Sunday, February 3, 2019

Kolkata Marwari Wedding - An experience to share!!

If there is any place in this world where food is the centre of universe for every individual. That has to be Kolkata. When my better half craved like a pregnant woman for his Kookie jar pasrty, Jhal Muri, Gundi paan, kachori sabji and other unending list. I used to find him crazy. But coming to Kolkata, I understand its not him but everyone in Kolkata who is a foodie by DNA.
These 4 days we spent in Kolkata, where we literally had 5 meals a day has left a little bit of Kolkata in me. As much as the people love their street food here, they are also connoisseurs of international cuisines. (I never knew I can really get something scrumptious in Japanese food being a vegetarian myself)
We were in Kolkata to attend a wedding. And again nothing comes close to the variety this place gives in terms of people. From a rebellious "I JUST NEED TO WEAR MY ATTITUDE" (read underdressed) to obscenely overdressed (read I NEED TO FLAUNT WHAT I HAVE!).
Though I am blindly biased towards Mumbai as a fashion capital, but I couldn't get off my eyes of the ethnic jewelry and pastel lehengas girls wore. The big bold Kundan beads to red emerald work in diamond, it is all right from the movie scenes. Infact movies cannot match the novelty displayed in Marwari weddings. People really take dressing up too seriously when it comes to wedding and every time they don’t shy away from trying something new.
Another thing worth mentioning was the decor for each function. The theme with proper color scheme, the props, the center pieces etc ;All very well coordinated and tastefully done. I never doubted the taste of my hosts though. But I am sure, there was a big team behind all the impeccable planning and execution.
The Mehndi and Sangeet function theme was pastel olive green with bright yellow drapes hanging all over. The dry branches and hangings decorated with fresh bright flowers fell just right with the decor. The humble round white Chinese lamps hung all over the roof gave a groovy element to the whole trendy decor.
There were canopy’s hosting women, drawing mehndi on the hands of men/women as part of the tradition. Every individual demanding a different art work. Some on the palm, some arms( baajuband) and some on the wrist(bracelet). Some wanted just a flower in the corner of the palm, some wanted intricate designs all over and some writing names of the people they love. There is a fun tradition of writing each other’s name on the hand of bride and groom with Mehndi. And then post wedding, another tradition to find the name in his/her hands. The darker the mehndi, the deeper the love for each other. Though, logical people like me will blame it to the body heat and not the endorphins secreted in love.
And Sangeet is more like close family dancing to convey their wishes to the bride and groom. The theme this time was inspired by Bollywood. All Uncles, Aunts, Mom, Dad, Sis-her friends, cousins, even the dog of the bride participated in the dance medley. I am sure, most of them were dancing for the first time on stage. But who cares, we have to show our love and DANCE LIKE NOBODY'S WATCHING.
The bride and groom also danced their heart out and looked the cutest. Love was in the air and all our hearts melted looking at the young bubbly couple who couldn't get eyes off each other. Moments like these remind me of those carefree days when it was only "EK MEIN AUR EK TU".

