On Saturday I was in Delhi to attend a Punjoo wedding. Technically, it was a half-Punjoo wedding if you take only the marrying couple into question, but given the overall processes, venue, events, guests, etc. it can be classified as a completely Punjoo wedding. Apart from the groom and a handful of his family members, there were only two things Tam at the wedding – presence of curd rice as part of the dinner buffer, and “appdi pODu” during the “L^2 session”.
The groom was Sriwatsan K from Malleswaram, formerly of Katpadi; also known at various points in time as Free Watsa, Bullet Watsa and Katsa. The bride was his colleague Dipti. The wedding took place in Delhi, at the Hyatt Hotel. And it was the first time that I was attending a Punjoo wedding. I had attended a couple of north indian weddings before but those were of UPites, and I had been told that Punjoo weddings were something else.
The wedding had been scheduled for 8 pm but our kind Punjoo host informed us that most Punjoo weddings start at least two hours late. So reaching there half an hour late would be a good hedge, we were told. Unfortunately the groom, being Tam, had arrived on time and the wedding was already underway. The bride was yet to arrive but Katsa was there, sitting on a low stool and doing some random stuff that the Shastri was advising him to do. And he was fully clothed – if it had been a Tam wedding, he would’ve been topless.
Given that none of us had seen his wife before, someone had come up with the idea that she was a figment of Watsa’s imagination, and that we had all been conned into traveling all the way to Delhi for a non-event. And it didn’t help that when we had arrived at the venue, Watsa was sitting alone in the Mantap. So it was only when Dipti made her way to the mantap and took her place next to Watsa that we were convinced that she existed. “She exists! She exists!”, we shouted. And later on during the reception, to make sure she actually exists, we all made it a point to shake her hand. And I must mention here that she walked to the mantap. If she had been south indian, some uncle would’ve carried her there.
All this took place in a small courtyard in the Hyatt compound. There was a reception hall where the event was being telecast live, and the daaru was flowing freely there. And waiters walked around the place serving starters – all vegetarian. I think that is one thing common all over India – irrespective of the marriage parties’ eating habits, food is always vegetarian. Anyway, given the relative space in the courtyard and the “reception hall”, it was as if we were all there to watch the video of the wedding.
Presently, the couple finished getting married and slowly made their way into the reception hall. It had surprisingly gotten over quite soon – it was only 10 pm. This time, we lined up by the sides of the entrance into the reception hall and shouted “Watsa, Watsa” as he passed us with his new wife. I must say we greeted him like he was a triumphant hero. We definitely had fun. I don’t know and don’t care about the rest of the guests at the wedding.
Surprisingly there was no queue at the reception to wish the couple. In most weddings here, as soon as the couple are seated, a queue builds up all the way to the door of the hall. However, while we waited at the end of the short queue, people (relative types) poured in from the other side. Maybe that’s how things work in Delhi. We wanted to shout “poond, poond” but restricted ourselves to just shoving ourselves on stage and wishing the couple (and making sure the bride exists).
The food was brilliant. Unforunately, of late, the standard of food at Bangalore weddings has ebbed. I don’t konw if it with the cooks taking it easy, or with the flawed incentive system (nature of cooking contracts has changed significantly over the years), but of late it’s just not worth going to a Bangalore wedding for the food. In this context, the food here was doubly brilliant. Hogged like I haven’t hogged at a wedding for a long time.
Two weeks back when I had met Watsa in Bangalore, he had shown me the playlist of songs that were to be played at his wedding. I had cringed back then, for most of them seemed like arbitmax Punjoo songs. And while we were grubbing, the noise had started. Yes, it was noise. Random-max songs, at extremely high decibel. And the speakers were just next to the bar, so you had to really torture yourself if you wanted to go grab a drink. And there were no earplugs in supply.
After a while, though, the music got better and they switched to standard Indian dance-party music. As I had mentioned earlier, they even played a Tam song. Much fun ensued. The demographics of the dancing parties was interesting. If this had happened in a South Indian wedding, at least 95% of the people on the dance floor would’ve been under 30. Here, though, a significant proportion included unclejis and auntyjis and maamas and maamis. Anyways, I think this idea of a dance party attached to a wedding is fairly awesome, and should be replicated at South Indian weddings also (there may not be any thanni but it doesn’t matter).
Some married people in our group had initiated NED soon after dinner, and that had turned into collective NED and we were all back to pavilion (aadisht’s haveli) by midnight. Before we returned we went up to Watsa and told him that he has now become a proper Punjoo.