Friday, December 21, 2007

Unique Badaga wedding in Nilgiris

May 2007A friend was to get married in his village, outskirts of Ooty in midst of Nilgiris mountains. This time the weather was good, not too cold..very pleasant. We reached their house the previous evening too see him walking in some red t-shirt and checks mundu. We(self, husband, 2 of my friends) were all surprised to see him walking around, when in Blore, a groom or the bride would be busy getting a facial done or getting his things ready for the marriage. And here he was taking us around to show his village. It was beautiful, surrounded by Tea Estates.Three marriages were to take place the next day in his village. He told us that initially there were more marriages in line, but then the village elders got together to decide on which ones to finally have, coz the whole village would be there for any marriage that would take place in the village. Another thing we got to know was, the girl and guy could not be from the same village and anyone marrying outside the badaga community would be treated as an outcast and never allowed inside the village. It was nice to everyone knowing each other in that village. We had some stares coming our way, since we (ladies) were dressed in comfy jeans and t-shirts. The groom took us to his house…we were greeted with smiles from his family members, uncles, aunts. Everyone was eager to talk to us and make us feel comfortable. Then we got to know that Badaga’s are known for their hospitality. Evening was welcomed with drinks(locally made..and surprised us), eateries and badaga dance. The steps seemed quite similar to Bihu dance. Another surprise for us…the dinner was cooked by their own people and the rice was cooked by the male members of the family. The marriage was not to take place in a hall, but in the grooms house and the whole village was going to attend! We kept wondering how things will be managed and thought that the place is going to be a mess. After dinner, we were taken to some relatives house to sleep. Such clean walking path…clean houses, clean roads…the roads there could have put our Bangalore roads to shame. What cleanliness, what freshness. It felt good to be there.Morning 9.00 was his wedding and at 7.30 we again see him walking in the house with a t-shirt and mundu. What sort of marriage are we going to see is what we wondered. We hurried ourselves to get ready and rushed to his house at 8.30 to see the groom still not dressed for the wedding! We were asked to eat breakfast (served in one plate)- 15-20 chapati sized sweet pooris(don’t remember the name) and some namkeens. Each of us had one or two of those. Suddenly we heard some drums and shahnai, got to know the girl has arrived the entrance of the gate. The boy we see is ready in cream shirt and silk mundu. The shirt collar has been tipped with haldi. Suddenly a whole lot of crowd, his uncles, elders of the village, all the aged men around surround him and he gets busy taking blessings from each one of them by touching their feet. And another set of band come to collect him with an umbrella over his head, take him to the temple which is there in his house compound. Both the bride and the groom pray at the temple and come towards the wedding area.
To describe the wedding area…2 benches covered with sarees, pendal put up and decorated with color paper, balloon & silk sarees. Sofa from the house and a few chairs kept on the sides. The marriage area was decorated by the members of the house.

The top portion of this photograph was supposedly the the marriage area
The couple was made to sit on the bench the crowd gathered around them, the drum guy was still playing his band. Some coins got exchanged between the girls family and the boy and the groom tied “thali”the sacred thread around the girls neck..suddenly a big balloon over their head bursted and the announcement was done that they are married. For us, it was quite amusing coz we kept waiting for the actual marriage procedures to start and here the announcement was happening that the marriage was over. On the other side of the house, bakery baked biscuits (salt & sweet) and tea was being served before lunch. After the marriage the girl was taken into the house alone, made to sit on a mat and asked to drink milk. After that she was asked to carry that mat with her outside the house and wash the mat. Reasons not known to us. We were also told that marriage in badaga community is more of taking blessings from the elders rather the procedure itself.






We were then asked to proceed for lunch. Good food, a little spicy, but any home food is good. While the water was getting served, one of his uncles came over to offer some branded whisky! Drink during wedding!! It didn’t end at this…after lunch we moved over pick up a paan (beetle leaf) and what do you think they had kept there! Cigarettes. Too much to take. One of the most unique and interesting weddings that I have ever attended.

The journey back home was also beautiful, natures beauty at its best…posting a few pics. Words cant describe it.

Don’t see the hill station where the usual crowd goes, explore newer areas…its beautiful out there.
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