Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Of marriages made in heaven,celebrated on streets

You never know what sort of ocassional camaraderie you start missing when you leave your home town.And that too from a laid back town like Jamshedpur to the nowhere near laid back city Mumbai.I was thinking about such things when the annual marriage 'season' came to my mind.

A marriage ceremony,I presume since I haven't seen any,is celebrated here in the confines of a community hall,or the lobby of a hotel.How many stars the hotel boasts of depends on the money involved.My mediocre middle class tastes would find such gatherings boring.A few drinks going around.People dressed like they took a day to do the make up.Plastic smiles and nods of acknowledgment all around.Sophisticated music,sometimes live.Showering the best of gifts and wishes on the bride and bridegroom.Food with three syllable names,but which look all the same.And taste even worse.Certainly not a day to remember.

My mind goes back to the tent-on-the-roadside marriages back home.Being a small enough city,there is enough space on the roads to do anything.Lack of community halls and hotel lobbies means that these canvas tents are the most common place for marriage ceremonies,accounting for more than 95% of the marriages that take place.And it is way exciting than it's high class substitute.

Roads are dug up for the supporting bamboos of the tents.Imagine this as an Indian form of "Hollywood walk of fame" street.The memories of the heavenly match that took place has forever been etched on the ground.The roads are blocked to disallow traffic into that part.The flashing signs reading "XYZ weds ABC" make sure that these deprived motorists have something to talk about when they get home,somehow.Not niceties in the strict sense but publicity has it's let downs.At least 10 monster size sound-boxes cover the perimeter of the tent,and these spring into action as soon as the first bamboo is hoisted on the road.That could well be 24 hours before the main event.Those neighbours missing out on being treated by the food are treated instead by the latest bollywood songs.At decibel levels that would make a rock band pack it's act and leave.Another few people to remember this event.

The 'party' begins at times starting from anywhere between 2-3 hours after the time printed in the cards.That means that enough people have gathered to fill the entire place,humbly small in most cases.Announcement from the hosts to get on the with the food meets with a huge rush of people crowding around the plate stacks to get their share (and perhaps more) of food.The most active lot is the huge amount of kids who spring from nowhere to attack the 'food counters' from all directions.Shouting,cheering,playing games and eating food.This is what a gathering is all about.Frail old people are the ones who get to sit down since the number of chairs present is almost always limited.The caterers who look after these 'counters' are amazingly miserly in giving away food,probably as an order from the hosts.Quite understandably so.

The food is nothing special.Same old junk I eat everyday.But I don't go there for the food.Observing people at such gatherings is such a fun thing to do.

The hosts are smiling at everyone and asking about the food,not even waiting for the answer.A few kids and slightly elder people who think they have a thing for the camera,chase the cameraman to make sure they figure in maximum possible frames.A group of middle-aged women are dicussing the fashion of the Soap opera glam girls,and their bit to emulate them.A group of guys is looking for girls to chase around.And out of place people like me are standing in the corners and observing with amusement.

The climax of the show comes when the bridegroom side or Baraat comes to the tent/mandap.Fireworks light the roads.Commuters run for cover.The flower decorated car is followed by a fleet of other rented cars labeled with the names of the souls to be married.The people are dancing on the streets to the tunes of most popular marriage numbers,accompanied by labourers carrying lighted tubelights on their heads.The entire path the baraat traverses get to know whose getting married.Another publicity bonus.

And it's too late by the time the marriage actually happens.So most of the crowd has already gone back.Their motive was to eat and have fun and eat even more.So they do their job and leave.They will come another day for the 'reception' post marriage to shower their gifts and blessings.

Me? I am fast asleep at the nearest free space.Even if it means joining chairs and sleeping in an awkard position.Highly trained to do that,after gaining expertise in sleeping during class hours.

Ah,how I miss these trivialities!

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