It was a Sunday morning; I was on my monthly visit to one of Chennai's famous temple and my all time favorite too. To avoid the Sunday morning crowds, I ensured that I reached the temple much earlier and was there standing before the huge temple doors at the 1st rays of sun. When inside the praharam, I noticed a couple dressed in the traditional marriage costumes and carrying garlands. Only then I realized that the day was a Muhurtham day (a day considered auspicious for conducting marriages, ceremonies). Not paying much attention then, I continued with my prayers visiting every deity in the huge temple.
After I was done with all my visits to the gods and walking round the praharam, I sat down near the pandal, with delectable puliogare and vadai....God bless whoever invented this as prasadham...no other food will taste so good in the mornings. As I was gobbling my way thro' these, I again noticed the couple whom I had seen while entering the temple. Something forced me to notice the happenings keenly. Marriage in temples to me, was a still a scene from blunt tamil movies. Only other place where I enjoyed a marriage taking place elsewhere than a marriage hall was in a Crazy Mohan's play. Having attended so many weddings in my life thus far, all I comprehend from it is lot of relatives, lots more to eat, friends all over, noise and buzz of activities whichever direction the needle pointed to. Well, this was in total contrast that made me look up.
It was silent, there were just about 10 people, both men and women, apart from bridal couple and thr’out prevailed a hushed elation. That was the 1st prominent contrast. Unlike, the glossy display, which I was accustomed to, this, was rather an unadorned vista before me. More interesting was the couple. The Bridegroom must be around early 25 something, a tanned, bony fellow, looking excited like a kid waiting to rush into a theme park. He just adorned a white dhothi and a white shirt, both of cotton and not silk, which is what announces the traditional 'Mappillai' in an emphatic manner. The thin rose garland that hung around his neck was all that he seemed to be proud of on his best day. Bride bore an air of shyness which is tagged to any south indian girl. I could notice the colour of happiness in her face though she had it bent thro’ the ceremony. A simple pattu saree of bright yellow and red, lots of flowers on the hair, not much of ornamental display, that’s all she bore. But she still looked exultant. And this took me by surprise 'cause every girl getting married whom I had come across were at their peak of beauty, plated with gold, adorning a dozen of so sarees like 'Aadi sale' ads, 4-5 ladies attending them all the time, juices, water and lot of other stuff...what not???
And here were the modest couple, equally thrilled but not drawing any attention. I watched. The priest came down with the 'Thali' (Mangalsutra) and garlands, chanting mantras all along. Bridegroom's friends were getting instructions from him, which looked like a Collector was on duty and commanding his staff. Then the couple exchanged garlands given by the priest. All was happening in silence except for Priest’s tongue wag, which made me realise that music was...simple missing. The nathaswarams and thavils, where were they? In a normal kalyanam, you just can't do away with these things, noisy or whatever, no 'Getti Melam', no kalyanam....such importance they commanded !!
Poor couple, I shrugged. The Priest handed the Thali to the bridegroom. He smiled at his friends, looked at the bride for a moment and started with the 1st Knot. The three sacred knots were over, but still the bride's eyes were still searching the ground. But I noted drops of tear peeping at the end of her eyelids. Only these drops which gestured her happiness. Typical South Indian Bride. Friends congratulated the Bridegroom, while ladies whispered and smiled with the Bride. I too wanted to wish, but....I still did'nt know what was stopping me....and I walked away...happy and feeling content as if one of my buddies' got married...
As I took my bike out of the parking and accelerating outside, I noticed the couple come out of the temple, I stopped and watched further....curiosity killed the cat...me, no exception even with 6 senses. They walked together, hand in hand followed by the small cluster of witnesses to their marriage. And got into an auto, with the Bridegroom, taking driver's seat (indeed) and lady sitting beside. And they whizzed away leaving a bunch of hands waving at them. All that was missing was 'Just Married' letters and flowers on his auto. I smiled again and headed home.
Marriages of such kind also end happy, truly an unforgettable one.