Sunday, April 28, 2013


South Indian wedding receptions - The Golden rules

Rule #1: Inviting the critical mass 
Reception is not about inviting the 'Kuppans' and 'Suppans' - they have already been invited. Reception is about starting with this base list (of a mere few hundred),and extending the invite to the very frontiers of what constitutes the great Indian social circle, a blurry concept with no clearly defined boundaries. When names like Omega-45 from Alpha Centauri are suggested to the invitee list, it is safe to assume that we have hit the limits of the social circle and the invitation exercise can be considered complete. By this time a critical mass of 500+ people will have been reached at a minimum, and in some cases a human settlement of 1000+ is a possibility. Any hands-on experience in games like Sim City, Caesar City etc. will definitely help, especially in the later case. Of course the bride or groom wouldn't have a damn clue about 95% of invitees on that list, but hey who are they to decide, they are not that important in any case.

Rule #2: Regulating the queue 
'Queuing is for suckers' is the most commonly accepted view in the Indian society. However a remarkable exception is made in wedding receptions, when people patiently wait for up to an hour in some instances, queuing up to hand in their gift to the bride and groom. The queue has a vital role to play in the grand scheme of things. Standing around  for a while is good for the body and does help build up a decent appetite to deal with the lavish reception spread. However for some, this sort of strenuous workout might be too much to handle and fast tracking them through the queue would be a good idea. For most parts the queue is self regulated, but always be on the lookout for the odd queue cutter who needs to catch a flight but has enough time to grab a 'quick bite' in the reception buffet stalls before leaving. Sometimes there could be an odd spike in the number of queue cutters especially in weekday receptions, when the sheer thought of missing out on their favourite late evening soap on TV induces a certain amount of asocial behaviour. 

Rule #3: Recruiting the right side kick
Standing on the stage and collecting the gifts as the married couple keep receiving them is a key role which can only be fulfilled by someone who is a very close relative or friend. This is not because the role demands any family code of honour, loyalty or specialised skill set but it is simply the fact that no one else would do this thankless job for no pay. Think about it, standing on the stage for a good few hours in the shadow of the married couple and being completely ignored by the guests and the photographer, deprived of a snack and the odd glass of sugary juice that is invariably brought around for the married couple, and having to lift and shift gifts ranging from paper-light gift vouchers, delicate tea sets, to heavy duty hot packs, utensils and bouquets without getting a moment's rest, clearly borders on violation of every conceivable good practice for health, safety and inclusiveness in a work environment.  

Rule #4: The buffet dinner of a myriad items
No South Indian reception dinner is complete without 'oil oozing' chaat items, 'rubber sheet' naans, a couple of standard red/green coloured North Indian gravy items (names are insignificant, colour is the only differentiator), 'grenade' jamuns and some token South Indian items on the menu, and etiquette demands these be served in 'food stalls'. Clearly, savouring good food is the primary motivation to attend a wedding, however all the walking around between the stalls and forced socialising necessitated by the buffet arrangement gets in the way.  Also to tackle the 'rubber sheets' and 'grenades' requires use of both hands and additional tools at times, naturally a difficult proposition to manage without a table and a proper sit down dinner arrangement. Not sure what the logic behind having myriad items on the menu is. Is it a statement of being modern and inclusive? Well its not exactly Über cool to be serving badly made North Indian dishes and neither is it convincing to buy into the logic of inclusiveness till the day 'Curd rice' stalls become a standard feature of non South Indian weddings. 

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