Nov 30, 2012

Sumangali pooja...start of the festivities at home

Sunday, Nov 11th....5 days to the wedding!
  
Muthaide Muthaide bagana thogo...Savitri Savitri bagana thogalthini

...amidst laughter, smiles, this beautiful prayer and a blessing is shared between the happily married women(Muthaide) in the family and the bride-to-be (Savitri)...the  Mora with the auspicious token is given to the Muthaide and the bride-to-be seeks the blessing...
...the bride-to-be is blessed by the elder women to find happiness in her marriage, have the ability to walk shoulder to shoulder with her husband in life and in death and have the courage to fight with Lord Yama (the Lord of Death) for her husband if the case arises...just as Savitri did for her beloved husband Sathyavan...

4 months ago, when the question arose regarding the Sumangali pooja venue, in a blink of an eye, it was decided that the Pooja would be held at 1 Yardley street, the beautiful home of the bride's aunt Prabha Nagaraj or Prabha dodamma (elder mother) as Purni calls her. Pooja at home would be followed by a festive lunch at the Udipi temple.

The Sumangali pooja  as mentioned in the earlier post, is done to invoke the blessings of women from the bride's family, who have lived long and are enjoying prosperous family life with their husband. This is always done earlier to a marriage in the bride's family.Auspicious items like Haldi-Kum Kum, comb, mirror, earrings, bangles, blouse piece and a Saree, Betal (Pan) leaves and betal nut along with fruits and flowers are given to 5 or 7 or 9 women and 1 or 2 young girls. 
Traditionally all of the items is given in a Mora (also called Soopa in Northern India) made of cane and hence called Morada Bangana in Karnataka.

Menus were discussed, invitees listed...and specially designed Evites from Ashwini Acharya Inc were sent out...the Moras were hand painted, the haldi kum flowers were created, the betal nut dolls were ready...the 5 types of grains were put into snack bags, the blouse pieces were folded...All were placed in the Mora and the plates to be given to the Muthaide's on Sunday Nov 11th...

4:30 AM EST
Prabha Chitti and Shyla are up...take shower and come down to start cooking that special lunch for the nine Muthaide's. Prakash Uncle gives company,.. Coffee gets brewed...vegetables are cut...Sambar, Rasam, Godju,...simmers on the stove. Pahlya follows next....and ends with Khus Khus Payasa...Nah not allowed to taste, but we know that the food will be awesome...after all the MasterChefs from Edison and Tampa are holding the fort...
All through the cooking, there is continuous talking...oh yes...we women talk so much and so loudly!!! this Hassan gang of women cannot be quiet!...say many a men sleeping in the adjacent room...

7:00 AM EST
Purni is up...and the Haldi (Turmeric) ceremony begins, with Ashwini/Anpu/Jay/Lynne/Shyla/Prabha chitti appling the turmeric+milk+cream paste on Purnima...and then oiling on her hair. Turmeric to bring in the glow (this is to bring in the extra glow on her face after Raja and the Love happening) and cream to moisturise the skin ...oil to make the hair soft and silky for the special day...
(Amongst us Indians from the South of India, only a bath/shower that involves washing the hair soaked in coconut or Castor oil is considered purifying or sanctifying. A plain body bath is not!..)

13 women in the house!...imagine the chaos!!...Saree's needed to be draped, Hair had to done, Makeup...and then the petticoat string slips!!pallus become loose...more time  wasted! then starts.."you think I am ok" sessions...is my tikka right?....ille...wear a big tikka!! In my time, we never wore...." Is my hair jooda right? Centered?....shall I wear this kundan jooda pin or this navratna one? Bolo...bolo...
Crazy but such fun conversations...

By this time, the men are getting restless, waiting for the women to finish getting ready and empty the rooms, so they can get ready...and then starts...i just need 5 min's to dress up...you women need at least an hour!!..aah my dear Uncles...don't you walk around like you have won a lottery, when you see your pretty women all dressed up?..so hang in there,...and wait...for your turn...

Purnima is looking gorgeous in her green and violet Saree...and is getting her hair done ~ the typical Madrasi style...Hair ready, it is time to decorate the braid with flowers...hmmm, this is not her style...No help!...this is not her!!...180 degree turn...she is going to revert to a simple style...hmmm...she is the bride...and this is her day...she needs to feel good and happy ...let her be folks...doesn't she look gorgeous...


Psst...
-we had picked up about 8 dozens of safety pins in silver, gold, small, big,...even Nappy pins for the Saree pleats
-Double scotch tapes...to be used to stick the dress/blouse seams to the skin ...no peeping, pls, especially with those Choli style blouses....
-Swear on Saree bags...put all required into the bag - Saree, petticoat, blouse, jewelry, purse...so there is no last minute confusion or items missing...

