Vedashree Khambete Sharma
Maharashtrians, Marriages and Madness
We Maharashtrians, as a people, are not known for being fun. Let’s face it: if you’re looking for a wild night about town, the chances are slim that you’ll look to your Marathi friend to organise one. And so, naturally, Maharashtrian family functions tend to be rather staid, the weddings in particular ranking as the third most boring way to wed, after court marriages and temple weddings.
Punju weddings are nine-day booze-and-dance extravaganzas, where the only one more drunk than the wedding party is the bridegroom. Maadu weddings are 4-day dramas full of showbiz and entertainment, where even the priest cracks jokes. Maharashtrian weddings are a one-day affair, where everybody needs to wake up early and go to office the next day. Back me up here, Jer.
And the most important part of the wedding isn’t the happy couple. Oh no. It’s the gifts. Who-gave-what-to-whom-and-is-it-better-than-what-we-gave-see-I-told-you-the-dinner-set-was-a-bad-idea. All the couple has to do is stand still while people go about performing strange ceremonies around them, sit still while they’re pronounced husband and wife, and later, stand still while being introduced to roughly a thousand people they’ve never met before and will never meet again. It’s a wonder wedding-night sex even happens.
The reason for this outpour? I had to attend a christening on Saturday. One of my cousins gave birth to a bonny baby boy I knew nothing about till that day. I went with the mater and an aunt in tow, sat alone staring around, texting people and then composing this post in my head. For about three hours. And then went and made polite conversation with various female relatives, all of whom were my mom’s age. I saw people cribbing, bitching about the food, critically evaluating the return-gifts and sweet-talking, in the finest traditions of my family. I don’t have the right words to describe the evening.
But I should’ve known it wouldn’t exactly turn out great. I mean, the morning started out fantastically, didn’t it?
I open one sleep-crusted eye to find my aunt peering critically at me. I smile drowsily. It’s a dream, that’s what it is. She gives me a friendly grin and asks, eyebrows waggling, “So… any marriage plans yet?”
Wrong. It’s a nightmare.