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Kalyanathil Galatta - 7

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by Rrg, Oct 18, 2018.

  1. Rrg

    Rrg Gold IL'ite

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    Kalyanathil Galatta - 7


    Dear All,

    Here I am with one more episode of my "Kalyanathil Galatta" series.

    Most of you would be familiar with my earlier stories. Those stories described some misunderstandings between the sambandhis or ego clashes normally reffered to as 'sambandhi sandai' (SS) threatening the conduct of marriage and asto how the situation got resolved.
    A word on 'sambandhi sandai' ( sambandhi fight) : Ego clashes bound to occur wherever there is a gathering of people, more so when they are made to stay together for a couple of days. Marriage is one such occasion.
    Invariably in many of the olden day marriages, such clashes originated from some characters (who mattered in groom's family) out to settle personal scores or to show off their importance. In fact, these situations can not be described as 'sandais' (fights) as mostly they were onesided, with groom's side going on the offence and bride's family trying its level best to diffuse the tension by yielding to various demands helplessly or till a good samaritan turned up to usher in some settlement between the groups.
    Presumably, due to lack of any other entertainment, these episodes got discussed later on in family gossips as to how 'heroic' (or 'villanous' as the case may be) a particular character had been in demanding / ensuring justice. This is how many such episodes came to be known to subsequent generations, by word of mouth. In the process many a times these stories 'grew ears & noses' (got exaggerated) as times passed on.

    Kalyanamam Kalyanam !!
    “Kalyanaththil Galatta”
    “ Neer enna periya idhuva?” - K. galatta 2
    'Mappillai Murukku!' or was it .....'
    'Koora Pudavaya?' - K. Galatta 4
    Kalyanaththil Galatta -5 - Thailamba mamiyin thaniththuvam
    Case of the irregular bowel movement - Kalyanathil Galatta -6

    Year 1957:

    Ours was a large family, with many cousins of various ages. One can be rest assured of at least one marriage every two years, if not more frequently. The marriage we are now going to attend is my eldest cousin sister’s on my mother’s side. She was 27 and I was 6 years old. You can very well appreciate the spread. Even the present incident I am reporting on ‘hear-say’ basis only.

    Those days 27 years for a bride was considered very old. Unfortunately, some planetary placements in her horoscope ensured that very few of the boys, who had a matching dosha only could be considered. In fact, when she was 25 itself, we could locate a ‘boy’ whose horoscope matched well. But, when it transpired that he was a habitual smoker with a liking for egg omelettes, he was discarded. (Both were a big ‘No, No’ in a Tambrahm family).
    The search went on for 2 more years with no luck. Finally, out of exasperation, it was felt that there was no harm in getting my cousin married to him, so long as he doesn’t smoke or demand NV at home. As luck could have it the guy also remained single till then. Thus the first marriage amongst my cousins got fixed. We were all thrilled.

    The marriage lasted for 3 days. Normally in cities, these marriages took place in the choultries/ halls specially built and rented out for this purpose.
    Major rituals spread over these days as follows:
    First day : vradam, naandi (homage to ancestors), janavasam, nischayathartham.
    Second day : kasi yatrai, garland exchange, oonjal, muhurtham (including kannigadhanam/ panikgrahanam), nalangu, reception, consummation (normally elders refer to this as nuptials).
    Third day : paaligai karaiththal with kummi, kattusadam. (Sambandhi sappadu - return feast from groom's side to bride's relatives).
    ( I am not elaborating these rituals for brevity sake)

    The marriage choultry had a couple of big halls, main hall for conducting marriage and the other one for meals. There were only 3 rooms – one each for the bride’s & groom’s family, with the third one for keeping provisions etc for cooking. This was called the stores. Normally, some ‘ilichchvayan’ from girl’s side will get stuck as store keeper. He would remain permanently there, through out the function, and would be responsible for distributing provision to the cook as and when required. Special attention was to be kept on cashew nuts and kismish (dry grapes), which were premium items.
    At night, all guests slept in the main hall only, in rows & rows, on thick big carpets spread for the occasion. There used to be a stiff competition for getting a place directly under the fan.
    One or two groups would be playing cards in a corner, kasu vatchu, throughout the night. The cooks used to be the noisiest lot amongst them.
    One group would go for night show in the nearby theatre and return very late. Over all the marriage atmosphere used to be lively with everybody enjoying it, excepting perhaps the bride's father.

    Just outside the hall, there were a row of bath rooms & lavatories for the common use of all guests. Incase of early muhurthams, there used to be quite a competition for using these facilities.
    There were no water heaters in the bath rooms. Anyone who required hot water for bathing need to collect & carry them in buckets from the kitchen only.
    Getting hot water in the mornings was not that easy, as the cooks would always be busy cooking. One had to be influential - meaning a close relative of the bride or the groom.

