Two marriages under the same Pandal!

Chidambaram Ramachandran had two daughters by name Rama and Uma. When he tried to get alliance for his eldest daughter Rama, he was fortunate to get a desirable alliance for Uma too. As the boy’s qualification and status were good, he happily decided to continue the marriage proceedings.. He arranged for the marriage of both the daughters together. Being a government employee, Ramachandran, calculated by combining both the marriages, all the major expenses can be met and he can conduct the marriage without much strain.

Kamali was Ramachandran’s sister. She had a son named Vembu. He did not continue his studies beyond SSLC and was not a dependable guy.Kamali wanted her son to marry Uma, the second daughter of her brother. But, Ramachandran decided to proceed with the better alliance instead of marrying his daughter to him. This disappointed Kamali and she tried to stop the alliance proceedings saying ‘according to sastras it is not right to conduct two marriages on the same day under a single pandal’. But, neither Ramachandran nor any of the relatives listened and showed deaf hear to her.

Ramachandran fixed the marriage date. He talked with parents of both the Grooms, convinced them and got their permission to have the wedding on the same day. Both the parents were too good to accept his proposal. They did not have even an iota of thought or doubt that such arrangement would reduce their importance..

The betrothal of his elder daughter took place with all grandeur and discipline at the eldest grooms native place Sirkazhi. Some 20 to 30 relatives went with Ramachandran from Chidambaram to Sirkazhi. The menu served at at the nichayathartham was Kesari, Bonda, ‘Malligai poo’ idly and coffee . The betrothal ended well to the satisfaction of everyone.. The second groom’s house was in Tanjore. The second daughter’s betrothal took place on the third day after the first betrothal. Ramachandran carried all the materials needed for betrothal from the girl’s side. But the second groom’s side, conducted the betrothal with all pomp and show grandly. The dinner was tasty and rich and surpassed the quality of even a marriage feast. Both the betrothal functions ended very well and Ramachandran felt comfortable as if he has completed the marriage itself.

There was just a month’s time for the marriage. Ramachandran selected right auspicious days not only for conducting Sumangali Prarthanai and Samaradhanai but also for taking saris for the brides. He planned to place the first invitation at the feet of H.H.Kanchi Periyava and then buy the saris in Kancheepuram directly from the weavers.

Next day being Panchami Thith, Ramachandran decided to buy the saris on that day and even hired an ambassador car for the travel. That night after finishing their dinner everyone had gone to bed, Ramachandran called his wife and said “bring a paper and pen. Write the list I suggest now.” His wife prepared a list as he dictated. Four silk saris each for the two daughters, ‘Mayil Kan’ dhoti for the grooms’, spare dhotis, and saris for the relatives who have to be honored - the rate of the saris, everything was discussed. His wife suggested that they could give higher costly variety sarees as they are having two marriages together and saving.. But Ramachandran flatly refused it saying,” I am celebrating both marriages together only to reduce all these expenses!” He did not reconsider his budget.

Next day, when they were ready to start, two cars stopped at the entrance. The second Sambandhi’s relatives from Tanjore, some 5 or 6, got down from the cars. They had two-three bags and also plates with betel, supari, flowers and fruits. All were wondering at their presence as they had no such chances to meet after betrothal, which is the main function.

Kamali athai, who was drawing water from the well, at the backyard, left the rope as it is and rushed to the front. Without minding the situation, she stated,” I already had warned my brother. If two marriages are fixed together, only one will prosper in life and the other will go down. See! They have brought back all the things we gave for the betrothal. Did the boy refuse the girl?”   “Sister, you please keep mum for some time”, so saying in a harsh voice Ramachandran rushed outside to welcome them all, without showing his feelings.

After all of them settled in the hall, aged paternal aunty of the boy started the conversation. “Mythili, bring some plates!” Immediately the plates were there. “My brother and his wife asked me to present all these to Uma. These could have been handed over even on the day of betrothal. But, then, many were present there and one may not think like the other. Some may feel differently with hatred. So, these were not given on that day before everyone in the sabha. Come here child, take all these things!” She called Uma and gave them all. The articles were: Dark red Koorai Pudavai with palm size jari, Red stoned Addigai, a pair of red bangles, a long chain, 6 bangles, Manga Maalai, pearl jimiki, Mattal, besari, ear ring, one stoned nose ring (of course Diamond). It looked very pretty when all these were arranged in the plates.

By this time Rama prepared Aval (beaten rice flakes) Kesari. As they were planning to get the saris that day, their mother had prepared Vadai for offering to Sri Anjaneya. Rama placed the Vadai and Kesari in the plates and treated the guests. She looked at all the presents given for Uma and appreciated them all. Then she prostrated at the feet of old Athai also. There was not even the trace of jealous seen in her eyes. The experienced lady understood her and blessed her whole heartedly.

After they all had gone, all the members sat round the things and admired at each and everything with awe and surprise! They took the sari on hand and enjoyed the smoothness and breadth of the jari! The stones in the necklace were just inviting them to wear and feel the beauty! Uma’s mother, in order to save her from the evil eye cast on her– if at all anybody had done it- made her sit in the centre and removed the “Dhrushti” using salt and chilly. That is customary act, as you know, in all the Hindu families whenever any celebrating occasion occurs.

Kamali Athai was at a confused state by both her inability to do anything to stop the marriage and jealous feeling. She visited all the neighbors and commented, “I advised my brother even before, not to have the marriage on the same day.  He didn’t listen. They are volunteering to have the alliance. If they offer this many presentation from the groom’s side even before the marriage, is the groom having any physical problem?  Nobody is thinking of all these!  They are not ready to hear my words also!  My brother is in a haste to complete his responsibility!  His wife is also jumping in joy as though she has got something precious and adorable! I am afraid; and I want this marriage should go on well!”

