I attended my brother’s wedding, and had a very good time. I have already been dubbed a black sheep by the rest of the extended family. While numerous maamis pointed out with displeasure that I was not following tradition, my close family was just glad to see that I didn’t pack a pair of jeans in my wedding wardrobe, and were absolutely thrilled when I wore some bangles! It is all about setting expectations.
The day I did wear a saree, dozens of people took it upon themselves to impress upon me the graceful look a saree alone can give. One particular aunt declared while pinching my stomach lovingly – “See! How beautiful and graceful a saree is? It is the most decent of attires too!”
Our traditional wedding attire is a 9 yards saree. If ever there was a more confusing manner in which to drape oneself with 9 yards of stuffy silk, please let me know. I would like to see it. My sister and I wore the whole 9 yards for the wedding. Our cries that the girl is the only one who should be in a wedding attire were obviously ill-founded because we found the gasp emanating while voicing such a sentiment the loudest of all. This gasp knew no economic nor educational barriers. So we relented. We dressed like road rollers and steamed about the wedding hall. It took us all of twenty minutes to traverse twenty feet because after every 3-4 steps, some lady would take it upon herself to “rectify” the saree. They would tug at the pletes near the legs, pull near the hip and clasp the saree near the shoulder. Within minutes of the proceedings, my sister’s saree had reached such a sorry state of affairs, that the only option open to her was to whisk my eldest aunt who was an expert at 9-yard-saree-tying to redo the effort.
Now for a bit of family background – my sister is the elder one between us. So, she gets to do the honours whenever a sister of the groom was called for. Since the 9 yard textile mill ream draped around her showed every indication of rolling itself back into a ream again in public, she went to the dressing room with my aunt. My brother, meanwhile, was looking quite harrassed during the proceedings and silently sent pleas for some company on the stage. I went up to the stage partly to give him company, and partly to save my own saree from the self certified 9-yard-saree-rectifiers. I must have looked quite happy chatting on the stage. Everytime I scanned the crowd from the pedestal, folks would mouth – “Where is your sister?” I would mouth something undecipherable and cock my head towards the dressing room. Immediately, they would shoot off like a bunch of rabbits. This got a bit boring after the 102nd time, and I decided to go the dressing room myself till my sister actually finished dressing.
I went in to find my great aunt looking very harrassed and upset. She was pushing past 90, and bustling around tying a 9-yard saree must have been an effort by itself. My sister and aunt immediately accosted me, and asked me how come the main event of the wedding was reached soo soon. The sister of the groom was mainly required for the 2 minute event when the groom ties the “thali” around the bride. The groom ties one knot, and the sister of the groom ties the remaining two. This event was usually preceded by an hour and a half of mantras and followed by another 2 hours. I explained to them that there were nowhere close to the thali event and my aunt could take her time and relax. Now remember, I mentioned all those people scuttling off like rabbits? All these people had taken it upon themselves to summon the sister of the groom. “Sister of the groom wanted!” they would announce loudly, and peek in to make sure things were going along smoothly. This had made my 90+ aunt extremely nervous and she was quite stressed that the wedding was being stalled because of the saree!
Finally, after half the folks had seen my sister standing like a passenger taken aside for checking at an airport terminal, with a 90 year old lady running around her, she was dressed and we ascended the stage together.
My mother glowed with pride – she had achieved the pinnacle of her dreams. Her maverick daughter had conformed! Her son’s wedding was a success.
“How does one use the restroom in this?” I asked.