Band Baaja Baaraat

I've learnt that weddings are all about food while marriages are all about digestion.

Weddings always come with their fair share of drama. My cousin’s upcoming wedding is no different.

The caterer has handed over the baton to another just days before the grand event. When I call my uncle on Sunday, he is running out the door. His latest job as food taster weighs heavily on his mind. “Food can be a deal-breaker in weddings!” he proclaims.

Having played different roles on many such festive occasions in the family over the last 25 years, I should know. I’ve learnt that weddings are all about food while marriages are all about digestion.

“She refused to come down for her daughter’s wedding.” My mother-in-law is recalling a scene from her own niece's wedding many decades earlier. The sense of disbelief on her face is still with me. She remembers the chaos after her cousin, the bride’s mother, stormed off to the first floor of the wedding hall just before the muhurtham. “I had to cajole her to come down to the mandap and participate in her own daughter’s wedding ceremony.”

Every family has its own wedding stories of runaway brides, moody aunts and excommunicated relatives making a dramatic re-entry. But on the day of my friend’s wedding, the milkmen were unable to come as a political leader had passed away in the wee hours of the morning. An uneasy atmosphere had descended all over town.

A south Indian wedding without the traditional kaapi is a sure sign of things going downhill. All males under the age of 60 were given a stainless steel container each and sent to every neighbourhood in the city. It reminded me of those stories that we read as children when a dad would distribute money among his children and direct them to seek their fortunes in the world. The “milkmen” at my friend’s wedding did such a good job that guests talk about it to this day.

For some reason, videographers filming wedding festivities seem to have an affinity towards the dining hall. Every transgression on dining etiquette is rec­orded for posterity for generations to wa­tch in the comfort of their living rooms. Finger-licking, lip-smacking noises and worse yet, people gesticulating with wet hands in the air while conversing with their companions are familiar scenes from wedding videos. Sartorial elegance takes a backseat in this messy affair.

“My mysore pak is better than yours.” The food talk while dining on plantain leaves never fails to amaze me. The diners carefully analyse the innumerable items in front of them and pronounce their verdict between bites. Then comparisons are drawn between caterers, communities and nationalities. After Bollywood and cricket, we are fanatic about food and what passes off as wedding cuisine.

As I pack my bags with silk saris and lehengas for the family wedding, I find myself worrying whether my husband has a decent kurta to wear. The man, on the other hand, seems to be obsessed about the varieties of sweets that might be served. I note down the need to remind him to lay off the chole batura.

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