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The Malabar Wedding Diaries - Part I: Intro

10:08:00 pm

As promised, here is a wedding related post! And it is what it looks like, the first in a series of posts where I’d like to elaborate a little on the wedding traditions of my culture, namely Malabar Muslim culture. There’s not a lot of information about it on the net, and so I thought this would be a little door into that world J.

Now, the Malabar region mostly includes the districts of Kannur, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Malappuram and parts of Palakkad. However, I’ll be detailing traditions pertaining to the Kannur district, since that’s what I’m familiar with.

Basically, Muslim weddings in Kannur don’t have too many rituals like other Indian weddings have, with functions like Sangeet, Haldi etc. The wedding is usually limited to two days – the Wedding Eve or Mehendi (for the bride) and the actual Wedding Day, where the Nikaah or solemnizing ceremony is held. This is then followed by ‘salkaarams’ or parties at the bride’s and groom’s homes, where closer family members get to know each other away from the hustle bustle of the wedding.

If you know anything about Malayalis, you’ll know that gold is more than just jewelry to us. Doesn’t matter that prices are skyrocketing, there HAS to be gold at a Mallu wedding. And lots of it too. Whichever city of India you are in, I’m sure there’s an Alukkas or Kalyan Jewellers or Malabar Gold, right?? Yup, that’s us Mallus making our golden presence felt in your city J

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For the Mallus of Malabar, there’s something else that rocks our collective boat – food. Take any occasion here, and food will reign supreme over all other celebrations. The clothes and entertainment all come later. FOOD is of prime importance – and not just in an ‘eat to survive’ kind of way. That’s one of the reasons people here are considered very hospitable, they love to feed others too!! If you’re a guest at any Malabari home, you can be assured of a ‘Kozhi Biriyani’ (Chicken Biryani) at the very least!

[Biryani picture from Rinku’s Kitchen Treats. Click here to go to the recipe]

Weddings here aren’t that extravagant in general (I’m not counting the gold). There’s not really much in terms of entertainment, like a band or DJ. Some families perform a traditional dance called the ‘Oppana’ where the bride sits in the centre, and the others dance around her with synchronous moves that involve lots of clapping. My family doesn’t do this, and I doubt
 how relevant it still is J. Mostly, women of the family sing songs at appropriate junctures of the wedding, and sometimes local music groups are hired to add to the noise. Expenditure on clothes is higher than what they spend on shoes, accessories and the like, but not extravagantly so during weddings. You see, we’d rather buy more gold with that money :-D.

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Wow, this intro post got longer than I intended it to be. But anyway, I assume you’ve got a general idea of the food loving (and glittery) population here. So, I’ll get on with the more specific details in my next post.

P.S. If you’d like to know more about Malabar cuisine, check out this book by Ummi Abdullah, ‘Malabar Muslim Cookery’, available at Amazon.

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16 comments

  1. totally want to check out Ummi Abdulla's book. used to know that it's available in malayalam but had no idea it was there in english too. could you suggest any more english titles that have nice kerala recipes?

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    1. Yup, it's in English too!! There are quite a few other books too, but one I can personally vouch for is 'The Essential Kerala Cookbook' by Vijayan Kannampilly (http://www.amazon.in/Essential-Kerala-Cookbook-Vijayan-Kannampilly/dp/0143029509/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1378440328&sr=8-1&keywords=vijayan+kannampilly). It gives a good idea of dishes from all over Kerala and the recipes have never failed me :-)

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  2. That's a nyc pick on Malabar weddings

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  3. What a lovely post Fab! It gives a beautiful insight into your cultural specialties..I'd love to see outfit posts from your brother's wedding:-)
    Love
    K

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    1. Thank you, Kalyani!! Yup, I'll try to include them too :-)

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  4. From one Malabar Christian to a Malabar Muslim, it is so lovely to see this post and a peek in the culture. I have seen Opanna on television and in Mallu movies a lot of times and find it very sweet. So looking forward to your brother's wedding posts.

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    1. Oh, wow you're from the Malabar too?? I never guessed!! Yup, Oppana seems to be more common on TV and in movies rather than in real life :-)

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  5. A joyous occasion. :)
    eat and enjoy!

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  6. Not just a general Idea got a fair idea. Totally diff from muslim weddings in AP and am aware of the gold in kerala :)
    Interesting post !

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    1. Ha ha, guess our gold obsession is pretty well known!! I'd love to know how weddings are in AP too :-)

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  7. You got me at biryani! :D
    Very nice to know about the customs in different regions!

    Roshni
    http://www.indianamericanmom.com

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    1. It is interesting, isn't it Roshni? A union of two souls, but done so differently across the globe, and even across different regions of the same state!

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  8. our weddings are synonymous to gold and biriyani... you want to see a walking jwellery shop, there it is!!! :) i've the ummi abdulla book and i totally love it!!!

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    1. Ha ha, a walking jewelry shop - bang on!

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