A Malabari Wedding


Update as of 11 January 2010

Moplahs or Mappilas are residents of North Kerala (Malabar Coast), and have traditions that are quite unique to the region as well as the religion. Moplahs are essentially Muslims who trace their roots to the Arab traders who frequented the western shores of India for trade. Their food is a unique blend of Kerala cuisine, basically simple with lots of coconut, and yet with overtly “Muslim influences” – like their famed Biriyani, a flavoured rice dish cooked with mutton or chicken and the famous Malabari parota, a flaky bread prepared with wheat flour on a griddle and served with mutton stew or chicken curry. The pathiri, or the light rice pancake is unique to this community and is at times stuffed with mutton and onions and fried like a samosa. The pathiri is the most popular item on an iftar, the fast breaker during the fasting month of Ramzan. And unlike Muslim weddings from other parts of India, at the Moplah wedding the bride and groom meet each other without the veil in between (purdah). And after the vows are taken and both pronounced husband and wife by the clergyman, the groom leads the bride into his house. The groom’s family has prepared all day for this event and ensures that the pomp and gaiety is everywhere to see. But no-one enters the living room or the chosen room because it is specially “prepared” for the newly weds. The floor of this room is well oiled such that no-one can walk through it without slipping and falling. The only way through the room is with support, and that is exactly what is tested here. The newly weds, are to traverse the room, hand in hand without slipping and it is this camaraderie and support that will not only see them through the journey across the room, but also symbolically across life.

The pomp and gaiety on D Street was evident this morning as the SENSEX opened over 100 points up (of course Friday ended on a weak note of 75 points down, but last week was a 80 points up week). The fun and frolic only lasted for a short time, like the Moplah wedding that was consummated quite quickly, such that everyone’s attention was focused on the Oil Counter – lots of oil stocks were sold or bought (depending on which side of the trade story one relied on) and so everyone watched the SENSEX tread carefully along the flat floor, but holding up for long. The crunch came towards the end of the room when the SENSEX slipped slightly due to oil pool formed near the edges, as well as the tired feet of the D Boyz who had oil smothered feet by now! So eventually, though the SENSEX did tumble and fall, and lose 13 points today, it was kind of flat to its last close – at 17526.

The wedding guests then get together to greet the newly weds, who return after washing their oily feet and in the meanwhile are treated to some Moplah sweets, the most famous being Nei Choru, a sweet rice, flavoured with lots of ghee and saffron. And then the wedding songs and dances take over the festivities that will go on well into the night!

Cheers…….

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