 10:30 AM EST
All are ready...Our nine Muthaide's and 2 lil girls... the weather is fantastic...the bride comes down ...Amidst oohs and aahs, cameras go Click...click.  Saree's are checked out...latest happenings discussed...oh yea lots of gossip! told you it is a ladies function...more pictures are taken...Purni keeps smiling and posing. Then everyone goes to the driveway and the rituals begin...
-Wooden mane's are placed on the ground and all the Muthaide's stand in a row...the women look so beautiful...in their beautiful kanjevarams...
-Shyla washes everyone's feet with warm scented water...Mangala wipes everyone feet Click Click...the feet are all pedicured...and with the painted nails and the toe rings,...they look divine
-Shyla then puts a dot of turmeric by the side of each ear on each lady on the other side of teh palms and on the feet...
-Then Flowers are distributed to all the ladies
-then Purnima and her family go in a circle surrounding the women thrice similar to the pradikshna...
....More pics taken...




Then Shyla and Purnima give the Morada bagane to the women and seek blessing...while singing...
Muthaide Muthaide bagana thogo...Savitri Savitri bagana thogalthini
Finally the Pooja is done...time to leave for the Udipi temple for teh lunch...
Sorry for the longish post...hope you enjoyed...

Nov 13, 2012

...some Wedding traditional crafts, favors and gifts

...the fun part of any wedding is the preparation for the different events leading upto the maraige.
The minute, we knew the wedding was fixed, we started coming up with ideas for the gifts, favors and the decor. Having come back from Mumbai late last year and having been introduced to some fabulous shops in Mumbai by my cousin Sandhya...we had the gifts pretty much nailed down. Pinterest helped us hugely for the decor and the favor ideas...

Some glimpses of the wedding gifts, favors and traditional crafts created for the wedding...

For the Sumangali pooja (Also the Suhagaan pooja)

This pooja is done to invoke the blessings of women from the bride's family, who have lived long and are enjoying prosperous family life with their husband. This is always done earlier to a marriage in the bride's family or earlier to a Munji (thread ceremony for a boy). Auspicious items like Haldi-Kum Kum, comb, mirror, earrings, bangles, blouse piece and a saree, Betal (Pan) leaves and betal nut along with fruits and flowers are given to 5 or 7 or 9 women and 1 or 2 young girls. This is tradinally given in a Mora (also called Soopa in Northern India) made of cane and hence called Morada Bangana in Karnataka.

Our earlier thoughts were to get cane baskets and use them as the Mora...but I wanted the traditional mora...and had planned to make 18 mora's out of paper mache...Crazy! probably yes..! Anyway, as luck could have it, my friend Vara from Bangalore was travelling from Bangalore to Atlanta on work...and he got me the moras from City market in Bangalore...
After giving it a wash in turmeric, I painted some Rangoli and Alpana designs on the mora's...Rangolies and Alpanas are painted in front of every door, to welcome Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. I then painted some Warli designs performing the different day to day activities that are part of the wedding preparations...




 Betal nut dolls - Made of the round betal nut and draped in ghagra made of the chunari fromVaishno devi, these dolls are so special. zWhen we had visited Vaishno devi last year, we had prayed for all, including Purni... hence a doll representing the devi seemed apt. Two betal nuts and a wine cork did the trick...




Haldi Kum Kum flowers - These are made of stocking material and have Haldi (Turmeric) and Kum Kum powders in the middle of the flower...




For the Mehendi - Candles from Ikea were painted with henna designs and then sealed using Mod podge and decorated with white stones for the subtle bling effect...




Gifts - Mumbai's Crawford Market is a haven for shopping for wholesale stuff...Jewelry, bags, clutches...yes you guessed it right...most of the gifts came from Mumbai





For the Bridal shower - beautiful bracelets were made with pearls by Shyla (the brides mother), and her Tampa friends Dr.Swarna, Chaitra, Vani, Shanta, Dr. Sudha and Geeta... 



Hope you enjoyed the post...


Nov 12, 2012

...finally the wedding events begin...

Saturday, Nov 10th' 2012

Kirtan at the Singh household...



