Santosh Anna-vodu Kalyanam

It was 6 pm when I was relaxing at Saroja periyammai's house. I had just finished my usual evening snack periyammai's dosai. We, Sangeetha akka, Santosh anna and myself, were gossiping and planning for the next day's event. Santosh anna was sitting with hands occupied with mehandi. Savitha was busy with her hands being decorated, with mehandi, by her friend. A bus and a qualis were booked for the Baraathees. The vehicles were scheduled for departure at 7.30 am in the morning. We had to reach Salem by 1.30 pm, so that we can enter the mandapam before rahu kalam. We were taking count of who all were going. As we were to cross the border, into Tamil Nadu, we were supposed to give a list of passengers at the check post. At last the list was finalized and it had around 50 people. Nice and fine, as there is space for around 58. We also thought of who all are going to be dropped during return journey - as I was going to leave for Delhi directly from Salem - and who all are going to be added - Ammamma, coming from Chennai, and others. At around 7.00, Seshu mama and family arrived from Karimpuzha. Still there was no news about Balan mama and family. They were supposed to arrive at Palakkad around 9.00 pm. But they got stranded on a train from Kozhikode due to some signal problem and reached at 11.00. They went to Vidyut Nagar and came to Thondikulam in the morning. Sankar came from Trichur at 11.30 by a taxi. Wednesday ended with everything settled and all packing done.
My appa and amma were arriving by Chennai Alleppey at 4.45 am in the morning. Saran and myself were up by 4.30 and reached station on time, only to find that the train is late by an hour. After a long waiting in the cold December winds on the platform, we received my parents at 6.15 am. We had the feeling that we will cause delay in the departure of the marriage party. After a lot of hurry, all of us got ready and the bus left at 8.00 am. On the qualis were aged people, santosh anna's periyappas, athais and athimbers. On the bus were the rest. A few people from Thondikulam and Nurani - periyammai's neighbour, and others whom I don't know. Among our relatives were Saroja Periyammai and family, Kontha mama and family, Balan mama and family, Seshu mama and family, appa, amma and myself. Thrissur periyammai's son and daughter-in-law, Balakrishnan from Karimpuzha and Suresh (Uragam Shantha chithi's son) were also there on the bus. The journey was smooth. We had breakfast, packed from Hotel Hariharaputra, on the way. As expected the menu was very elaborate - idli, pongal, sevai, vadai and pazham - and the food was top class. We had a show of movie 'Vettam', for those who didn't sleep on the way. At last, there we were at the Annapoorna Kalyana Mandapam at 1.25 pm. Quickly all of us were out of the bus and the varavelpu started before rahu kalam.
The arrangements at the mandapam was quite nice. Decoration was simple but beautiful. The hall was of medium size and it seemed that it was full of us only. Not many people from the bride's side were there and we wondered whether the hall is of sufficient capacity. We were imagining what the scene would be if the crowd from bride's side was anything close to Sangeetha akka's marriage. The lunch was okay. Chamayal was Tamil Nadu style. All of us settled down in various rooms allotted in the mandapam. Santosh anna's room was air-conditioned and was very comfortable in the afternoon heat. The sun in Salem was scorching. I couldn't believe that it was winter.
A few relatives had arrived before us. Jayam athai and family, Swarna chithi, chithappa and Ramji, Sangeetha akka's father-in-law etc. Some others reached after us. Janaki periyammai, periyappa and Ammamma arrived in the evening by Kovai express. Jinju akka and Kannan athimber started from Chennai at noon by their car. Due to bad roads, they came at 8.00 pm. Ramamani mama and Kunjan, Thangam athai and athimber, Ananthan athan from Sathy, Deepa akka and family, Ganga akka, Babu anna and family, Jaya akka and family, Latha akka and her youngest kid, etc reached before the reception. Pondichery Radha chithi and Hari chithappa, Girija periyammai and periyappa, came on the day of the marriage.
The mappilai azhaippu and reception were fine. Sankar and myself were the target of everybody right from the morning and it got worse during the evening. Everybody from our side were enquiring, "who is the next bridegroom?" and started pulling our legs, whenever they got a chance. I escaped most of the attacks by giving different reasons - Sankar is elder to me, my PhD will take another 3 years, Sankar is the one who is employed, etc. So at last both of us were made mappilai thozhan. The menu for the reception dinner was north indian. There were a lot of items but I couldnt enjoy my favourite - icecream - because of severe cold. I had such a severe sore throat that I couldnt even speak. The evening was different from other recent marriages that I have attended, because our relatives were all enjoying being from the groom's side. All were dressed up brightly and occupied the seats, gossiping and posing for the camera. It was not easier to get all family members for the group photographs (Remember how much we ran for each person during Sangeetha akka's marriage!).
As soon as I had reached Salem, I had started enquiring about the possibility of a game of cards. On finding that nobody has brought cards, I went immediately to buy 4 packs from the nearby petti kadai. But this was the first marriage that I attended in my life, when there was no game of cards being played by us. In the afternoon, there was not enough time as we had to go to the railway station for receiving people from Chennai. And after the reception, everybody were tired of the day's journey and retired to their respective rooms. Had all of us slept in the hall, there was a slight chance of gathering. Pakshe athu eppadi! Pullai aathukaar allava.
The day of the marriage dawned after we woke up. Most of us were up and ready even before coffee was ready in the kitchen, though the muhurtham was not so early. With the commencement of ceremonies, came the taunts of the previous day. During kashi yatrai both Sankar and myself accompanied Santosh anna. Rest of the day was not much eventful. Except a few words from konthai mama and appa during lunch. The catering was granted fully to the hotel and there was very less supervision. So things were not smooth and this led to a little rise in temper from groom's side. How can a marriage end without a few words of anger from somebody from the groom's side!
Immediately after lunch, people started to pack and leave as many had to travel lot of distances before nightfall. People heading to Chennai were the first. As the bus to Palakkad was to leave by 4.30, nalangu was a very short one, just namesake. In the end, all Baraathees returned leaving behind Balan mama, Akhila mami and myself. There was some function in the evening, which usually is done along with other rituals in the afternoon. After few hours of conversation with Balan mama about marriages and rituals and traditions (topics covered in my previous blogs), I had dinner and left to the railway station to catch my train to Delhi.

After That ...
Santosh anna, Rekha manni, Balan mama and mami came to Palakkad on Saturday. Grihapravesam ceremony concluded nicely on sunday. On sunday evening, there was a party organised at 'Sangeeth'. It was a welcome to the newly-wed couple as well as the Silver Jubilee celebration of Kontha mama and Geetha mami.
As shown in the end of all movies
They lived happily everafter

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