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.
Dhoti is the ideal dress for Indian men for any function. Yeah, if you wear dhoti, you’ll feel home in the banquet hall of a function hosted by people you have never met.
I’ve been to many functions like that. The only familiar face in the whole function hall would be my father’s face. OK OK, I’m just kidding. My brother usually joins us too.
One good thing about dhoti is that you never grow out of your dhoti. It doesn’t matter which size your hip is, you can wear the same dhoti. If you wear dhoti, you’ll realize you’re becoming fat only when the fabric store worker asks you the question, “Is one dhoti enough, sir?”
Life is mysterious. You may know that the answer to life universe and everything is 42. Sometimes the answer is same for the embarrassing question that the fabric store worker asks, “what’s your hip size, sir?”
I have worn dhoti only once in my whole life. I didn’t like wearing it. The neighborhood dogs didn’t either.
For our house warming function, I was forced to wear dhoti.
My mom shouted, “I’ve kept the silk dhoti in your room. Take bath and wear that da.”
“Mom, I can’t wear that. I just had a dream in which a dog chased me for 3 kms and then finally pulled my dhoti in front of everyone.”
“Don’t worry da. Dreams are exact opposite of reality.”
“Exact opposite? You mean to say that the dog will pull my dhoti first and then chase for 3 kms?”
I have no idea how to wear dhoti properly. It never stays in my hip. For me, wearing dhoti is very very simple… way to get embarrassed. If I were born in the 17th century, I would have discovered law of gravity before Newton did. With the help of ever-falling dhoti.
My brother supported my mom and said to me, “wear the dhoti or come naked.”
“What’s the difference?” I asked.
I was left with no option other than wearing dhoti. But I didn’t want to mess the new silk dhoti. So I was looking for an old dhoti to practice wearing. I went into one of the rooms and found an old dhoti. When I tried to pick that one, my cousin, who was sleeping on the cot, started yelling, “why the heck are you pulling down my dhoti?”
“To try, of course.”
“Whaaat!!! Are you mad? Why don’t you try your own dhoti?”
“How much I can contribute on my own? I am already trying it on my own body.”
“%$£^&!!!!!! whaattt the… &*(¬`}”
“Don’t worry. Go to sleep. You’ll be wearing armor in your dreams. Because dreams are exact opposite of reality.”
I practiced wearing that dhoti for quite some time. It fell very worse than the Indian Rupee. Somehow I managed to learn a technique called “keep-your-hands-always-at-your-hip”.
Finally, I took bath and went into my room to find the new dresses. I found a new boxer-brief-model underwear along with the silk dhoti. I normally don’t wear boxer briefs.
“Mom, who bought this underwear?”
“Dad only da.”
“Dad, You know that I don’t wear this model, no? OK, anyway, I’ll try one of my old underwear.”
Forget the answer to life, universe and everything. I don’t even know the answer to the question “why my cousin ran away when he heard me saying ‘I will try one of the old underwear’.”
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Note: It’s a part of the “House Warm(n)ing Function” series. If you wish to read the other posts in this series, the index is here.
If you are new to reading this series, read from the beginning. You can find the index here.
I woke up at 3:30 a.m., but my brother was still sleeping. I wanted to wake him up too. Try waking someone up at 3:30 a.m. It’ll be fun. Warning: Don’t try this at your neighbours’ home.
My brother is a chain sleeper. He sleeps a lot. People, when they wake up in the morning would ask, “what time is it?” But my brother, when he wakes up, would ask, “what day is it?”
In our house, before we go to sleep at night, we would say to each other ‘goodnight’, but to my brother, we would say, ‘good 3-days-and-nights’.
His mobile ringtone is snoring sound. His daily workout is sleepwalking. His laptop will always be in sleep mode. His ambition is to become a sleeper cell. OK, I made up the last one.
I have to mention an incident that happened couple of years ago on my brother’s birthday. My cousins bought my brother a costly thing as birthday gift and kept it as a secret. On his birthday party, my cousins said to my brother, “close your eyes. We have a secret gift for you.” My brother closed his eyes… and then the gift remained a secret to him for the next 3 days. On the 3rd day, he eagerly unwrapped our cousins’ gift to find a 10 Rs. timepiece.
OK enough about my brother. Let’s see what happened at 3:30 a.m.
I tried to wake my brother up very gently, like saying ‘wake up, brother… wake up’ in his ear and jumping up and down on his stomach.
While I was jumping up and down on my brother’s stomach, my dad said to me, “Why don’t you try a little lower?”
“Paaa !! what do you mean lower?”
“Er, I mean why don’t you try lowering your voice a little when you shout ‘wake up’.”
“Oh OK. clear. Lazy fellow. He has never seen sunrise in his life.”
“And I have never seen my son rise (from sleep).”
While I was helping my brother get out of sleep, my mom shouted, “why are you disturbing him da? You go and get ready na.”
“Ma, how come he always gets to sleep more than I do?”
“Because he has a rock solid stomach da.”
That reminded me to restart my activity. I again started jumping up and down on his stomach. “Wake up da… wake up.”
“Maa, can you give me my skipping rope? As I am jumping anyway, I’ll complete my workout – skipping the rope on his stomach.”
“OK. Has your brother woken up?”
“Did you try to wake him up? I mean did you jump on his stomach?”
“Yes ma. That didn’t help.”
“OK. Did you try biting his ear?”
“No ma. But thanks for reminding.”
While I was about to bite my brother’s ear, someone rang the door bell. I went out to see who that was. Kamalkanth, one of our neighbors, stepped inside our house. He’s a good friend of my brother.
“What are doing here now, Kamal?”
“I have come here to gift something to your brother for the house warming function.”
“OK. Come on in.”
After he came in, he found my brother still sleeping. He went near my brother and said, “hello brother, wake up. It’s 3:46 already.” To everyone’s surprise, my brother woke up. He flexed his feet, stretched his hands, and slapped hard on Kamal’s face. My brother asked Kamal, “Why the heck did you jump up and down on my stomach?”
“I promise on physics book 226th page that I didn’t jump on your stomach. But I like that idea.”
“OK. Then what do you do here at this time?”
“I have come here to give you a secret gift. I’ll give it to you now. First close your eyes.”
When we heard the phrase “close your eyes”, we all shouted in unison “Nooooooooo”
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