If marriages were to be compared to a duet, a harmonious wholesome twosome, then, well, matchmaking would be its ‘overture’. So, how indeed could namma ooru, nay, our whole land, be complete without the neighbourhood mami (aunt), or the self-styled matchmakers, without whose help so many couples would be mere singletons? And who would be unfamiliar with the sight of these dear ladies crossing paths with us every day while on a morning walk?
Standing by the sidewalk, exchanging notes in hushed undertones about the latest eligible bachelor in town, or maybe the young girl who is chockfull of degrees, and reluctant to take the plunge into holy matrimony, these mamis have a pivotal role to play in this rather community-oriented society of ours.
Dressed always in their very best, wrapped sometimes in the “whole nine yards” of that admirable Indian habiliment – the saree – with a trademark bindi on the forehead, not to forget the fragrant jasmine flowers entwined in their tresses, these revered ladies stand out by their in-depth knowledge of our traditions and customs. But that is not all. In matters of matrimony, they are even in the know of the “requirements of every family” as regards the “suitable boy or girl”. All our family functions and social gatherings would seem so incomplete without them!
To the casual outsider, and, yes, one from another country, this system of allowing rank outsiders to meddle with “les affaires d’chez moi” (affairs of my home) may seem mysterious but to us Indians this is perfectly normal! Like the famed Mrs Ada Harris, the charwoman (the creation of Paul Gallico), our mamis have a tried and tested “mami network” that can defy all attempts at straitjacketing, even as they excel, perhaps, the intelligence gathering abilities of the British MI5 or our very own CID!
To those who protest saying this is naught but a jest, well, never underestimate the powers of the ‘Great Indian Mami’. Like God, and Uncle Sam, she is all-knowing ,all-seeing, and can sniff out a discrepancy in any dealing before you can say ‘’Rumpelstilskin’’! Not surprisingly, while searching for a soul mate for their children, mothers unfailingly depend on our mamis for advice.
Of course, it goes without saying that any, and every, marriage would hardly be even half the success that it is without the homespun advice and sound sagacity of our mamis; it is they indeed who render the music in our marriages matching two sides sometimes “unequal in music” and do a great balancing act as they tap into our compatibility zones.
Not exceptionally, the Great Indian Marriage rests on the bulwark of our equally Great Indian Mamis! Kudos to these outstanding gems of humanity without whom our lives would be quite insipid and uninteresting and, yes, devoid of those sage pieces of wisdom!