food for thought.

    “All our romantic movies end with a wedding scene. Life actually starts then.” Completely agree with this. 🙂

    • @Rekha, when there is so much ‘unsolicited advice’ in an arranged marriage, I can quite imagine how much it can be in a love marriage like yours 😉 And given that you have gathered your food for thought from this post, I am surely going to wait for the related post from you 😀

  7. Hmmm… My niece is getting married in March. It a wedding of a Nair with a Bunt. The engagement was smooth, and I have my fingers crossed for the wedding and its ceremonies. Nair weddings are a short affair, apparently Bunt weddings aren’t! You would think inter caste love marriages should be easier to conduct, but it definitely is much tougher!

    And yes you are right, life begins with a wedding in most cases. But in some rare cases, life ends with a wedding too. 😀

    Please reveal your Guest. Maybe he should start a blog. If he already has one, please send me a link. I would love to read more. 🙂

    • @Jyothi, well, first up am sure you are going to have a ball at the Nair-Bunt wedding considering it isn’t yours and you will be part of the audience having fun at the entire circus that will unravel itself there 😀

      Secondly, my favorite Guest Author is someone who blogs regularly at office (at least for the last 3 months or so) and I have broached the idea of him starting a personal blog of his own on WP or blogger, but he is someone who absolutely hates the idea of having to put in so much work, and that precisely is the reason that he allows me to cross post all these posts from his official blog 😀

  8. I am one of those for whom I am sure this post was written! A Goan GSB married to an Iyengar poster boy, that should tell you have my marriage must have been 🙂 After a lot of raised eyebrows and rolling eyes, we had our wedding Iyengar style in Bangalore but with a lot of rituals cut out, followed by a reception alongside a Goan beach 😛

  9. Beginning with what you wrote, Sir, indeed, we are the madrasis !! ( or ‘Mardasis’, as one-cheek-of-a-five-years-old-kid had the audacity to call me, years back at Delhi. He was still learning to speak then.) Something which I’ve never been able to understand is what is the rocket science involved here, when you are taught that there are 28 odd states in India and Tamil Nadu is a state and people from Kerala are Keralites and what not… !!
    And your guest here, well, he’s ever so wise. Such a short and crisp post. Such problems exist within the sects too. Say, for eg, Yajur vedi girl getting married to a Sama vedi guy…. half the rituals ( the vratham etc ) are as per the individual customs, and the rest of them are as per the guy’s vedam because the girl is being absorbed into that vedam ( I’m a living example) And of course , there are raised eyebrows for something as adjustable as this….. and this continues as the romance ends and life begins , starting from the daily poojas to neivedyams and sraadhams…
    So I can very well imagine what it would be when an inter-caste inter-religion wedding is spoken of !!

    Given that, I guess two tam-brahms can never fall in love with each other without first getting to know the respective gothrams 😀 😀 Excuse me, unga gothram ennathu…sagothram marriage aakkuma kind of enquiries 😀

    • @Sreeja, well said about the perils of Tam Brams loving each other, you never know that they just might end up being sagothram siblings 😉

      And yes, given the way our entire caste system is designed, almost every wedding has its own set of complications and convoluted rituals, don’t they 😀

  10. LOL!!
    The Guest-author is bang on!!
    Even though we belong to the same caste, because we come from different regions in Karnataka – the customs were different!! The whole wedding was nuts! and a circus!! And by the end of it – we both were like – “What did we just do?!”

  11. Well, it’s the same in North when there’s a love marriage between 2 different castes/ class / regions/ states. There is a tug of war between the two families, always…. “We do it this way”, “We have this custom”…. The poor bride and the groom and/or some ‘sane’ relatives are left to pacify the hurt/angry ones!

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