Thursday, October 1, 2009

Getting hitched.. the Tam Bram way!

I will chronicle the final part of our adventures in my next post.. for now just a news flash! We are back to boring old routine!! Now to the rest of my post.

A couple of things before I start.. no I am not getting hitched.. that happened 7 years ago.. (no I am not even going to give you a historical recap.. pulease!) However, I am urging my sister "The fantasy girl" to repeat history and get hitched.. but then she lives in a fantasy world and dreams of the knight in shining armor on a tall white horse sweeping her off her feet and riding off into sunset.. (with dust getting into their eyes?) So here is how I am helping her figure out that ain't happening in a household like ours! With a blog post!
Secondly, a little dive into what qualifies as a "household like ours"... A Tamil Brahman (Tam-Bram) household like every other with its own set of idiosyncrasies! This is what transpires in a Tam Bram (Tamil Brahman) household as a girl comes of the "Marriageable" age... which starts at 21.. in the final year of college!

Coming from a Tam-Bram household that struggles between being traditional and modern... as you can imagine groom hunting is quite an involved task in our household! While under usual circumstances the family treats everyone under the age of 40 as kids (Kolundhaikku edhavadhu kuduthaya - Did you give anything to the baby?), they are quick to notice when you turn 21 and are waiting to pounce on you! And if you as much demur, it is decided that you are in love with someone!
At least if you are living with your parents you are saved from further speculation. A friend lives across seas and is yet to make the plunge.. he is speculated to be married to a "Velakari oo Karupiyo" - foreigner, and have "Kolandhai Kutti" - roughly translated means kids/young ones; whatever that means! The poor guy apparently is making ends meet in his part of the world and just enjoying being single... while his relatives plot to reign in the net and get him hitched!!
Anyway, more on the struggles of the Tam Bram confused household! Traditionally the horoscopes are matched , parents are met and the marriage is fixed.. whatever happened to the bride and groom you ask? Here is where the (so called) modern outlook come in. With educated city bred foreign aspiring/living boys and girls, that is so not enough! So now they want to talk to each other and air out their views.. while the parents ask every night and day "So do you like the boy/girl?"..
"Ahem I need more time"..
"What do you need more time for, he is well educated, kai naraya sambadhikaran (earns a hand full... that's it?) and comes from a good family background what more do you want?" or "she is beautiful, adaka odukama iruka ( I have no clue how to translate this.. but roughly means she is timid and shy?) and comes from a good family background what more do you want?"
"Maybe I should meet him/her?"
"Sure get engaged first"
Whoa??
Meanwhile somehow the girl has convinced her parents and the boy has put his foot down and they get to exchange emails and have that phone call.. amidst daily enquiry from parents "What did you talk? What do you think? How long did you talk today?". And then the girl and boy now want to meet! If you think that will buy some time, you are grossly mistaken!
Sure say the parents with all magnanimity ... and then the parents of the boy along with a couple of well meaning, loud talking relatives, their boisterous kids and a few other tag along's arrive along with the boy! The boy and his retinue are greeted, fed and filled and the "Pon pakara padalam" - (Girl meeting ordeal) is on the way! (In the background.. the girl and her parents have a tiff about what she should wear.
"I will show up in jeans" she says "thats what I wear everyday, lets not fool them into thinking I am someone I am not"
"Wear saree" say the parents and they both settle for a salwar kameez "with sleeves!!!"... anyway moving on...the retinue has now been fed and all inappropriate questions have been asked by either sides!
"How much do you earn" someone asks the boy
"So do you cook?" the girl is asked.. and they are both perspiring from an attack of the heart and the nerves! Finally someone suggests that the boy and girl go away and talk in private! So they are off to some cramped quarters to talk to each other for about 45 minutes. If as they come out there is a smile plastered on their faces, and they did not walk out in less than 5 minutes.. someone inevitably asks "appo eppo nichyadartham?".. "so when can we have the engagement".. Excuse me?
Some Tam Bram households have crossed this stage and now let the girl and boy meet without subjecting them to this mayhem.. however not for long. The very first meeting comes with a deadline.. "so when will you have an answer?"... ever tried responding to that with "When I am ready?" you are bound to hear a full length lecture on how the western world has spoilt these children!!
If you are Tam Bram and single, it is advisable to avoid all kinds of big gatherings especially weddings (for that seems to set the tone to the hope that every single being is paired off)! Or have relatives who can fend off inquiries! However the relatives don't, the well meaning close ones walk around with a copy of your horoscope that is readily produced on even the subtlest of inquiries, while others are ready to pounce on you and get you hitched right there! And God forbid that the boy/girl happen to be available in the same venue! You are in for some big time match making!
And if you do give your consent to marry some dude, your journey has just begun.. there is the engagement and the endless stream of relatives and friends with their free advice to endure! Everyone you meet.. Tam Bram or otherwise will prod/ tease/ mock/advice on the only topic that occurs to them now.. your wedding! It is almost as though the rest of the world ceases to exist now! Everyone will ask you ..if you are excited? If you talk to him/her every day/night? How many times in a day? If you visit each other every weekend? If you talk to the parents too? If you are learning cooking? If you are doing the wedding shopping? If you are going crazy? (no that last one is common knowledge right? So why ask?)
Well at least most brides have the good sense to hire a parlor to do hair and make up (unlike me) and don't have to endure dozens of relatives getting creative! And most parents have given up their struggle against their kids independence and just let them be! Not to mention in this day and age, there are a lot of cafes (and pubs) across the town that you can skunk off too. Besides, expectations have almost hit rock bottom... as long as you are not eloping with some guy off the street and have consented to marry the guy picked/ approved (even if he barely meets the approval guidelines) by your parents.. they let you get away with anything! Some parents are learning to live with even lower expectations, as long as they are invited to the wedding they will live with it! But my Tam-Bram household is yet to get there!
And once you are married the next question arrives.. "So any good news?" ... yeah right, I got hitched isn't that news enough? But no.. the next step is to now produce a bundle of joy.. and then the next.. and then they can start plotting your kids wedding!! And the journey goes on...

