It's been a couple of weeks since I got back from my cousin's wedding. Lot has happened since and it's taken me a while to think about the wedding...and what it feels like to be part of a celebration, not just of two individuals embarking on a marriage but a celebration of community and family.
Like all weddings, there was much dancing, drinking, dancing induced by too much drinking, eating, and gossiping. I was told that I had lost color, which is an impolite Indian way of saying that I am darker than I used to be and that dark is uncool. Miscellaneous aunts commented on my weight- too heavy, too skinny, just right. Common question was 'why no kids?' This is what I love about family- blatantly in my face, discussing unsolicited opinions about my life!
Tradition is a wonderful thing…Coorgs have no written language of our own. We use the language of the state, Kannada, to write Coorgi. The wedding has no priest- parents/family marry you. There is no ritual- just a lot of games, and things that used to have significance in another less-modern time. For example, the people of the boy's village used to travel many, many miles to the girl's village for the wedding. And since the girl's side of the family may not know how many to expect, the boy's side carried rice, meat, bread, etc. for a combined feast. That's what's all in the basket my brother is helping my cousin carry.
My mom is the eldest in the family, and she gets to bless my cousin first - blessing him to be a good groom and a good husband. There is not any praying or chanting or walking around fire, just lots of blessing and feet touching. Okay, so the parents from both side announce that the couple can now be considered married. Now, the girl has to carry water from the well, and the boy's family stops her by dancing in front of her. This is serious business as the longer we keep her standing, the more she's proving that she is strong enough to be part of her new family. See video to get a sense of what the music is like…It's a wonderful rhythm that drums through my bones.
The night I left, my two most favorite boys, my cousins, Bopanna (the groom) and Somanna (younger brother of Bops), we hugged and held on to each other and cried a long time. I think the tears were for a childhood over, for new beginnings, for hope of the future, for the fact that we will always be blood. This is what it feels like to be loved unconditionally and with the whole heart.
More photos from the wedding.