The BIG and FAT Kashmiri Wedding!!! We Kashmiri people are extremes. It is said that you cannot feel the depth of a sea unless you go into it. No, I am not pushing you into the sea but sharing my experience as I just came out of it and enjoyed it COMPLETELY. The wedding officially was due for 2nd Feb to 9th but unofficially the ceremonies started in January itself. And mind it all revolved around food. Starting from Ver, something like salted kheer made of rice but without milk and tastes yummy, with slight chilli powder and nuts and if it is not associated with pooja then even bits n pieces of mutton in it. Nothing is complete without a non-veg spread after every ceremony, and there were no less than thirty people for dinner or lunch even on casual days; all relatives that too close ones. Earlier for small occasions we I mean me and my age group bhahus were chefs, singers, players, maids, waiters all rolled in one and it was really fun to don different caps conveniently time to time. The best thing about Kashmiri weddings is that in all rituals, poojas and ceremonies women of the family require to wear new clothesJ be it a saree or suits. This doesn’t apply on men! In an average wedding there are at least three to six such occasions. Besides new clothes, women wear Athoor, a kind of sparkling bunch on her essential accessory called Dejhoor which is made of gold and all married women must wear it in ears. It signifies the Suhagaan.( the married one) Athoor comes in different varieties, pearls, coloured, silver and golden threads and I smartly picked the matching ones with my attire for all occasions Another interesting fact is pooja in between wedding ceremonies. We are supposed to be fasting till the pooja is over and what a fasting it is ...haha. the day starts with shakarpare or poori, made of Singhade ka atta and sugar with lots of desi ghee...with Kheva, our special tea. After a gap of say two hours deep fried aloo (that too in huge quantity ) with curd and after that fruit chaat, saboodana and lassi, tea in between, and hold your breath,,,,a full fledged meal after all this!! And still they wake up next morning complaining of yesterday’s fasting haha...and a heavy breakfast follows In many poojas and hawans after a fast, Non –veg is cooked and served but if it Tuesday, Thursday or some other auspicious day then it is strict vegetarian affair. Cooking two types of Non-veg and at least three varieties of veg is common practice on normal ceremony days. And if it is a feast than Non –veg dishes go from three to six and veg dishes more or less the same. In this particular wedding the thread ceremony of the groom was also held so after a particular day Non-veg was strictly banned for the close family members. And see my luck, my daughter requested me to come out for a day from the hustle bustle of wedding and accompany her to Chanakyapuri for her project work. It was a welcome change which turned out one of the greatest test for me. Whole place was full of food stalls with tempting aroma of ....Non-Veg food! Daughter pleaded and like a generous queen I ordered her to have but she insisted that I too should share it. Now the dilemma was should I or should I not? Finally like a good bahu I refused to divulge in the temptation and she too did not have it. Now the height was when I shared this incident at home every bujurg mahila of family was..tch tch...it was okay as long as you were not having it at home Now what would you say in that condition...absolutely nothing We Kashmiri folks are known for our hospitality and if you never were a guest at a Kashmiri home then you can never imagine how it is like! In spite of a buffet, we RUN after EVERY guest with bowls and force them to have more, maximum people ENJOY it and don’t mind third or fourth helping and if by any chance we miss someone then we are going to have it. They won’t miss any opportunity to mention that with a smile on their face but a frown tactfully hidden under that smile...sigh!!! The more you run the more you are good!! Milk and curd are the integral part of Kashmiri household. Nonstop supply of Lassi, dahi and tea of three varieties, Namkeen Chai(sheer Chai,) Kheva(Mogail Chai) and our own Lipton chai goes on every day of wedding be it three days or a month. With gana bajana which starts at evening and continues till late in night we are supposed to be ready for another pooja early in the morning, getting sleep only for two hours! On thread ceremony I was out with hubby at five AM, in wee hours for pooja and two cars stopped to look at the weird sconce while I was coming out of the gate; fully decked up!! In those ten days we hardly slept, had the blast, and enjoyed every moment of it. I learnt many Kashmiri songs of Lal ded and marvelled at the poetry we have in Kashmiri literature. Downloaded many songs from U-tube and sang with older veterans every day. Wedding is officially over with entrance of a Tamil bride in family but the celebrations are still on. With each wedding Gujrati, Tamil, Punjabi, Sardars are entering into family, adding colours and we can proudly say that we are Indians ...unity in diversity!