17 comments:

Cantaloupes.Amma (CA) said...

Ah well ... its not just Tam Bram ... its true for Kannada Bram or for that matter most people in India I think.
You didn't mention about the "Rejection" from either the boy / girl is counter attacked by questions like "Why not?", "The family is respectable", "Looks are not everything", "You have too many unrealistic expectations" etc

Pavi!!!! said...

ahahah! Deja vu preeti..deja vu :D

once u have the 1st bundle of joy...dont they start preaching how important it is to have the
2nd child on time?

n yayeee!welcome back!

VJ said...

I have been thinking about you for the last few days.. havent heard from you for long and was acutlaly going to email or message you today..

great great post !!
I guess every tambram household is the same... it never changes.. or wait do the parents exchange notes ?

Sumana said...

These days even with all this if parents do not see things progressing by networking, they register their kids names in the marriage bureaus for the most suitable prospect. LOl was a good read. Just imagine, mine got settled the similar way you mentioned and that too me not atteniding that wedding at all. Ofcourse we got to talk before but I tell ya networking works big time in tam bram weddings.

Nisha said...

so i must have been a complete disgrace!
Tell priya to hang in there and make sure she doesn't get pushed into anything before she is sure (or am I not supposed to say that?!)

Uma said...

Agree with CA - quite true of many communities in India. I recently came across someone looking for a groom for his niece - the only thing he mentioned repeatedly was, 'she is earning x, so the guy has to be earning atleast x+y'!

Preethi said...

CA - Yeah you are right.. must be the case in most families around India!! :) And the rejection bit is so true!! :D Maybe you should share your experiences too.. will be a fun read :)
Pavi- You dont have a first one.. so why worry about the 2nd on time!! My first 1 is 5.. so I am aleady late by 4 years I think?
VJ - They dont need to.. its all in the genes!! :)
Sumana - come come tell your tale!!
Nish - Remember the low expectations.. I am all for Priya finding a guy of her own.. but she just wont.. I cant say the same for my dad and the rest though!!
Uma - Oh yeah The girl needs to be shorter, less smarter, less qualified and needs to earn less.. but has to be atleast as pretty as Ms. Universe! If she was all this.. will she marry YOU?

rayshma said...

i guess that routine of questioning is true for most indian weddings. it's always when are you getting married, when are you having a kid, when are you having the next!
like it's any of anyone's business!
gah!

good to see you back! :)

Fantasies of a Lifetime said...

Hah , I dint know about the "lowered expectation" , you should have told me before :P . . .

@Nish : yesshh u commited a cardinal crime, or so i think :P . . .Where can i see ur blog btw ?

I was told to find a guy whose horoscope matches with mine ,and this is how the conversation goes. . .

A really cute guy : Hi .
ME :Hi , yes I would like to have a cup of coffee with u, but could u tell me ur place and time of birth - exact latitude and longitude :P . . .
The really cute guy : ?????? !!!!

Preethi said...

Raysh - Yeah but everyone butts in.. including your next door neighbor.. if he/she happens to be Desi
Vish - sssh.. this is a public forum.. lets take this offline shall we? Nish wanna join the bashing?

Girl Next Door (gnd) said...

LOL Preethi!!
I sorta lucked out on this whole charade :)
Of the 4 of us, only my oldest sis went thru the whole 9 yards (speaking of 9 yards, love the picture of the "koorai" podavai, and of course the saapaadu :)

So, is this a right place to ask if anyone knows a 6-footer iyengar, 30-ish guy, ready to be "groom"ed?
:)
No, not for me...for my cuz...

Preethi said...

GND - No grooms.. if you know a good iyerngar groom about 27-28 let me know.. Vish and Nish please refrain from making any assumptions!! :P

Vidhya Rajesh said...

Very well written Preethi! Are some of the pictures from your own wedding? The mehendi ones? I laughed out loud reading -ada odukam and kai niraya sambalam ROFL! ROFL! ... and your translations too!!! ... Try explaining this sometime to an american hear !! I can imagine their expressions!

Well I was a "disgrace" :) ... but reading all this makes me wonder .. "Am I Glad I missed all of this!!" ..

rm said...

what a reading . : -) happy to see you back with a long post. so waiting for the next set of news.

Subha said...

where were you lady...let me read the post now
Aryan's Mom

Subha said...

Man...... I am rolling with laughter...what a very true way you have expressed about Tam Bhram....I agree totally...adaka othudukamma irruka....ahhhhh
Aryan's Mom

Rambler said...

your post kind of scared the hell out of me..:)
needless to say I belong to the clan