There is a very good reason for my disappearance. My cousin is getting married – one of only two boys in our generation on my dad’s side. This is (almost) the last wedding in this generation so we are making the most of it.
Weddings are when I catch up with the extended family. I even get to meet more-than-once-removed cousins now that they are mostly settled outside Kashmir. I am almost caught up 😀 .
The festivities were kicked off with the livun ceremonies – a day for the symbolic cleaning of the house to welcome family and friends. The only day I remembered to take a picture of our dinner! The doorway was decorated with a colourful floral pattern, and delicious ver (a risotto-like but creamier dish with rice and walnuts) prepared. More family gathered by dinner time to eat, catch up, and sing.
Out came the tumbuknaris (a Kashmiri drum) and a nott (metal pot) to provide the beat for the singing of traditional Kashmiri songs. In the background the World T20 2007 India-England match played out quietly, where Yuvraj avenged his bowling statistics by hitting 6 sixes off bad-boy Broad and added to the noisy celebrations. The time: 1am. Thankfully, the apartment below their’s is unoccupied at the moment!
It was the auspicious time for the groom to get his mehndi. Yes, even the groom gets to put mehndi in a Kashmiri wedding. They are usually good sports and grin and bear it. The bua (dad’s sister) puts the mehndi after the maasi (mom’s sister) has washed the feet with water. All the festivities are conducted similarly at the bride’s place too, at a time deemed auspicious by their priest.
The following day the bride’s family hosted lunch for all and there were more silk saris on display. More catching up with cousins…followed by more food . Kashmiris have bought into the whole dessert idea since their dislocation. The ones at lunch were outstanding; there was syrupy jalebi paired with rabdi (thickened milk), pista kulfi with rose flavoured falooda, and (surprise!) caramel custard. No dinner for anybody that night.
A light lunch next day and we were all ready for the mehndiraat. Hors d’oeuvres were filling in themselves and I needed to say “no” pretty soon. To get some mehndi on my hands seemed like the perfect thing to do. I put my name down with the two henna-artist girls and soon had a pretty peacock design on my hand. TH helped me get a plateful of food (and I missed mujj-chatin!): dumaloo, razma, nadir-palak, and chaaman-kalia, followed by gulab jamun for dessert.
The singing and dancing started but was a bit non-traditional and too noisy for me. But then weddings are about sitting down together and having a good time despite the din. Close to 1 am I thought it was time to get my clan together, so up I went to the apartment looking for TH and son, and got sucked into the last two overs of the aforementioned T20 series: this time the India-Australia semi-final. Boy, we kicked some ass! The shocked faces of the Aussie team said it all. The stage it set for the arch-rivals India and Pakistan to meet in the finals on Mon. Some sprinting might be involved ( I can run in a sari, believe me) between the venue where the reception is being hosted that night, and the nearest television set. The cousin did wonder aloud if he should arrange for a big screen…he was joking, but barely.
The Big Fat Kashmiri Wedding will continue, the wedding itself happens in a couple of hours, so I’ll report on it soon….