Indian weddings and the art of tracing lineages

Anandam Ravi tries to wrap her head around the Indian obsession with tracing lineages, especially at weddings

A great grand aunt twice removed once called out of the blue to invite us to her granddaughter’s wedding. “What, you don’t remember me?” she shrieked in abject horror into the phone, and proceeded to explain the exact and excruciatingly complex web of relationships that connected us. “Why, I was right there at your parents’ wedding!” I apologised that I had missed that event, probably because I hadn’t been born yet. She snorted at the namby pamby excuse. As far as she was concerned, in terms of namby-pamby excuses, it was right up there alongside “I was out fighting a war!” or “I was in the hospital having a baby!”

Making the connections

You see, the Great Indian Wedding is the ultimate ‘do’, where you are expected to turn up, togged up in all manner of finery, so that you can chalk out all sorts of circles of reference between everybody present. A wedding is not declared complete until all those in the hall have been linked to everyone else, and everyone has been introduced to everyone that can be introduced. That’s why a good wedding takes anywhere between 2 days to 4 days. The good old six degrees of separation simply doesn’t work with everyone and the old family tree has to be literally uprooted and examined to find invisible tendrils of connections that link the brat who has set up base at the ice cream counter to the matriarch to whom all lesser mortals are kowtowing.

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