Saturday Nov 10th dawned sunny, bright and crisp...a great start to the week long ceremonies and events leading to the Nov 17th wedding of Purnima and Raja. We were to attend the Kirtan or the Gurmat Sangeet, at the Singh residence later in teh morning...
The Iyer family were excited, as this was probably the first time, many were to attend a Kirtan,..  And, admist laughter, talk and some dinchak music, we reached the Singh residence (on time)!!
...It is said that a home reflects the people who reside in it...and the Singh home stays true to the saying. Following a fabulous breakfast and greeting-meeting Raja's family, the Kirtan, or Gurmat Sangeet began. The kirtan  is always held at the start of any auspicious event to request or Ardas the blessings of the Akal Purakh to remove all obstacles and ensure all activities are completed successfully...the melodius soothing chants of the hymns touched the soul of every individual present....followed by the Anand Karaj annoncement and introducing the bride & groom's parents.
The kirtan ended partaking the yummy Sheera prashadda followed by more meet and greets and lunch...

What a beautiful start to a week long wedding extrangavanza...!!

PS: the food was delicious...Dahi Balaa, Saag Paneer, Bindi masala, Chole, salad, the yummiest Kadi and Pakode and hot Naans coming straight from the oven or the Sigidi. this with Kulfi and Rabdi falooda...was kind, and didnt want to upset my dear friends...hence no pictures of the awesome food...

At the kirtan...


...fathers of the bride and groom...



Raja's parents...


     the vivacious Shashijee...


beautiful ladies... the two moms together...



 Soman Uncle...one of the nicest people, I have come across...and yes I was humbeled, when he served me...

the bride and myself...

Nov 7, 2012

Shopping for the Shaddi

April  to Oct 2012...Clothes Shopping

Folks who have met or known Ashwini, know that she is such a enterprising and vivacious individual. So when the respective parents were getting to know each other, Ashwini had browsed some sites on the internet (some!! no...it was practically the entire Internet - that is why I call her an enthu cutlet!) for the wedding clothes, jewelry, d├ęcor, menu…

One morning I get a call from her;
Ashu: Anpu Akka, we have tons to talk. I checked out some sites (I know, she means the internet!), and checked out these real pretty outfits. It has to be elegant, stylish, have loads of BLING as we have to fit into the Punju crowd,... (now we southies don’t wear bling! The only bling is the Jari on our Kanjeevarams and in our gold ornaments!). So I am coming to your home this evening and lets go over the outfits and the sarees for the wedding. Have to get the stuff for Mom, Dad, Purni, Sanju, Sahana, me, you, jay...

Me: sure...come home...lets checkout everything. Dinner is Aloo paratas and saag paneer...

What followed was an evening of fun! Very soon, Sabyasachi and Manish Malhotra became houshold names to the family, actors - Kareena and Priyanka's sarees were the hot favorite!...every Bollywood do was checked out...be it on Sify or Desi Masala or the Desi soaps!
And not to forget the south Indian sites for the Kanjeevarams and jewelry.
Gmail and iphone messages were clogged with pictures...extended family, friends and their moms...(who are our moms too...) pitched in. Chiffon sarees, kanjeevarams were checked out, beaten to death by the time it went through all the reviews...Finally, we had short listed the styles, colors and what to wear at the wedding.

Shyla was to travel to Mumbai and Bangalore to pick up the chudidhar kurtas, sarees, jewelry, silver, gifts. Mumbai is great for shopping...Shyla and my mom probably visited every store in Santacruz and Bandra and checked out outfits and sarees. My mom swears, she didnt have as much fun as she had shopping for Purni's wedding... Purni was to travel to Mumbai for a week and pick up the wedding outfits!

Talking about the Bling factor, Purni and Ashu:

Purni is the quiet, understated, less is more, very elegant types...
Ashu is the elegant but BLING BLING types and has the panache to carry off anything under the sun and look awesome. But when you are the bride, and need to standout amongst the rest at the wedding and parties, some amount of Bling had to be infused into Purni's trousseau...
Enter Pushpa aunty (Ashu’s friend Bindhya's mom from Pune), who is the designer behind all Bindhya’s beautiful clothes (with some and lots of bling). Aunty being such darling, promised to come to Mumbai and help Purni with the outfits…and ensure (secret conversation with Ashu & Bindi), the BLING factor would be present in Purni’scollection. Sure Hansa Aunty (Raja's mom) is smiling...
Adithi's (another friend) designer Anjali in Delhi was recruited to make Ashu’s outfits…gorgeous ones, and befitting for the sister of the bride…
Sandhya, my cousin introduced us to her jewelry friends leading to the jewelry gifts...
Family and friends traveling back to Tampa/NJ from India, were recruited to carry some luggage…and everyone obliged…Aren’t all sweet...

Bombay Shopping - the trousseau was purchased at Bandra ; the wedding Lehenga and Sangeet outfits at ‘Friendship’ in Santacruz; Lots of elegant chiffon sarees and jewelry was purchased at Ghatkopar and Sion, Mumbai…Jewelry for gifts from Crawford…
Bangalore shopping – Kalanjali in Mantri Mall; Mr. Sareewala at home, Rajajinagar

 

Meet & check out the guy session

6 months ago...


