In all cultures, marriages are celebrations of the whole community. Wedding is a time of mirth and reunion of all family members and old friends. But in gramam a wedding is no more synonymous with joy and reunion but a real head ache for the parents of the married, as nowadays a marriage function has changed to be a real kaliattom. It is a total mess. No one can tell you who attended the function and who abstained, who got food and who returned dejected. Children cry as their mothers desert them at the scuffle before the queue to the dining hall. Collapsible shutters are mercilessly closed before you as if you were an intruder. You will feel you were in Ethiopia and people have not enjoyed a proper meal for ages. Once inside the hall the different items will be dumped into your plantain leaf and people will be eagerly standing behind you to snatch your seat when you finish. Also you could see people who will directly go to the lunch room without bothering to attend the wedding.
Last week there were two such weddings. The number of guests who attended the wedding will amaze anyone in the world – a sweeping three and a half thousand people. In no other part of the world will there be such a mass reception in connection with a wedding except of course for the weddings by people like Ambanies and others.
So in gramam when someone invites you to the wedding you will note the date. A holiday is declared for the kitchen for two days. Formerly, on the previous day of the wedding there used to be a small function in the bridegrooms home for those who could not attend the wedding the next day. Now everyone expect a Biriyani to be served to all on the previous day. Hence the parents are burdened to arrange two functions simultaneously.
After a wedding, the brides’ parents will never smile again as before. Such is the expenditure towards ornaments and food. The expenditure is not shared by the bridegrooms’ family as in other cultures. So the bridegroom and family will invite everyone they know.
In Christian and Muslim wedding there will be someone to receive you, take you around and feed you. Here there will be none. Last week I found a victim of our new practice. A close friend of the bride’s father from Thrissur came to attend the wedding. He came to the auditorium. No one received him. He attended the wedding. He was not at all happy as his friend who was very busy with his new relatives could not spare time with him. He shook hands with him and waited for some time to be photographed so that his long journey to the wedding is acknowledged and recorded. But no one invited him to the dais and he went down to the dining hall. The sight of people fighting for a seat was enough for him and he returned dejected.
This indeed is shameful. We should do something. The number of guests should be limited to a minimum. This will be difficult. But if only one person from one family attend the function, besides close relatives and friends, the number could be limited to five hundred maximum.