The music and songs played were also very different from what you hear in Bangalore and Mumbai weddings and clubs. They were more hindi slow beat songs where everyone can shake a leg without thinking about their two left leg issues. And literally we danced all afternoon. The whole atmosphere was upbeat and everyone grooving with the music. Age no bound.
The surprises had just begun. The whole day was kind of a dance and music day with cocktail dinner planned for the evening. And we Indians love to hangout in weddings. Meeting with the extended family after long years, talking about all the good ole days, reliving memories from the past, laughing on the same age old joke which we had shared for all these years, pulling leg of that one aunty/uncle who is always sporting to make a joke of themselves and secretly enjoy the attention. And another element which is also a tagline of a popular chain of Cafe, INDIA RUNS ON CHAI is just apt.
Combining these concepts, there was a “Hangout Adda” planned. Share bazar wali chai (Believe me this is the how this famous chaiwala is recognized; Indeed the second most famous chaiwala after our prime minister), malai toast, street bhelpuri, pani puri, pav bhaji, churan wala (yes separate counter serving varieties of churan, aam papad, boor kutt, jhuara, etc), moong daal chilla counter, english tea counter and also a panini counter. And epic was, four Thai masseurs waiting to give you an amazing foot massage after all the dancing in the afternoon. There were low seating, round tables and nice 90s numbers playing in the background. I could say this element was a huge differentiator for me from other weddings.
The cocktail party started 8 in the night. And as the name suggests, there were Bride's favorite, Groom's favorite, Lady's special and some other amazingly named cocktails. The cocktail glasses were beautifully dressed, with a bow for Groom's favorite cocktail and white TUTU skirt for the high champagne glass for Bride's favorite. I could see the details with which the cocktail menu was designed. And the 2 male and 2 female bar tenders had a different swag of their own. They amused kids with throwing the bottles up and balancing at the middle of a 45deg tilted hand and threw ice cubes in the air from one glass to another. Guess they take their craft very seriously. You name it and they had it.

Talking about the theme of the Cocktail Party. The function was in a huge closed hall. The pathway to the hall looked like a red carpet event entrance. There were frames with flowers and lamps highlighted by glamorous yellow lights. The bird of fire flowers looked amazing on those frames hanging right upto the bottom.
The hall itself was kept dark with LED screens on  the wall opposite of the stage. And projectors projecting the remaining two sides. With LED I assumed something will be presented on screen. But later I understood it is for the animations and to change the designs and change the mood with every playing song.
Food stalls were placed out in the open space. And this time, it was international cuisine at your disposal. Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, American, Spanish and of course Italian. Some delicacies like Vegetarian sushi rolls with wasabi, drum melted cheese with fruits and exotic vegetables, sautéed fruit bowl; I had tasted for the first time. The desserts were also exotic with caramel sauce served in dropper, mud cake microwaved in coffee mugs and innumerable others.
There was a popular singer called with his band to entertain the crowd. He sang quite a few popular Bollywood numbers for couple of hours. But all I was interested that time was the amazing food. So I decided to go for the love of food over my love of dancing. When we were about to satiate our food desires and calling it the night. We were told that the AFTER PARTY is just going to begin.
We weren’t sure what is left for the after party. Music checked, dance checked, food checked, drinks checked, socializing checked. All to-do list for a great party was over.
So we kind of pushed off to our rooms and kids changed into their pajamas. But then the two of us went down again. This time the stage was on fire. Literally! There were two bartenders juggling with glass bottles lit on fire. It always works with glass , fire and duos. And what I love about live performers is the connect they make with the audience. I guess not every talented person is a performer, hence for a live performance its very important that you are connecting to the audience and making them a part of your performance. And these two gentlemen on stage did just that.
After the fire act was over, the DJ took over the stage. And oh man!! What numbers they played! The whole hall became a dance floor and I couldn't believe how we all danced almost 7-8 hours in the same day. Guess the foot massage really helped to keep going. Finally with great resistance, I was pulled back to the room. I definitely missed my gang of friends with whom I can dance forever. But I have to give it to Mr Sarawagi to try and keep up with my madness. He knows my love for dancing and even though he doesn't dance at all. He still shook legs with me for the longest he has ever done.
Fortunately, there was no early morning rush. So we dozed off for long and then got ready for some traditions before the wedding.
The mustard yellow theme with marigold flowers and leaves all over suited the Haldi(Telbaan) tradition aptly. This tradition is to beautify the bride and groom with oil and home made face packs. Right from the eldest of family to the youngest, they have to apply this on the groom. And the slightly twisted version of it nowadays is to add juices, fruits, milk and beer on top of all the traditional stuff. And its no more only for groom, the whole family plays holi along with the groom. Alot of animation involved here. But I was feeling bad for the designer clothes women wore which would need double dry cleaning after that heavy dose of turmeric and oil on it.