A Big Fat Indian Wedding

Two elephant statues stand guard at what appears to be the entrance to a celestial palace. Their silvery trunks are raised and conjoined at the top to form an arch through which only those who have been granted the privilege of an invite, are allowed to enter. Inside, a hallowed passage awaits the arrival of the guests. It is lined with beautiful fountains which spray water in a quiet, little gush. Towards the end of it stands the host for the night with his hands folded into a perpetual Namaste. A smile is plastered across his face which somehow seems as unreal as the surroundings. A beautiful woman accompanies him, her flamboyant attire garnering many eyeballs. Deep pockets have lent her an air of confidence. It reflects in the way she bows slightly and accepts shagun from the invitees. The guests are very careful while handing over the envelope to her. They know they will be judged on the basis of the money they have put inside later.

Up, ahead and beyond is a lavish extravaganza as far as the eye can see. It is not a wedding for mere mortals. It is an event which has been meticulously crafted to be remembered for eternity- or at least for the lifetime of the organizers. A massive stage has been set up in the middle of the pandal. It is decorated with heart-shaped neon lights which switch colours at the blink of an eye. The constantly changing network of bright blues, reds and yellows almost hides the lonesome figure seated on the podium. He is dressed as a warrior prince, replete with a flashy headgear, a pearl necklace, a sword and a greyish-brown sherwani that can easily pass off for an armour. His hands rest on his potbelly which is conveniently sucked in whenever a photographer passes by. His masculinity doesn’t squirm because people aren’t paying adequate attention to him. He looks comfortable in the knowledge that today is the only day when the bride’s significance is more than his.

A sudden commotion grips the gathering as the woman of the hour makes a grand entrance. Her arrival is heralded with √©lan. The lights start to twinkle, the music turns soft. Even the groom stands up and casts a delighted glance at her. She, however, keeps her eyes set on the ground lest her curiosity be mistaken for immodesty. Her sari is generously sprinkled with gold, thus making every step she takes heavy with both- trepidation and weight. As she reaches the stage, a set of photographers descend upon her. They hover above and around her, trying to find the perfect picture, which will justify the enormous amount they’ve been paid for the job. The postures they acquire while shooting her, seem like a shoddy version of surya namaskaram. Relishing every second of being the centre of attraction, she gives them sufficient time to click photos which are destined to wither away in a nondescript album.

Once she joins the groom on the podium, the guests promptly realize that they’ve suppressed their hunger for far too long. They leave the couple to perform the rituals and head out instead to their next favourite destination- dinner stalls. The variety of the cuisines being served is simply astounding. Ranging from continental to coastal, the food has swiftly taken away the bride’s moment of glory. It is now the new centre of attraction. No wonder people begin to indulge themselves in second, third and fourth helpings, merely to ensure that no dish remains un-tasted. Their tummies begin to fill but the scrumptious food refuses to finish, reluctantly forcing them to toss the leftovers in a trash can. The couple is now in a superfluously decorated mandap but nobody has the time or the intent to wait for the wedding to be formally solemnized. They quickly head out, order the valets to bring forth their vehicles and leave the venue with a happy heart and a full stomach.
A group of pavement dwellers stare at the cars passing by and wonder if the palace would sometime open their gates for them to feed on the leftovers. It won’t. They lack the basic criteria which entitles them to be invited into a big fat Indian wedding – Privilege. Somehow, it always tends to have the last laugh.


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