Say cheers to "two states" weddings in India's Silicon Valley
As vodka accompanies vada and rasam is served with rum, cultures and languages melt.
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The lights are not so dim and music is not-so-loud, as a ponytailed jockey belts out latest item songs from Bollywood and Rajinikanth superhits, effortlessly surfing his shiny silver MacBook Air with tony wireless mouse. On the floor are gyrating young techies and couples from the who's who of India's Silicon Valley - HP, Apple, Google, GE, SAP, Benz, Yahoo, Infosys and so on. The transition from Sunny Leone's "Baby doll main sone ki" to "Lungi dance, lungi dance" is swift, as vodka and Red Label whiskey flow freely. Surprisingly, beer is passé in Bangalore which introduced young Indians to pub culture in the '80s. It appears vodka is the new beer.
This is not a scene from disco or a resto bar on Church Street or a three-star hotel on MG Road or Koramangala, but banquet hall of a mid-range hotel in conservative Sheshadripuram (it could be Malleshwaram or Basvangudi too). The occasion is not a New Year Party but "sangeet" ceremony of a fusion wedding - of a Punjabi girl with a Tambrahm boy. You can call it a "two state" wedding. The combination could vary from a Northeast girl and Kannadiga boy to a Delhi boy and Mallu girl. That's new Bangalore for you - real life Two States wedding capital.
As vodka accompanies vada and rasam is served with rum, cultures and languages melt. Mixed weddings are a potpourri of rituals from different cultures and backgrounds, and everyone - including conservative natives of Bangalore - seems to be enjoying. So, "sangeet" ceremony becomes an amalgamation of pre-marriage cocktail, ring ceremony, roka, sagai, cake cutting and what not. The dance part of sangeet is not just about "ladies' sangeet" but has well choreographed numbers by friends and relatives of bride and bridegroom, and by the couple themselves.
Lots are drawn for surprise dances by elders of the two sides and skits are enacted to tell the story of how the boy met the girl or vice versa. Anchor asks the Tambrahm boy, why did you choose a Punjabi girl? "Well, she is the most beautiful girl on my floor", pat comes the reply and everybody laughs. The light banter and lack of Delhi-type "shosha" is hallmark of such ceremonies in Bangalore. Another point, they all begin on time and end well before midnight. After all, life for Bangalore techies begins at 6.30am next day as they leave in their latest Volkswagens and Chevrolets for Electronics City and Whitefield to avoid getting caught in unending traffic jams.
Once upon a time, Madhuri Dixit-starrer Hum Aapke Hain Koun with rituals like "joota chhupai" was the benchmark of a North Indian wedding. Now the reference point is the slow-motion depiction of elaborate wedding rituals as seen in K-serials. "Yah, yah we have seen this in Veera on Star Plus. It's very interesting," I overheard boy's maternal aunt saying when the girl side was performing the "chooda" ceremony. Never mind if young and middle-aged Punjabi relatives don't know traditional lyrics that go with the ceremony. "Download karo na, YouTube par saare choode wale gane hai."
In the evening, don't be surprised if the groom comes in a baaraat. So what, if there is no concept of barat in South India? When will we dance to the beats of a dhol? Grooms riding a horse or arriving in a classy Limousine bedecked with flowers are past. Expect the unexpected - in the one which I attended the dulha came driving a decorated autorickshaw, wearing goggles a la Rajinikanth!