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The Malabar Wedding Diaries – Part III: Wedding Prep

10:34:00 pm

So now that the wedding has been fixed, it’s time to get on with the preparations!! This is one aspect of weddings that probably induces the same kind of feelings in families across the globe, but more so in big fat Indian weddings – excitement, happiness, anxiety, stress and a gamut of other emotions!

Like I mentioned in my previous post, the new couple live at the bride’s house, so the preparation of the bridal room or ‘ara’ starts now. Usually, a room on the top floor is given to the new son-in-law, with extra features added – new furniture, curtains, A/C, bathroom fittings, maybe a TV. This is a key area for most bride’s parents – wedding guests usually visit the ara and the bride’s family would want it to look as best as they can afford it to be.

Other than that, the main task for the bride’s family would be shopping – for gold. It is usually a big deal, with relatives tagging along. The bride’s wedding outfit is traditionally bought by her extended family on the father’s side, although nowadays no bride would dare leave such a humongous decision to a third party!! The outfit for the wedding eve, or her Mehendi night is bought by her older brother or brother-in-law, again a tradition that is gradually dying, with our brides taking a stand and making their own choices :-). If you’re wondering about the bride’s trousseau, go to the next paragraph.

The groom’s family needn’t worry about fixing up a room. Yes, there is a bit of gold shopping involved, since immediate members of the groom’s family are expected to present the bride with little gifts of gold, apart from the ‘meherthat is mandatory for the groom to give the bride during the Nikaah. But the main shopping for the groom would be shopping for the bride’s petti or box a.k.a her trousseau.

The bride’s box?? At the end of the wedding day, when the bride and groom head for her residence, the groom takes along a suitcase. It usually contains at least a set of clothes for each of the main members of the bride’s family – her parents, siblings, siblings’ spouses and kids, grandparents, maternal uncles and their spouses. Yes, maternal uncles are very important in a matrilinear society!

But the petti mainly contains clothes for the bride – salwar suits, sarees, night wear, lingerie, footwear, bags – pretty much a complete wardrobe, along with other essentials like bed sheets, towels, cosmetics etc. Isn’t being a bride the best job in the world?!

Then of course, there’s the shopping for the bride’s and groom’s families' wedding outfits. Here is a sneak peek into ours:

This is the saree I’m planning to wear for the wedding (Silky Weddings, Kozhikode).

My sister’s lehenga from Kalyan Kendra, Kozhikode.

My sis and I also got these round pins custom made for us to wear on the wedding day. Some people think we’re nuts, but I think it’s cute…and so very funky!! I got the idea from a website, but I don’t remember where; we got these made a while back.

Then there’s the usual wedding prep that’s common on either side– booking the pandal guys, arranging transport, booking beauticians (in the groom’s case – for his sisters, cousins etc.), wedding invitations and most importantly, booking caterers.

We went with blue invites since we were tired of seeing the same old white and red versions.

There’s also the not-so-pretty part including loads of dust, paint smells, workers’ messes…and the odd unhinged door.

Traditionally, weddings are held at home, in which case, the bride’s and groom’s families make their own catering arrangements. However, nowadays, since people are opting for wedding auditoriums or hotels, a common caterer is hired. Special meetings are held by both parties to decide the menu, and much deliberation ensues – after all it is one of the highlights of a Malabar wedding! I’ll talk about the food in some detail in my next post – so watch out for some yummy pics :-).

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  1. Wow this reminds me of my pre wedding days, the excitement, the shopping. I do miss being a part of weddings now that I live so far away. And attending weddings is certainly more fun than being in them. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Aww, thank you Shefali!! You're right, attending weddings and enjoying them are completely different to organizing them!