A Hindu marriage can never be done without an Iyer (pandit). Sometimes, it can even be done without the bride and groom. But without iyer, it’s impossible.
Not only in marriages, but in any Hindu ritual, Iyer is the key person. He chants the mantras in Sanskrit. You will never understand a single word coming out of his mouth. Like, “Snathkumara, bhagavath, sarvajoshi, viseshast, aasthikya” etc. The only sentence that you can understand an Iyer speaking is when he says, “Iyer fees 16,000 bucks.” That’s too costly, isn’t it? This gives the kids of these days a 3rd option to the question of every uncle: “What do you want to become, beta? Doctor or Engineer?”
As you can’t understand Sanskrit, you just have to believe that the Iyer is only chanting mantras for goodwill, and not scolding his wife in Sanskrit for not making puliyodarai and thayir saadham (curd rice) that day.
We did our house warming ceremony couple of months ago and -you have guessed correctly- we were in need of an Iyer to do all the rituals. All the Iyers in Karaikudi (hometown) were booked. In olden days, the sequence used to be like
1. Build a house.
2. Book an Iyer to do the rituals.
But nowadays, it’s the exact opposite.
1. Book an Iyer.
2. There is no point no. 2 because you will have no money left to build a house.
Luckily, we managed to book one of the famous Iyers, who has done a lot of Iyer roles in Hari’s movies, for our function at an affordable rate (slightly lesser than Vishwaroopam’s budget).
The Iyer asked my dad to buy many things for the ritual (which he’ll take home after the rituals). Following is the list
1. Apple – 76 kilos, Orange – 98 kilos, Jack fruit – 62 kilos, Kiwi fruit – 36 kilos, and some more fruits, which we clarified that they are available only in the supermarkets in Antarctica. With the fruits that the Iyer asked for, he can celebrate first nights for the rest of his life. He can even leave some fruits for the next 3 generations.
A sample “family will” written by an Iyer for your reference
“The third son gets 296 kilo apples . The second son gets 765 kilo oranges. And the first son gets 16, 582 ritual bookings.”
2. Bengali Cotton Sarees, Kancheepuram Silk Sarees, Sambalpuri Ikkat Sarees, Banarasi Sarees, and some more varieties. When the Iyer asked for these sarees, I clarified that we were only building a house, not a shopping mall.
I can easily imagine the following scene happening in the Iyer’s house
Mami (Iyer’s wife): I need new Sarees na. All my Sarees have become old.
Iyer: OK di, I’ll get some. How long have you been wearing those old Sarees?
Mami: 16 hours.
3. All costly nuts – Cashew, badam, pista, almond, walnut etc. Basically he was driving us nuts.
4. Ghee equivalent to the weight of the Iyer – to build fire in homam. The Iyer weighed 126 kilos. Now you obviously know that the ghee doesn’t only build fire in homam, but also in our stomachs.
When the Iyer came to our home to collect the money for ghee, we treated him very well. We gave him a cup of tea, then few chapathis with the spicy capsicum curry, a banana and anything which will help quick bowel movement and reduce couple of kilos body weight. When the Iyer was about to enter the toilet, my brother asked him whether he needed a cigarette and newspaper. And when the Iyer came out, my brother asked, “More bananas?”
The list contained even more things like, milk, towels for cow, banana leaves, shaving cream, Clinic all clear shampoo, washing liquid, Samsung 42 inch LED 3D TV.
For you people who are building new houses, I can give you only one advise if you want to cut down these costs: Look for a very lean Iyer. Or if you want to cut down more cost, then go buy a book “Learn Sanskrit in 30 days”. If you choose the latter option, keep an important rule in mind: Never eat at your clients’ home.
P.S: If this post hurts your sentiments, I just want to tell you that I’m not against Iyers. I like them. Especially the one who acted in “Avan Ivan” – Janani Iyer.
If you like this post, you may also want to check other posts in this series here.