    Coming back to our marriage, everything was fine till Vratham started. The ‘groom to be’ went with the Sastrigal’s assistant for changing into panchakachcham, the traditional type of wearing the dhothy. Suddenly the assistant came out running and said something to the Sastrigal. He got up and rushed to the dressing room. On seeing something amiss, the bride’s father, my uncle also rushed after him. We could only hear some arguments from inside the closed room, but no one was coming out. As minutes dragged on, it was the groom’s father who went in. It took about 15 minutes for them to come to a resolution. They all returned back to occupy their respective places for the vratham, but my uncle looked visibly upset. Vratham went on. Even during the evening functions my uncle was not his normal self.

    Early next morning the groom, after having his bath, was taken to the dressing room and given the muhurtham dress. The Satrigal’s assistant was waiting outside to help him with panchakachcham. The groom was shocked to see that there was no underwear kept for him to wear. There was only a long white cloth tied to a white thread. He shouted for his dad. His dad, my uncle, satrigal and all that mattered was there forthwith.

    “What is this?” the groom demanded, displaying the white cloth with string attached, and “where is my underwear?”
    “Kaupeenam. Komanam Purusha lakshanam, says our scriptures” the Sastrigal replied.
    “But I need my undies. Yesterday you all agreed for my wearing underwear for vratham but why this sudden change?”

    Now, my uncle took the offensive. “Forget your undies and mundies from now on. I would have ensured your wearing Kaupeenam for yesterday’s function itself, but kept quiet as you were not a part of our family then. All in our family wear kaupeenam only, be it my father, grand father or my sons. Nobody touches these modern underwears even with a barge pole. Now, for the muhurtham you will wear Kaupeenam only. From now on, please make Kaupeenam your undergarment”.

    Groom looked at his parents for support. But, was disappointed by their lack of any initiative.
    Now the sastrigal started,”You see, the readymade underwears were only fashion and would never give the comfort of komanam. The readymade underwears lead to infertility problems in men because they are too tight. But, komanams are unique. To each one his komanam. Look at our ancestors. They had no problems of be getting children. Also, komanam is for controlling your senses. Your wife represent your senses. By wearing it she will follow you everywhere. You will be the boss”.

    The groom was furious at this uncalled for intrusion and explanation.
    “Komana Sastri, will you please keep quiet?” he shouted.

    “What if I don’t agree to this marriage, if I am not allowed my underwear?” groom demanded.
    Here his mother stepped in and cooled him down, saying “Look, it is for only one day you need to wear this. After marriage, do as you please. Who will control you? Please don’t do anything foolish at this stage”.

    The things were brought under control and the marriage went off without any further hitches, even though the groom remained grim through out. It was much later that he came to know that the bride had met his parents on the engagement night itself and pleaded with them to convince him to wear komanam the next day. The groom’s parents agreed mainly for honouring the bride’s sentiments.

    Be that as it may, later on through grapevine I came to know that the groom had changed after marriage and had become ardent supporter of komanam wear. So much to my cousin’s credit. They ended up having seven kids.
    I also heard that the groom’s mother was also successful in komanafying her husband on the pretext that all doctors recommend it for prostate related issues.

    Now, none of the players is alive. On reading this they all may be having a good laugh wherever they are. I am not sure whether Komanams are used there, though.


    Anbudan,

    RRG
     
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  2. jayasala42

    jayasala42 IL Hall of Fame

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    In 1957 I was 15. I have witnessed so many marriages in the village in the houses and in veda paata salas. I have seen so many sambandhi sandais on various issues-'mama was not given proper reception, coffee was watery,sambar was tasteless,rasam was like urine etc etc ,but never heard of a 'pinakku' in the name of kaupeenam. Undegarments were very common from 1948 onwards.
    The incident seems to be over exaggeration.
    Jayasala 42
     
  3. Rrg

    Rrg Gold IL'ite

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    Thanks Jayasala for your FB.
    You are free to express your views.
    At times fact is stranger than fiction. That you had not come across a similar incident in your life doesn’t make it an exaggeration. I am sure you would appreciate.
    In fact, the second story in my list, where the Sastrigal ran away, I myself couldn’t believe it happening, even though I was present at the hall. Had someone told me that story, without my being there, perhaps I would have taken it with a pinch of salt.
    For your information in some orthodox Tambrahm families, even now the issue of kaupeenam is going on at the time of marriages. My friend’s son has recently converted to kaupeenam on the advice of his in-laws. Believing it or not is upto you.
    Thanks for visiting my post.
    Cheers
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2018
  4. Rrg

    Rrg Gold IL'ite

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    Further to above my posting let me hasten to add that this incident came to our knowledge only through our periamma (bride’s mother) when she was briefing my mother (her sister) immediately after the ceremony was over, about her deft handling and saving the situation. Thus as it was from horse’s mouth, so to say, we did not suspect any exaggeration or untruth.
    Cheers,
     

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