Celebration, Food, Malabar
The Malabar Wedding Diaries – Part IV: Wedding Eve and Wedding Food10:22:00 pm
Wow, a Wedding Diaries post after a long break!! These posts are more work than I thought ;-). I finally got a hold of the photos and was busy editing and resizing them. I’ve blurred out a few faces in these – I don’t think it’s fair to put up someone’s snap without asking them, and that would mean a whole lot of people to ask. So I went the
easy route :-).
Be prepared for loads of photos. Loads.
The wedding eve is celebrated with great pomp at the bride’s place, since it is actually the Mehendi ceremony. Most brides avoid wearing a saree on their Mehendi since they usually wear sarees on the wedding day. So, lehengas are generally the top choice. This is the appropriate time for an Oppana performance, where the bride’s cousins and friends sing songs and dance around her.
At the groom’s end too, there is a lot of fun to be had. All the women of the house get Mehendi done on their hands. Everyone dresses up and the groom’s house is decorated with lights. Here is how our house was dressed up for my brother’s wedding:
This is what I wore – a purple and dark blue anarkali with sparkly earrings.
This is my sister’s outfit – a turquoise and purple anarkali with the same kind of sparkly earrings.
And my sister’s mehendi. I forgot to click mine :-(.
The groom and his nephew decided to match each other and went for similar looking kurtas :-)
If you look closely, you’ll see that they even have similar spectacle frames, colored white on the sides.
The groom doesn’t traditionally have an oppana, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t get his share of fun. He is forced to sit down, surrounded by all his aunts, cousins and other female members and then he is subject to some not-so-melodious yet aggressive singing of Mappila songs.
Looks scary, huh? Well, I’m sure the groom’ll agree J.
Coming to the food, I’ve already mentioned that this is one of the highlights of Malabar weddings, nay Malabar life. Non vegetarian food is not just popular, it is pretty much essential at least once a day. There are few vegetarians in
Kerala as a whole, and chicken, beef, mutton and all kinds of
seafood are popular. Nearly every home will have fish for lunch and there’s
quite a variety available too – saltwater fish, considering we live near
the coast and fresh water fish, courtesy our lakes and rivers.
The basic Malabar Muslim Wedding Menu looks like this:
- Welcome Drink – This is usually either a fruit flavored water based drink, or an almond/pistachio flavored milk based drink and is served to guests as soon as they arrive.
- Alisa/Aleesa – It is a porridge-like hash of wheat and chicken, a subtly flavored dish served with sugar sprinkled on the top. This is always served first at a Malabar feast.
- Biryani – Made with short grain fragrant rice, featuring either chicken or lamb. This is the mainstay of a Malabar wedding. It is as essential as the bride and the groom. I’m not kidding here. The supporting actors to this hero are raitha and pickle.
- Payasam – A sweet ending to a hearty meal, this could be any one of the numerous payasams available in Kerala.
- Sulaimani – And finally, so that your tummy doesn’t feel like a heavy rock, a light, sweet sulaimani tea to help your digestive system settle down.
This is the basic menu; nowadays, people rarely restrict their menu to these items alone. There’s also Kerala Porottas, Pathiris, Appams along with other vegetarian and non vegetarian dishes.
For the wedding eve, the menu is a scaled down version of the wedding day. It’s usually aleesa + ghee rice/veg pulao + two non veg curries + payasam.
Then there is this whole ‘Appangal’ system. These are usually traditional Malabar snacks like Unnakkaaya,
etc. These are also common foods prepared during Ramadan.
When a wedding is arranged, the bride’s family sends over boxes of Appangal which are then distributed among relatives and members of the groom’s extended family. This process again takes place soon after the wedding, but this time, the boxes also include sweet meats like halwa and cake. The groom’s family then sends over boxes of all kinds of fruit which the bride’s family distributes among their relatives. Whew!!! Now you know I wasn’t kidding when I said food is an integral part of our lives!!
And after the wedding, there are salkaarams or parties held at either home for close family members, so that everyone gets to know each other a little better, away from the hustle and bustle of the wedding. These parties have pretty elaborate menus with several desserts and non-Malabari fare like Noodles and pasta. I’m going to stop now before someone comes and hits me on the head with a biryani pot. If you’re still hungry for more, check out this delightful little post :-).
So, this ends the penultimate post in the Malabar Wedding Series. Look out for the last post in the series coming soon!!
P.S. All pictures are mine, other than the ones whose sources are mentioned. If anyone has any problem with it, please mail me and let me know!