Each one of the neighbors visited the house saying this and that, and had a glance over all those things that were kept in the pooja room.  First Mythili did not smell anything unusual. But later she understood what her in-law had done. She preserved all the things safely in the steel bureau. Their plan to buy the silk saris on that day got postponed automatically.

That night, after all had retired to bed, Ramachandran asked his wife to bring their budget list. According to that list they had planned before to have four saris for each of the daughters. But now he changed it as five for Uma. In the same way he planned to get Silk Dhoti for her would be. He decided earlier to buy rings for the grooms. But now it was converted into chain for the 2nd groom. “How can we show difference between our daughters?” When his wife murmured, Ramachandran convinced her also.

“We don’t feel any difference between the two in our heart of heart! But when they have presented many valuable things for her now itself we too have to equalize it. Our budget will not permit us to do more for both. Parents of the eldest groom are generous and will not mind this. We can compensate them during Deepavali by presenting three sovereigns to their son”. Though Ramachandran was aware that it would not be possible to do so, he convinced his wife by which he consoled himself. He ordered his wife to be careful that his daughters are not disturbed by these changes.

The drama started in the textile shop. When the eldest took by chance a sari with little jari, her mother brain washed showing a magenta colour sari, saying, “How beautiful this is! This will suit better your complexion and beauty. I was just imagining getting you one, like this. This matches my choice best”. Somehow she cajoled and compromised her and selected simple saris for her. She also added, “Uma is less in complexion, so it is essential to select carefully for her”. So saying she selected five saris with more jari work for Uma. Later, commenting that there is nothing to be noted especially in Dhoti selection, she sent here two daughters along with Kamali Athai to have the Darshan of Goddess Kamakshi.

Rama sensed something unusual but was not prepared to suspect her mother and father. That was not in her blood.

On the eve of the marriage, the first Sambhandi arrived from Sirkazhi with about thirty persons in two vans. On the other hand, the second Sambhandi dressed in silk Dhoti and Kurta gave a grand entry with 60-70 relatives in some eight cars and a deluxe bus. The whole street was covered with Pandal. The marriage proceedings were going on energetically. In the eastern end, a house was allotted for first Sambhandhi to settle down with his ward. The second Sambhandhi was made to occupy a bungalow at the western end. There were two persons to attend the peck and call of the residents in that house.  A special care was visually seen in dealing with second Sambhandhi.

After all of them were settled, first coffee was sent to the bungalow. Second offer was given to eastern side house. Finishing their bath, they came to attend “Vratham”. After this piece of the ritual was over, Ramachandran said, “I’ll send the meals to your places. You please go and take rest”. He politely sent them to their respective guest house. Within 15 minutes second Sambhandhi and his people went to take rest with their stomach was full. Here in the eastern side, first Sambhandhi’s people were dull out of hunger.

Sattanathar (first Sambhandhi) murmured, “It is difficult to manage even one marriage properly Poor Sambhandhi!. He is struggling by keeping both the marriages together!” He did not want the bride’s father to be blamed by his own relatives and friends.

“Sorry! It got delayed, please come for Lunch” Ramachandran courteously invited them all and provided the lunch. Of course his first daughter’s marriage should also take place without any problem. Is it not?   “Janavasam is by 6pm, I’ll send coffee, Tiffin during teatime. After refreshing you all please be present for Janavasam” humbly saying he retreated.

Evening at 4 pm. Sattanathar’s daughter’s son, who was about 5 years of age, started crying due to hunger. All were tired as they used to take coffee by 2pm. Since he was a child, he cried and expressed his hunger; others were vexed.  Already Sattanathar has insisted them that they should not disturb the girl’s parents unnecessarily for anything.

In the meantime, the eldest grandson who was after a balloon-man, stopped near the other guest house. There he smelt wheat Halwa and Aaloo Bonda, which were being served for all. He ran to his grandpa and innocently asked “ They are all taking tiffin, are we to go there to have it?”

Sattanathar sensed the truth, but he was not ready to lose his temper. He called Kitta who was close to him and asked him to spy what was going on there. Kitta who was aware of Sattanathar’s character, instead of going there, went to the kitchen directly and asked the cook whether the first Sambandhi’s people were provided with the tiffin items.

The cook bounced on him impatiently out of tension. “See, I can answer only one boss, one by one don’t demand me to do this and that. Already I am burning along with these woods. Just now the girl’s father informed me that some 15 have to be provided with tiffin in the western side guest house. What can I do? All these items must be cooked ready to serve. Milk is boiling. Coffee must be mixed. Hei Cheenu come here! Take all these things to the western side. We can give the eastern side people after this is ready” Kittu narrated A to Z to Sattanathar. He was afraid something negative might happen but he still openly stated everything as to his nature. Sattanathar’s face was not the index of his mind. Nothing could be predicted from the reaction.

By five o’clock, they had their tiffin which was really tasty and palatable. Sattanathar insisted all to have it but he avoided taking it. They all got ready for Januvasam. Sattanathar ordered Kitta to bring the proprietor of ‘Ananda Café’ which was well known in that area. Kitta did as he said. Sattanathar ordered Januvasam dinner from Ananda Café. Why did he order the dinner in Ananda Café? He could have easily demanded it from his Sambandi. Whether the marriages were held without any ill-will? You may have all these questions linger in your mind. Don’t forget them! You will be answered in the next episode