Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Chanti's Wedding- in the USA

Last August, my daughter got married. We went to the USA to conduct her marriage. She married an American. It was an interesting marriage. We decided to have a Iyengar wedding for her even though our son in law to be was an American.. Our son-in-law was game. It was fun, but really a lot of hard work. I must say though, that most of the work was done by her. And my husband. I was posted in Trichy, so was able to make only whirlwind visits for the shopping sprees. We were able to get the Koora Podavai in the first shop we went to; the first sari we saw was the sari she had specified. We wanted a mustard sari. She wanted a violet border. And guess what, that was the first sari the salesperson brought to us. So there was no need to order a sari and wait for it.  We ordered the Thirumangalyam, two sets, one from our side and one from the bridegroom's side and it came per time. We took most of the stuff from here. I had a Manja Veshti made to order for Michael and picked up a dark blue kurti to go with it. My daughter was going to be in her Blue Amman Kolam
Sari throughout till the wearing of the Koora Podavai, so without really thinking about it, the colors of the bride and groom coordinated.  My sister and her husband, my brother and his wife took care of some of the Vaideekam stuff from New Jersey. They also brought along Jangiri, Gulab Jamoon and Kara Sev from there. We used my husband's cousin's building as the marriage hall. The hall is new and Chanti's marriage was the first event held there.  Hopefully, that auspicious occasion will bring good luck to that place.  My sister in law in whose house we landed and took over, spoke to a friend who did the full job of catering of Iyengar food. Imagine that. Paruppu, Vada,  Payasam, Vazhakkai More Kuzhambu, Appalam, the works, in Ames!! There were so many other items too!!  She even made a separate batch of food for Michael who cannot have dairy! You were awesome, Rama!! Another cousin and his wife arranged for an Iyengar Vadhiar, and yet another cousin drove him down all the way from Minneapolis to Ames and took him back.  My son and a whole bunch of nephews decorated the marriage hall. With decorations which my sister in law in Chennai and I went and bought. This sister in law virtually designed the look of the Medai and bought the decorations for it, including the curtains, which looked swanky! The sister in law whose house we took over was the chief cook/ chef, while  I took upon myself to be the dish washer operator and cleaning woman. Other sisters in law pitched in with the work that arises in a marriage-in-the-family situation. It was chaotic, but what fun. How the two of us shopped for food and things. Organizing a marriage in America was a challenge which we took up with gusto and saw through successfully. .
We had a Meet-and-Greet the evening previous to the marriage. On that day, the Mehandi lady came home around  one ish in the afternoon and did the bridal mehandi. My daughter had blocked a beautiful party gazebo sort of place in the local park and the boys and girls decorated it. Food was ordered and we all met up for the first time. We ate and danced and sang and generally had good fun. I certainly seem to enjoy all these marriages no matter how much work or stress and tension which marriages are supposed to cause.
The next morning Vadiyar mama was brought by the cousin and his wife and the Pandakaal Function was held. Yes, in America with all the religious fervour that Pandakaal usually evokes in the family.  My sister in law made this awesome Upuma and Chutney for about 50 of us. After the pandakaal, all of us went to the marriage hall, where the boys had spent the whole of the previous night doing it up, getting the stage ready and so on without sleeping a wink. I never would have believed it, had I not seen for myself how hard my son worked to get the place ready. His cousins were with him every step of the way. My son-in-law's father actually made the Oonjal, unbelievable! with his own hands, just like the Oonjals here in our marriage halls. That too was decorated and Chanti's Kaasi Yaatirai, Maalai Matrudal and Oonjal was done there under the blue sky, outside the marriage hall. The cousin had planted two trees which had apparently been a long pending item of work, and with these and the Oonjal, the place looked beautifula and festive!! It was a bright and sunny day, with no sign of the rain which had come briefly, the previous night.  The open area right outside the hall also our cousin's property was tented up, tables and chairs put and converted into a dining area. Lunch was served there.  The property owning cousins took care of all the permissions and licenses..After the Oonjal, the Poonal Anivithal, Kankanam Anivithal, the Kanyadanam (I wept like a wotnot, it was so emotional), the Panigrahanam, the Mangalaya Dharanam, Thali-kattina-kaikku-Modiram Anuvithal, Sapta Padi, Ammi Midhithal, Metti Anuvithal, the Homam, the Pori Idudhal, the Arundhathi Paarudhal, the Vilayadal, Aaseervadham by the Sabai and all the Perivaa present, all happened kramamaaga Saastrotamaaga.  Grihapravesam was kind of make shift and for form. The marriage forms were signed and my husband's cousin promptly drove to Des Moines to drop it off at the appointed office.  We cleared up a little and then went off home to get ready for the evening.
My daughter had fixed up in a nearby Hilton Hotel for the Reception and Dinner. The girls had two choreographed dances. One from Pavithra's marriage and one for Chanti's. There were toasts and dancing and eating. My daughter wore a peach Anarkali for the first part of the evening and then the beautiful Champagne colored  Wedding Gown for the second part of the evening.  Toasts were raised, Cakes were cut and we all danced till it was time to leave.  The hotel catered the Indian food too, which, right in the middle of the Mid West of America was awesome. The marriage went off without a hitch and considering that we didn't have the advantage of running to the nearest shop to buy some item that is missing, it was amazing that nothing was forgotten.  We even managed an appropriate sized granite stone for the Ammi. That we did leave behind at home, but home was so close, that we could run to it quickly and bring the Ammi  to the marriage hall.
A large number of our relatives including the elderly flew from India and other parts of the world to be present at the marriage.Yes, we did do the wedding in America. Money is, though significant, only one part of it. All the cousins and their spouses of our generation and my son and the cousins of his and my daughter's generation, including the spouses of the two married cousins, rallied around like anything to not only make it happen, but make it happen wonderfully. Thank You. Thank You All.

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