Thursday, October 28, 2010

Indian Weddings down south!

99labels announced the 99labels Wedding Week Contest and I decided to participate in it for three reasons:
1. It's a really interesting subject and often the topic of heated discussions in many conversations
2. It's a good opportunity to create awareness about the meaning behind tradition and rituals
3. It's a bonus if I win the loot, of course!

All you have to do is blog about one or more of the following topics:
  • My big fat Indian wedding
  • What “not to do” while planning a wedding!
  • My dream wedding – Simple or lavish?
  • Traditions I love/hate in Indian weddings
  • My wedding shopping spree!
Traditions I love in Indian Weddings
As a little girl, growing up watching numerous romantic movies where the brides are dressed up like angels in lovely white gowns, I always thought that is the best way to get married. In my innocence, it never struck me that religion had anything to do with a wedding or that only Christians have a white wedding!

I belong to a South Indian Bramhin family and I am married to the most wonderful husband in the whole wide dream did come true and how! I had an elaborate two- day wedding replete with all the rituals, amidst sacred chanting, auspicious beginnings and the blessings of our loved ones.

Like everything else in India, weddings look a little imperfect without traditions, rituals, fun and celebrations. Today, having travelled to different countries and experiencing different cultures and meeting different kinds of people...I realize that there is so much meaning and a sense of togetherness in our way of life - especially at weddings.

Everyone Counts!
Indian weddings are often a family affair, its not just about the bride and groom. Cousins, aunts, uncles and other relatives had come down for the wedding and its such a fun opportunity to meet everyone. Everyone helped a great deal with the wedding preparations and in receiving all the guests, sharing my parent's responsibilities. I also love the fact that in all our rituals, an aunt or uncle or brother has a role to play in every custom, it gives them a sense of participation and they feel important.

In south Indian weddings, there is a ritual called "Malai Mathal" which literally means "exchange of garlands". The bride and groom are lifted to the shoulders of their respective maternal uncles. This is an expression of continuing sibling support to their mother. It is often a lot of fun and laughter as the bride and groom dodge each other and everyone participates and enjoys the lightheartedness.

Kanyadaanam - a tribute to the Father-Daughter relationship
Kanyadaanam is a very important part of every Indian wedding. In a South Indian wedding, the bride sits on her father's lap while he performs the "kanyadaan" - "kanya" refers to girl and "daanam" refers to giving away. The father gives his most cherished gift, his daughter as a gift to the groom. It is believed that the groom is a form of Lord Vishnu. Thus, presenting him their most precious child is deemed as the greatest honor for the parents of the bride.

It is such a beautiful tradition and is such a lovely way to honour the parents of the bride. I was thrilled to be sitting on Appa's (father's) lap while getting married. I am truly his girl! I remember the pandit telling me to steadily look into my husband's eyes (I glady did) as part of the custom while sitting on Appa's lap while he tied the thali or mangalsutra to solemnize our union amidst vedic chants, our parents, relatives and everyone rushing to bless us with akshadai (rice-grains coated with turmeric and saffron, are showered on the couple, by elders and invitees – as benediction) and flowers - I remember that gorgeous moment even now!

Saptha Pathi - 7 steps towards an eternity of love and happiness
In "SapthaPathi" or seven steps, the groom holds the bride's hand and takes seven steps together around the holy fire. With each step, they take a vow - the belief is that when one walks seven steps with another, one becomes the other’s friend. In this small gesture, intimacy is mingled with earnest intentions, vowing in front of God - giving the ritual a whole new meaning. In North Indian weddings also, this is a very important step and is referred to as "Saath Phere".

Having watched the "Saath Phere" over and over in so many movies, it actually felt surreal yet wonderful to go through the same thing in real life. I also felt that this ritual propogates equality - that the man and woman are friends, companions for life.

Nalangu - good humoured fun!
The evening of the wedding day is "Nalangu" - a time to relax and have fun. The newly wed wife calls her husband for play. Much to the amusement of all gathered, there follows a series of playful games. During these events women sing songs, making fun of the bride, the groom and the in-laws.

Nalangu is good entertainment for all the guests and it also helps the bride and groom shed their inhibitions and get closer. At my wedding, I did'nt get a chance to play "Nalangu" as my husband felt it was very childish and we were too tired by then. We were engaged for a year before we got married so we had no inhibitons whatsoever by then, happily chatting away, much to the chagrin of my mother who wanted me to at least pretend to be a coy bride!

I am so glad that I got married in typical South Indian style intermingled with tradition, fun, and lots of love and blessings. Every single tradition and ritual has a deep meaning and fun element to it and its a once-in-a-lifetime experience...and you get married only once (well, atleast in my case)!

Your outlook towards life reflects who you are...similarly, I choose to look at the brighter side of every tradition and enjoy it thoroughly. I just LOVE our culture, tradition and weddings, of course!

Here’s how to participate:

  1. Become a member of 99labels (If you are not a member already) by clicking on the referral link at the bottom of this post. (You get Rs 100 worth of credit free to shop!) .
    1. Create a log-in preferably using the email id attached with your blog. This is to protect the anonymity of some bloggers as the referral link (read rule 2) displays your email-id.
  2. Post your referral link on the post (This means that whoever becomes a member clicking on the link gets Rs 100, and whenever you referral buys an item you get Rs 500). To find your referral link
    1. Log in on
    2. Click on “Invite friends” on the top menu.
    3. Go to bottom of page and look for “Copy and paste your personal invitation link” and paste the link at the bottom of your post E.g . My Referral invite –
  3. Copy and paste all the rules in your post.
  4. Leave a link to your post in the comments section of the contest page of 99labels
  5. Copy and paste this image at the end of the post and the category under which you have posted.

