Sooner or later, every one of us is going to die.
Perhaps as a prelude to that, many of us choose to marry.
No, as usual I am just kidding. Marriage is an important socially-structured arrangement to help perpetuate the human race and help perpetuate the global warming process.
Historically, the idea of marriage has survived many onslaughts, roughly 97 per cent of it coming from Elizabeth Taylor alone. One of the main metaphorical arguments of those who don’t believe in marriage is: ‘Why buy a beer shop, when all you need is just a beer bottle’. Well, to them I tell: Try getting a beer at a TASMAC shop. The immediate urge will be that it will be nice if individuals had their own beer shops. At any rate, after marriage, one day or the other, many men cannot help wish that they had bought a wine outlet with the money they spent on their wedding.
There are also those who suggest the human race doesn’t need the institution of marriage to propagate itself. ‘Do animals marry,’ they generally ask. These people are making a vital point. Mark them out, and make sure you stay off from them because those who generally equate themselves with animals cannot belong to the human variety.
There are weddings, and there are the Indian ones. A typical Indian wedding is a long drawn out process, sometimes as long as to include the possibility of the newly-married couple emerging out of the wedding hall as proud dad and mom. The Mira Nair film Monsoon Wedding, I think, was named so to convey the fact that a typical Indian wedding lasts the entirety of the typical rainy season across India.
To understand weddings in the Indian context, you have to understand many things. Like:
Priests are to weddings what the Speaker is to Parliament or Legislatures: A prop of little practical value. But not totally devoid of purpose like the President. Priests at a wedding also represent the fact that the institution of marriage, and by extension life, has a deeper philosophical, moral and spiritual side beyond money and material comforts. The message being so vital, the priests generally charge top money to deliver it (mostly in incomprehensible language).
A Christian wedding is generally solemnised by the church Father, who, by remaining unmarried, practically devotes his entire life to the propagation of family values and the importance of marriage.
In a typical Hindu wedding, the gaggle of priests dons several hats, the chief of which has to be the one as the conductor of nadaswaram and melam ensemble. The priests carefully initiate the bride and groom into holy matrimony by passing clear-cut instructions to the nadaswaram troupe. Zubin Mehta, in my opinion, has what it takes to be a top-notch priest at a Hindu wedding.
And there are also religious denominations where the presence of the equivalent of the priest is more important than the bride and groom. It is quite possible in these religious groups for a man and woman to get married, and if need be, get divorced, totally in absentia.
Priests of all religious denominations also frown upon dowry. You can put this down to the fact they hate costly competition from other sources in a wedding set-up.
Caterers are to Indian weddings what the cheergirls are to T-20 cricket: The moral core. Without them the whole thing loses all its relevance and reason.
These days it’s not uncommon for couples to fix caterers for their children’s wedding and then actually get down to attempt begetting children. Kindergarten school administrators, caterers, your friendly neighbourhood pirated DVD sellers all occupy the same important spot on a social scale.
The success of a typical Indian wedding lies in providing a vast variety of viands and diverse dishes for the guests to conveniently waste. A normal person can, at a time, enjoy a two or three course meal. He can even do justice to a 6-course meal if he is Yuvraj Singh. But at a typical Indian wedding, one is presented with a 30-course meal, which one manfully attempts to eat and eventually ends up consuming less than what one normally does. It’s fair to say that if Indians, as a unit, decide to not get married in the manner they are used to, the world will not hear of famine deaths ever.
But the beauty of Indian weddings is no matter how wide and wonderful the feast is there will be always somebody to complain that the food is inadequate. Usually, that somebody will be important in the family hierarchy who has worked his way to a position of importance in the family hierarchy by persistently complaining about the food. He or she will do this even during occasions of fasting.
Wastages apart, Indian weddings are rich and vibrant occasions for reconnecting with old friends and relatives by picking up fresh quarrels and spats. Usually, such sparring moments somehow involve food, which are provided by caterers, who, if you bother to remember were the focus of this sub-section.
Beep. Beep. Beep. Oh, there goes the hooter to signal the end of both time and space for this week’s piece. But I still need to include the make-up, bridal dress and floral decorations that nobody really notice. That’s the problem with priests and caterers they hog all the limelight at weddings.
For more proof: See your own wedding photos and videos. The ones in the corner of every frame are you and your spouse.