At long last December is beginning to feel like December and the Tibetan Sweater Sellers are on our streets again. The slight chill in the air makes dressing up for weddings all the more enjoyable and I can wear my thick Kanjeevaram silks or brocade sarees without having to worry about sweating profusely throughout the ceremony.
With this season, weddings have finally come to the next generation. Around thirty years ago I was attending the weddings of my friends and contemporaries, this year I am attending the weddings of their children. The torch seems to have passed on to another generation of young people who will spend the next twenty years nurturing families of their own!
All the weddings I’ve been to so far have been beautifully decorated with flowers and swags a hint of modernity and the occident mixed with the old. Gone are the days of marigolds and mogras instead we have orchids and lilies and sprays of flowers decorating the marriage halls. Gone too are the days when weddings were chaotic instead we have almost choreographed rituals with the guests sitting patiently through the ceremonies. Sequins, borders and panels with designer blouses and detailed accessorization have brought the ancient saree into the modern world , Thai curries and pastas have transformed the traditional wedding repasts into new age feasts where counters of multi cuisine have replaced the sit down meals and most grooms come to the venue in a cavalcade of cars rather than astride a horse escorted by dancing relatives.
But somethings remain unchanged : the actual rituals of marriage.
To most people who are witnessing the ceremony the rituals appear meaningless and boring especially since the prayers are droned out by the priests. However, a booklet given to me at a friend’s wedding made me realise the significance of their deep underlying sanctity and romance. The seven steps that are essential to a Hindu wedding are the cornerstone of the marriage. In this seemingly quaint and old fashioned ritual when the bride walks demurely behind her groom hand in hand with a shawl draped around their shoulders further binding their ties together, the couple promises each other
Abundant food with the first step,
Physical strength with the second step,
Adequate material wealth with the third step,
Mutual happiness with the fourth step,
Commitment to raise ideal children with the fifth step,
Appreciation to face and enjoy the blessings of each season with the sixth step,
Inseparable friendship with the seventh step.
What can be more beautiful than that?