Tuesday, February 5, 2008

THE NAIR WEDDING

Recent wedding of a Nair girl who is working in my company had prompted me to post this blog. This is something that I have been thinking about for quite some time. A majority of the Nair weddings that I had attended had these elements in plenty and I have been greatly embarrassed by whatever I saw at the wedding functions.

Really speaking, a Nair weeding is the shortest one. Something that gets over in a jiffy. And having seen the wedding ceremonies of many different castes, cultures and religions around the country and the state, I can confirm that the Nair wedding is of the shortest duration among all. No pundit doing pooja, no lengthy rituals. The bride and groom are brought in and seated on the mandap. The groom ties a ‘managalsuthra’ (locally called, tali) on the bride’s neck, which is fastened by the groom’s sister standing behind. They garland each other; the groom hands over the ‘pudava’ (clothes to change into) to the bride, which she receives. The brides father hands over the girl to the groom. The boy and girl take one or three rounds of the ‘manadap’ and then, they are off. All is over in five minutes, at the most. Such a simple function!

But every Nair marriage that I had attended, I saw confusion galore. And it stands out because the marriage function is otherwise a simple one and any aberration of it, looks pronounced.

As mentioned above, in all, there are only four or five steps to do. So where is the confusion? Firstly because neither the groom nor the bride is briefed anything about the function and they walk in to the manadap without a clue. Secondly, it is because of the clash of interest of the elders around the stage who actually conduct the affair.

Normally, a Nair marriage is conducted by the elders from NSS (Nair Service society) that is also called Karayogam. This guy mostly will be the Karayaogam president or the secretary (being an elected position, the people keep changing). There will be two karayogams involved, one that of the boy and the other, the girl. On the podium (mandap) you will see the representatives of both. Obviously, there are ego issues between them - who is smarter between us is the smirk both of them keep on their respective face. The rituals of garlanding, tying the mangalsuthra, handing over the pudava etc varies from place to place. In some places it is done while both are seated and at some places, both in standing position and in other places, girl stands and the boy sits. Now the ego comes. The groom’s guy will say, “let the girl stand up opposite the groom” and the girl (heavily decked up that she is, wearing a 20 KG silk saree, with about two three kilos of gold ornaments on the neck and hands and so much of flowers all around the body) gets up. Then the girl’s guy will say “no no, it is done while they are seated and that is the way we do things here”. You look at the girl by then, she would be like a bird, about to fly, between half sitting and half standing pose, not knowing what to do next! These arguments may or may not continue between the elders. But the embarrassment had already been created. These are easily avoidable conflicts, done with an individual’s intent of showing off. The true hero and heroine of the day, the bride and the groom, you see them on the crossfire, not knowing what to do. Even parents stand there haplessly. For these shameless thick-skinned Karayaogam guys, what difference does it make? Mostly he shows a face as if it is at his mercy that the marriage is happening. Many times, I felt like walking up, lifting this guy and throw him off the mandap. Let me tell you, they are there only to create the confusion. People sitting outside watch this tamasha. (If they really could, a Nair wedding is actually not a ‘seeable’ one, for the whole mandap will be surrounded by videographers and photographers from both sides. Actually, what the audience sees is the posterior of these guys!). For an uninvolved guy, this is indeed fun watching the proceedings, like the comedy of errors…

How do we remedy this? Very simple. It is important for the bride and the groom’s people and their Karayaogam guys’ meets before the function and arrive at common grounds of proceedings. It must be taken into account that unity of command is maintained during the marriage function. One guy directs and that is it. It must be decided beforehand as to who that guy is. The boy and the girl must be briefed properly on what to do. No circuses, just a neat, simple, happy marriage function, please.

It is the responsibility of the elders to make sure not to embarrass the girl, boy or the parents. Consider that it is the happy occasion of the marriage of the boy and the girl and not a show of strength between the Karayogam presidents. Maximum importance must be given to the groom and the bride. Every effort must be made to see that they are comfortable.

Small things these. But let me tell you, a little homework makes the kalyanam a great function to remember and not an embarrassment for the participants.

7 comments:

Nair Service Society said...

Sir,
I came to c ur article on nair marriage accidently.
its a nicely written truth... most people in the community are of similar thoughts but could not avoid this chaos.
righly said, the ceremony is very short and therefore attractive, but these karayogam men make it a tragedy and portraits nairs as bafoons infront of others..

Recently i have attended a marriage ceremony ( of one of such karayogam valyettans daughter's)
at 'vinayaka auditoriam' in ernakulam. In that auditorium if u pay money, threre wil b a lady to direct things in stage.. no karyogam karanavers are permitted . so atlast there is light at the end of tunnel....

I must conclude by saying, that NSS the organising body, led by Mr. Narayana Panicker has not done anything to minimise these bloody karavars chaos. They could have give some instructions to the karayogam members so that the utter confusion can be minimised atlest...

Ramesh said...

Dear Mr.S.R.Nair,
I had the same feeling and I started to search if there are any web sites which can say something about a traditional Nair wedding.

Blaming anyone is not a corrective measure, but is an old Nair style. We should find out and try to implement and let perunna also know.

There may be many to blame karayogam. But young bloods are not joining to change. We cannot act and commend like vellappalli. We should be new era nairs.

I actually would like to have a frequent chat with you, in many views. I am based in Dubai, originally from kayamkulam.

Expecting a reply from you.

Regards

Rameshkumar Nair

Amy said...

Hello,

I came across your blog while attempting to plan my own wedding.

After having seen half a dozen cousins being pushed and prodded by the karayogam guys, reading your post was deja vu!

Honestly, If we must pass around the blame, I'd start with the parents of the couple. With too much money and time their hands, Nairs are inventing ceremonies and compexities, adding to all the confusion.

Cheers!
Amy

Anonymous said...

Nice one Sir. I have a question..Why is there no pooja by Pundits in Nair marriages?

Anonymous said...

saw ur blog while searching for a typical nair wedding ceremony..
what u said is true...

Anonymous said...

That was a good blog and educative too. I am a Delhi based lady and am planning my daughter's wedding in kerala, but very firm that no karayogam people enter the dias or try to create any confusion. Instead we are going to call a pundit to perform thali puja and assist the couple to tie the knot in a spiritual atmosphere rather than unwanted atmosphere that these oldies create in most of the nair weddings!!!

Anonymous said...

Sir
Thank you so much for the information. Good one. We will surely explain each step to both bride & groom. Bride is from Kerala born & brought up outside. And the groom a non malayalee.