Akshay weds Ashwini, with panache!
Indian weddings are known for their extravagant celebrations, elaborate rituals and ebullient backdrops. A series of small but noteworthy rituals make up the marriage.
Hotel Dreamland, Mahabaleshwar, was a witness to one such magnificent nuptial, that of Ashwini and Akshay. A South Indian family (Shetty’s) entered in a wedlock with a Maharashtrian family (Deshpande’s), to bless their children, Ashwini and Akshay respectively, a life of marital prosperity and companionship.
Scenes of merrymaking spanned over three days, from January 27 to 29 of 2016, showing that the families and dearest invitees truly soaked themselves in Ashwini’s and Akshay’s connubial euphoria!
Mehendi: 3 to 6 pm
Cocktail party: 7 to 11 pm
The sundry preparations to bring in a frolicsome wedding can put the bride, groom and their families under lot of stress. It is to allay this frisson of excitement running through the newly weds and their loved ones that we have the Mehendi ceremony just before the wedding. Mehendi is more than just an embellishment; it has medicinal and calmative properties to soothe the disquietude of minds. Ashwini and Akshay celebrated this event in a gazebo at the hotel. As bridal mehendi adorned Ashwini’s hands and legs, her romantic spouse-to-be went the extra mile to make sure his blushing bride had her tummy full with a cuppa chai and snacks. On a secret note, this is that time in a wedding when ladies of the house can get their better-halves to serve them unconditionally, and that is another reason why it is such a cherished event!
As dusk approached, the jamboree moved from gazebo to the poolside, and a night of revelry ensued. With karaoke setting in dulcet tones of family and friends, and bartenders displaying their skills with flair, it had surely become a night that would make any singleton skeptical of marriage want to rethink of it!
Haldi: 10 am to 12 pm
Sangeet: 7 to 11pm
Morning started with the haldi ceremony taking place at the gazebo. Tradition has it that turmeric is an auspicious plant, believed to ward off evil spirits. Also, its antiseptic and beautifying properties are well known (among the damsels at least!). Hence, bride and groom indulge in this ceremony as a mark to preen oneself before their wedding. What started as a sober ritual turned into a vibrant occasion when ladies from Akshay’s family initiated the customary holi-with-haldi! At this point, all friends and youngsters grasped the opportunity and jumped in to add effervescence to the festivity.
This, followed by a scrumptious lunch, made way for an evening of performances, music and dance in a viridescent lawn lined with trees and crackers on either sides. Ashwini, an outstanding Bharatnatyam dancer, left the audience in awe with her finesse. Not the one to be left behind in any case, Akshay swept the cheering crowd off the floor with his moves (result of hours and hours of routine practice to match up to his lady love!).
Wedding: 8 am to 4 pm
After two days of gambol and hilarity, came the day when Ashwini and Akshay would be formally tied in a bond of wife and husband. They showed respect for each other’s religious faiths by fusing their respective time-honoured rituals into a string of prominent events leading to their union.
Phetas have been known to be a facade of grandeur for Maharashtrian men, and this belief lives on till date. Gentlemen from Ashwini’s family wore white lungis with yellow phetas, and those from Akshay’s side took to traditional kurtas with red phetas. This theme was followed by all, making the crowd look variegated and royal.
Akshay brought his Baraat in full gusto to Ashwini’s doorsteps, where they were cordially welcomed by her father. No sooner had he stepped in the wedding hall than his eyes started scouting the place to get a glimpse of his wife-to-be. There, came in Ashwini, looking resplendent in a traditional Kanjeevaram saree.
South Indian rituals of Muhurta, Dare(Kanyadan), Saptapadhi, Phere and Lajjahome were performed by the families. These were followed by Managalashtaka and Varmala. “Varmala”, meaning “garland for the groom” is a heavily weaved thread of flowers.
Customs talk about “Swayamvar” where bride would select her husband out of many suitors by putting a garland around one suitor’s neck; it is this tradition that still continues.
A common standing joke is that the one who gives in first and garlands the other person will always listen to the other person throughout their married life. As soon as the priest took the off the curtain separating Akshay and Ashwini, the latter’s cousins picked her up on their shoulders, much to her surprise! Ashwini playfully gave Akshay a thumbs down, that prompted Akshay’s friends to lift him as well. After few minutes of light-hearted teasing, the bride and groom exchanged garlands.
When the couple and elders of the family were busy with serious rituals, the pranksters of Ashwini’s family furtively sneaked away Akshay’s footwear. This unsaid ritual, glorified by the epic Hindi song, “Joote do, paise lo…” is a chance that every cousin from the bride’s family waits for! When Akshay’s father asked for the number of Ashwini’s cousins party to the reward for returning the footwear, pat came the reply from them – 17! Thus a fat envelope was generously given to each of them to have the special footwear back for the groom.
Ashwini and Akshay then greeted all the guests personally. At the end of this, they went ahead to perform the Maharashtrian rituals of Gauri pooja, Jhal, Sunmukh and Lakshmipuja.
Such was the splendor of moments leading to conjugal bliss for Ashwini and Akshay!