Edited to add: I won second place and a 1000 Rs. gift voucher!! Yay!!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Paisley Vijayadashmi!

Dusshera is a festival celebrated over 9 days by Hindus all over India. At the end of the 9th day, is Vijayadashmi - "Vijay" means victory and "dashmi" means tenth day, it signifies the victory of good over evil. It is believed that on this day, Lord Rama killed the demon Ravana and rescued his abducted wife Sita.

In South India, this day is considered auspicious to start education or any form of art like music, painting, etc. It is considered that anything that is started on Vijayadashmi will progress well. With that good intention, I painted this vase with paisley motifs, hoping that I will continue to develop this hobby and life will be filled with happiness and beauty just like the paisley design! :)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Thinking aloud...

When I created this blog, I did'nt really think or intend for a lot of people to read it, just thought of it as an online journal and hence the inane title and screen-name...I did'nt give it too much thought. Interestingly, friends who read my blog nowadays seem to refer to me as 'prettywoman' and it brings a smile on my face! :)

Some time back, I saw an interview of the gorgeous Actress Goldie Hawn, she has a certain child-like enthusiasm in her that is adorable. She said that when her mother died....80% in her did too....She said " I thought to myself - who would I want to make proud now? ". That is EXACTLY how I feel about my parents - both Amma and Appa. Fortunately, my parents are here with me and by God's grace and blessings, I hope they will be with me for a long time to come....But I think of them every single day in every little thing I do...and rush to call Amma to give her all the little tiny details of my life with as much description as possible.

I think I am still their 'little girl' - I know that's how it is from every parent's eyes! In my case, I'd rather remain that and not grow up! I still revel in their pride and feel deliriously happy when I make them proud, especially when they tell me so often that I do! :) Noone else's opinion matters as much!

Off late, I have heard of so many young people who have died suddenly, 21, 23 and 30 years old - an accident, a sudden illness and I can't stop thinking about how unfulfilled souls they would be...their unrealised dreams, love, places they have never been to, unfulfilled desires...I find it difficult to explain the anguish I feel for them...often, people console you that they are in a better place...but I fervently wish God had given them more time!

One of them was a friend who would talk to me very often about her personal life and she also told me that she would have noone to talk to, as I was relocating to a different city. We tried to remain in touch through the distance and she had been through a difficult relationship, divorced and was really looking forward to love, a new haunts me that she did'nt live long enough to enjoy the good things in life...she did not live life fully...I wonder what went through her mind...

Once, I read on someone's wall on facebook that " Never tell your problems to anyone ...20% don't really care and the other 80% are really glad you have them". I personally think that its a very cynical way of looking at it and fact remains that nobody can really solve your problems. I don't want to be cynical or bitter, I would like to believe that there is goodness in everyone. If the problems are within your control, try to solve them and if they are out of your control, I normally pray to God. That's all I can do and I strongly believe he knows what is best for us...have to admit that its difficult to remain optimistic and cheerful ALL the time...I do have my days! :) But I jump back to action pretty soon...I don't stay sad for too long, simply because it takes little things to make me happy :) and Of course, I have a fantastic support system. Amma's positive words and vibrant nature always makes me feel much better and I feel hopeful.

Many of my friends feel comfortable enough with me to share their very personal things or problems and I am glad that I can be someone they can trust...for a long time, I would always ruminate and try to think of a solution to their problem...then I realized that when I go talk to S or Amma about something that troublles me, do I expect a solution? I don't , I just want to vent...that's all. So I got my answer. I am very well aware that we all have to fight our individual battles but its easier when you have someone who is a good moral support and is generally optimistic about everything...the positive energy is infectious and renews hope in you.

A friend in college once told me that she feels that I am like water in a jug! Apparently, I adapt myself to my surroundings and people as water does to the jug or any container that holds it! Being a piscean, I do love water - be it the beach or tears! Both S and my brother make fun of me...especially if we are watching an emotional scene or a sad movie...coz I am always in tears!!

Last but not the least thought in my that if someone looks me up and down on the street or when I am out...the first thing that crosses my mind is " Damn! Are my pants unzipped?" and I check! :D

What are YOU thinking about?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Textured Glass!

S was away on a training all of last week and suddenly when I got back home from work, I felt like I had loads of time. Rather, I felt kind of lost when I came back to an empty home and I revived my 'glass painting' hobby! I used to work on glass paintings back in Pune, frame it and even managed to gift a few, sell a few... Have a look here and here!

In Paris, I am not sure where to go looking for someone or shops that will readily give me a piece of glass like back home in I started painting on used bottles like here, here and here! Some of my friends and S remember this and often, bring back empty interesting bottles for me! This time, I tried to give it a tie-and-dye texture to it!

....I even strung some beads together to decorate the bottle...makes it look '"pretty"? ...The beads came from earrings out of which I lost one! So I used the beads in one earring to do this! Am I the recycling queen or what!!??!! :)

Edited to add: A closer look at the "necklace"

I also found a place and some use for it at home, pretty quickly! I have this quirk, I have to do everything complete this minute, if I don't, its always running in the background whatever I I found these mini-flowers in the Sunday market and kind of got a "closure" for this!

My dad sent me a message ( he is not sure how to write a comment yet!)...
Hi,The blood red colour is enchanting,appealing and so beautiful.With the flowers inserted, the vase looks elegent,decent and adds charm,a beauty piece like the creator J . APPA

I am so thrilled and absolutely happy! :)