My little sister got married this July and it was such a beautiful celebration. We usually do not have mehendi party but as my sister is the last in our family , we decided to have one. It was a humble gathering of 50 or so members with food, dance and song entertainment, chatter sessions with friends and just pure laughter...:)
Mehendi party is more of a north indian culture. In south, we do apply mehendi but not in such elaborate designs. We call it "Marudhani" and every house hold used to have a marudhani plant in their own backyard. It had medicinal properties as compared to the curry leaf. The leaves are ground to a paste, finger tips are capped with the paste and small circles are applied on the palms. After 1/2 hour, lime juice mixed with sugar is dabbed in the hands to moisten the dried marudhani. Usually this is done after dinner and we are made to sleep on straw- mattress [Paai in tamil].
The next day is the real fun as there is a big comparison competition of whose hand has attained the most brownish red colour.
In Ayurveda, a person who has excess body heat are catagorised as "Pitta", meaning fire [bile that digests and generates energy].
Whoever has a lot of heat "Pitham" in their body attain more colour in their hands and feet when mehendi is applied. Certain ingredients are used to cool the body and henna is one of them. No wonder it played a vital role during bridal grooming preparation during weddings...:)
Elaborate designs, Arabic mehendi and the art of applying colours [black, red, green , blue etc] depending on the saree colour is more of a modern trend. What ever it is, grooming is an integral part of wedding preparation and who would say no to a little pampering and truly a well deserved one..:)
Wedding bells ....
My sister got married in temple, so the function was not an elaborate one. Just a simple gathering of friends and family. After the wedding , we were off to the mandapam were the afternoon traditional kalyana saapadu was served. It was such a delicious spread and not too crowded with items. So we had the time and space in out tummies to relish each and every item that was served.
Wedding feast in India is a big business and speaks volumes about the wedding itself. There are chefs who have become celebrities and their menus for wedding are a mile long and every bit tastes delicious. Wedding feast clearly reflects the the regional culture and customs.
In India, it is customary to offer food and drink to guests, friends or acquaintances whoever pays a visit to our homes, with or without notice. The same principle is followed here as well. Food that is served during the wedding is way of saying thanks to all the relatives, friends and guests who attended the wedding and showered the newly weds with blessings. At the same time showcasing the local ingredients, tastes, flavours and cooking methods of the region. After all it is a happy occasion where two lives are joined together and we don't want anyone to leave the venue empty stomach.
Feeding another human is the greatest action of kindness...:)
Usually ada pradhaman is not served in Tamil weddings but because of the Kerala influence from my maternal side, my sister's sweet MIL included this in the menu. It was just so delicious as it was made by an authentic Kerala cook.
The feast starts with a pinch of salt on the left hand corner, then followed by the pickle, two sweet varieties - one dry and one milky sweet liquid, poriyal, thokku, kootu, vadai and appalam. Only then rice is served.
The first course is Paruppu Kadaisal with ghee [similar to tadka dhal], then Ennai Kathirikai Kuzhambhu [aubergine in spicy tamarind sauce], then with Sambhar [dhal flavored with coriander and tumeric], followed by Rasam [watery sour brew loaded with pepper, garlic and curry leaves] and finally Moru [spicy sour buttermilk].
For each course just a couple of mouthfuls of rice is consumed and not more than that. There was a custom when buttermilk was consumed first and then rasam was served in small cups to aid digestion.
The food is served in "Vaazhai illai" - "Banana leaf", so the feast is also addressed by a different name "Thalai Vaazhai Illai Virundhu"....:)
Even though so many items are served , they do follow our age old tradition of serving dishes which denotes the six tastes of Tamil Nadu cuisine....
Sweet: Jangiri, payasam.
Salty: Salt and pickle
Sour:Tamarind, nellikai [Indian gooseberry].
Bitter: Fenugreek, tumeric,
Pungent:Black pepper, Garlic, ginger, mustard.
Astringent: Lentils, tomato, tumeric, cabbage, coriander leaves.
Rice is an excellent carrying agent as it blends with whatever stew or sambhar that is added to it and makes us enjoy the taste more. White pumpkin [vellai poosani] has more water content and has a diuretic effect.
Ghee and urad dhal [appalam] have cooling effect in our bodies and that is why it is always served in our meals.
Usually a bitter tasting dish is not served in such large gatherings as it is considered as disrespectful. So ingredients which have bitter taste like fenugreek, mustard and tumeric are used and consumed.
Lastly serving in banana leaf:
It is customary to serve offerings and prasadhams to gods during auspicious days and festivals in Tamilnadu. As we all know that this has been an age old tradition, so it comes with a reason. This leaf emanates polyphenols especially when heated through [as in wrapping and steaming food in banana leaf] or when hot food is laid on it. These poly-phenols are very similar to the ingredients in green tea giving us the essential antioxidants for our body. They also contain Vitamin -C and L-Dopa , an ingredient very essential to fight off Parkinson's disease. So our ancestors had been gaining the benefits of this wonder leaf for ages and it is very eco friendly....:)
Coming up next: Reception glory and Gollu Saapadu...
Scribbled by Reva