Having decided on an Indian wedding, we now had to decide on what wedding rituals would be most convenient and comfortable considering the bride and family were totally new to Indian rituals. As I had written earlier, a truly south Indian wedding is an elaborate affair extending for more than 2 days and long hours of sitting in front of the havan(homam). We were not sure Y and family would be very comfortable doing that. At the same time, since our son wanted an Indian wedding we wanted to include as many South Indian rituals as possible. After long deliberations and Internet searching we decided that an Arya Samaj Wedding would be more appropriate since the wedding rituals included most of the South Indian rituals in a concise manner. It included a havan for a short duration and also a laaja homa. We were in Hyderabad at this time and we wanted to have the wedding in January – February. We got in touch with the Arya samaj at Bangalore. The following are the procedures for conducting a wedding in Arya Samaj style.
- First one registers with the local Arya Samaj and pays a registration fee.
- An application form to be filled by both the bride and groom and their parents and witnessed by one representative from each side has to be submitted to the Arya Samaj, giving the date and place of the wedding. A sum of Rs. 3000 to be paid as marriage donation.
- A notarised affidavit stating that the couple are getting married on their own accord to be submitted.
- We may conduct the wedding at any venue.
- The Arya Samaj also gives a wedding certificate that may be used to register the wedding in India.
- The Arya Samaj wedding rituals last about 90 minutes. If one wants to conduct extra rituals they may be conducted either before or after the arya samaj rituals.
Having decided on the Arya Samaj wedding, we set out getting the forms signed by our son and the bride. We were still in Hyderabad and were planning to reach Bangalore by end November. After having informed all the family members by phone, we set out making plans and schedules and setting time limits. We spent atleast 2-3 hours a day improving on our plans and schedules.
Y was excited about all these elaborate wedding rituals and said she was willing to wear a Mangala Sutra and insisted that she wanted to wear a saree during the ceremony. So I requested my mother who was then staying in Kerala to get a pair of traditional Thirumangalyam done. Having given the order for the most important and auspicious piece of jewellery, we set out planning for other details.
The next was picking the venue. Though there are very spacious and luxurious and sophisticated wedding halls which may cost upto Rs. 2 lakhs per day, one thing we have noticed in most of them was the chaos in the dining and washing areas and the restrooms. Hence we decided that we would conduct the marriage in a hotel, where all the basic amenities would be taken care of. Picking the venue would have to wait until we got back to Bangalore anyway.
We had our friend K pick an auspicious day and time for the marriage.
The guest list was prepared.
The gifts list for the guests was prepared. This took a long time as there were different types of gifts for different sets of people. Starting from the innermost circle of the bride and groom to the outermost circle of all the guests who participated in the wedding it was a large set of concentric circles. Care had to taken not to miss out anyone.
Accommodation for the out-station guests was also an important item. We decided to postpone that until we reached Bangalore.
Regarding the rituals and functions, we wanted to have as many functions as possible but at the same time wanted to restrict them to the ones that Y and her parents would be comfortable with. We did not want to inconvenience them with rituals they were not comfortable with. After all a wedding is an occasion for celebration and not for punishment. For example, Y said her parents may not be comfortable with washing the son-in-law’s feet, which is a ritual in our Kanyadhan. Similarly it would have been difficult for them to sit through long hours of havans in the typical Iyer style of wedding. The Arya Samaj style accommodated these requirements.
So we decided that we would have some functions to entertain the guests like a Mehendi for the bride and groom, a get together the previous day at home with lunch and dinner, a small function to gift the bride and groom with the wedding dress and other things in place of Janavasam and Nischayathartham.
And we decided to reach Bangalore well in advance to do the actual preparations for the wedding.