So earlier to the ‘Proposal’ happening… but after the “Like turns to Love”, Raja went through the family ‘meet & check him out’ sessions….

First to meet was elder sis Ashwini and brother-in-law Ravi!

Ashwini is a typical elder sis, responsible, loving, candid and protective of her younger sis….
Ravi, the dear BIL/the elder brother, very pragmatic, responsible, a Suljha hua insaan (man of today’s world). Raja had to pass successfully in the Ash-Rav review. I am sure Purni was a wee bit nervous…probably ate up all her nails, while she waited for Ashu & Ravi to give the verdict....Raja got the thumbs-up! Phew!!

And then Raja went through the 5000 questionnaire session, when he met Uncle Nagaraj - starting from ‘how old are you?; where do you work?…to going back to 3 - 4 generations in India…
Raja breezed through the session! Uncle liked him and said “He is a nice boy and comes from a family like ours”. This is big coming from Uncle Nagaraj! Now Uncle Nagaraj is the eldest in our family…to-date we discuss and get his okay on everything – home, cars, job, etc.
It feels fantastic, when people who have known you all your life and the elders in your family approve and are happy about the guy, you are getting married to. No matter what, these folks, know you better, have seen the world and have experienced life more…

Thank the lord; Raja comes from a family similar to ours.
We poured over the Singh facebook pictures (Love the picture where Raja’s parents are doing balle balle…((expecting some awesome dance moves by Uncle and Aunty Singh at the wedding)))
My cousin Veena and friend Jasmine, helped us to get acquainted with the Punjabi culture....

Then the Proposal happened!!...followed by the engagement at Raja’s place…



Nov 6, 2012

...Prayers & Good wishes come back as a blessing...

...12 months ago...

...like most Indians from desi land, I believe in the power of the Almighty, especially in lord Ganesha. With good faith, reverance, bhakti and shradda, visit the Ganeshji at Siddivinayak temple in Mumbai for 5 Tuesdays, offer 10 - 25 coconuts, and hearts desire will be fulfilled...My mom had done this ritual 36 yrs ago for Shyla (Purnima's mom), a week later, they had received a proposal from Prakash uncle and were married 3 months later. So nearly 12 months ago, a week before the date I was leaving for India, Shyla calls and asks me to visit Siddivinayak and pray for Purni...Pray that the right person comes into Purni's life, that she makes the right choice and she is happy.

Just as in most homes, there is always a lot of discussion around the definition of marraige...how it has (or has it, in the real sense?) changed from the times of our grandparents and parents. A good marriage is one where there is compatibility physically, mentally and spiritually. Compromises happen, but not when it is forced. Choosing the right partner is critical...

Being a die hard desi, we prayed at every temple and shrine, we visited... Siddivinayak, Vaishnodevi, the Golden temple...and the Soumaya Keshava temple at Nagamangala...

...yes, the gods were pleased!!...as my grandmother used to say "Prayers and good wishes always come as a blessings...keep praying and do good"

PS - Keep an eye on the Chuniri from Vaishnodevi...
 

...and the little girl grows up


...she was born on the full moon day, a beautiful baby and was aptly named 'Purnima'...
...when she was six, she swore, she would never have a boyfriend or ever get married!! Boys were horrible. We got her to sign a paper saying the same...
...she hated to shop but loved to read...Barnes & Noble was her favorite stop...
...she loved her sister Ashwini...No she hated her!...ahh those horrible arguments that they would have...
...and she grew up... to be slender and graceful, with a lovely smile, and a sense of humour, her mahogany colored skin that caught everyone's eye,... her limpid eyes, dark and sensuous...
...and then she grew up...made some many fine friends, learnt to love to shop, to laugh over the fun stuff that life brings,...also not the fun stuff
...she learnt to smile and not roll her eyes, when she was introduced to those not so 'Cool' guys...
...and then she met him! friendship became something more..Like turned to Love...
...Christmas, rolled into New years and then came Valentines...everyone waited with bated breadth for the proposal!...
...and then he proposed at their favorite coffee shop...over a menu of their favorite dishes...she smiled and laughed and said 'Yes'...

...2 weeks to day, Purnima and Raja will be married, we start this wedding dairy...a place to put down those darling notes, as everyone dear start arriving to attend the wedding...
All the preparations and fun stuff that go hand in hand...those endless conversations...those slimming tricks for the brave...lots to share as we prepare for Purnima & Raja's wedding extrangvanza...