18 20 years ago, I stepped into Deo-aalay. This family, is like a fabric woven intricately by very strong bonds. Each of the families lives in towns not far from the other. When it comes to some occasion everyone in the family joins in to celebrate. A smallest of celebration gathers a minimum of 50 members in the family and when it comes to a Deo family wedding, it calls for a good number of 150 members, I must say including a baby in diapers J. It has been an amazing transition for me into this family. For a girl who was brought up in a cosmopolitan city like Kolkata and educated in Pune, getting married into a family in residing in the plateaus of Marathwada has been a huge walk. The journey this far has seen me stumble at times and sail smoothly at others. It has been a joyful length so far.
What amazes me in this family is preserving the family treasures. I have watched my mother-in-law make vaan (packs of sweets) endlessly for each of the married girls during Sankranti. Initially, I failed to understand the fact of her striving industriously in the kitchen to make those. Our’s is an almost joint family and has atleast 20-25 girls who need sending a vaan! However, almost a couple of decades later I have acquired the same feeling quite indirectly. I believe those small gestures made the bonds even more stronger between the families. It also meant the girls could connect to the sweets and the care packages sent by their kakus’, atyas’, mavshis’ or mamis’. This is possibly how they could do away with all the feelings for being away from their parents. There are so many rituals I must say that are still in focus and followed by the family. My father-in-law, who is well in his seventies, visits his sister for raksha-bandhan every year. My sisters-in-law, try to make sure they come down to their parents on Padwa during Diwali for giving the much awaited massage with sugandhi oil and abhyang snaan to their father. Such beautiful occasions get their extra dimension once everyone strives to fulfil and make it possible.
Recently, our nephew got married. It was an amazing feeling. One, because he is the first of the next generation ;two, for the fact I have finally joined the troupe of mothers-in-law!! Here are a few of glimpses of the wedding and three because we were following the wedding on watsapp. Hence the title of the post, “Wedding rituals @ Deo-aalay”. My brother-in-law sent us the photographs as the rituals began until the wedding was over. It was fun attending the wedding virtually, certainly not as much when one can attend it. What struck me, was the elaborate rukhwat displayed by our new bride’s family!!
Rukhwat is an elaborate display, which could be referred to as the bride’s wedding trousseau. It may be the usual ritual for others, but I could see possibly what others didn’t see! Such beautifully pieces handcrafted by the ladies in her family. Creativity certainly never goes out of style.
I am glad my family still treasures this ritual where the bride’s family puts in herculean efforts to set up a table with some beautiful pieces handcrafted either by the bride or her aunts and cousins. This ritual probably started so that the bride could please her in-laws with the intricate work she displayed. The display of goodies like ladu, chivda, karanjya, anaarse was for the young ones in the new family, who looked forward to some special treats after the wedding.
The artistically done sugar cast artefacts or at times made with reduced milk or even with shirikhandachi goli was another way of pleasing the little troupe at home. These were all edible decorations. I made this sugar cast specifically for this post. Granulated sugar is sprinkled with water and mixed well. This then is packed in moulds of choice and beautiful artefacts are created. When I moved to England, I came across many Sugar cast artefacts decorated with fondants as a part of cake decoration. This reminds me of Ranveer Brar’s post in DNA. We are absolutely ignorant about the heritage and the skills in Indian confection. This tradition has been age old and carried forward from mothers to daughters for generations in rukhwat’s history.
While the family put together all the essentials like the kitchen vessels which possibly the bride may need in her marital home, her aunts and cousins sat together creating the other part of the rukhwat. This includes intricately embroidered or at times patch worked bed sheets, pillow covers or even crocheted toran or a runner.
Some beautiful painting or candles made by the bride takes centre stage. Sapta padi displays are very interesting to read. It consists of the important elements of the bride’s marital jewellery like the mangalsutra (necklace made with black bead and gold), jodwe (silver toe rings), green bangles placed along with handcrafted footsteps with messages to the bride.
Lagnachi pangat or even the wedding scene created with betel nuts and not to forget the intricately crafted bullock cart and palkhi. I have even seen handcrafted musical instruments with dry coconut shells. Not to forget the Ganpati carved out of saabnachi vadi (soaps). To make the rukhwat even more elaborate jars of dry fruits, pickles or even mukhwas are dotted on the table.
The most interesting part was the ritual of making five types of khiri/valvat/gavhale. These hand rolled pasta are made with flour(either with whole wheat or plain flour). Valvat/gavhalya made using 4:1 ratio of semolina and wheat flour/maida and made into a dough using milk. Rolled with fingers, making this is the most enjoyable part of creating the rukhwat.
When the men folk go out to work and the elderly doze off after the lunch, the ladies in the house sit down together with the dough and a handful of tools including comb, wooden stick and others which are clay tools esque. A paat (a low levelled table) in the centre and the dough rolled and twisted between the finger. Dextrous hands of ajjis’, atyas’, mavshis’, kakus’ and mamis’ trained obviously by the previous generation sing some traditional songs to celebrate the bride’s special occasion. This gathering essentially comprised of gossips, chitchats and occasional teasing for the bride-to–be. I could term this as a subtle way of hen do in the family, since the girl is not allowed to go out (a week before the D day).By tea time, the ladies would have assortments of these hand rolled and twisted pastas ready in plates to dry these valvat. Some shaped like rice grains, pearls, rings, shells, teardrops others twisted too bring in variations. Combs and other tools are used to get the other types ready for the bride’s new family. I recall the types maltya, fanolya(using phani/comb), mohol, nakhavlya.. each shape has a name of that can be used to refer. The hand rolled pastas’ are a part of ole rukhwat, offered to the groom before wedding, before he visits the temple to pay his obeisance to Lord Maruti. The same hand rolled pasta is served in Vihinichi pangat when the marriage vidhi(ritual) is complete. The brides family serves kheer made with these hand rolled pasta to the grooms family.
However, one gets to see such rituals diminishing with the families moving to the city. There is a race against time, money and energy. These subtle rituals which happened as a daily chore and held a soft corner in each ones’ heart have transformed into a huge task. Finding the time to make them possible is challenging at times. Some may find this particular ritual a waste of time and possibly money. But for those who like the ritual, yet do not have the time, there are customised rukhwat in the markets to make their job easier. It is devoid of the personal love, care and feelings. With the store bought rukhwat, there may be loads of thoughts put in, but the exciting fact of sharing and the charm is very much lost. The joy of carrying the memories to the marital house may not be the same for the bride as opposed to our newly wed bride who I understand is a clever girl. Here is a warm welcome extended to my first Soon(daughter-in-law), who actually has made me a Sasu(mother-in-law) too soon!!
I hope you enjoyed the virtual tour to a rukhwat I fancy. I haven’t got a daughter. I would like to collect and make such beautiful artefacts for my future daughter-in-law to welcome her. I would like to alter the ritual just because creating is what I fancy! Yes, I have mentioned it to R, my husband many times, given an opportunity, I would like to cook for my son’s wedding pangat (serving guests in Marathi traditional fashion)!! I even have a maap (a measure which the bride tips with her toes before she enters her marital home)
Ruchira does suggest some tips to make edible and other creative display for wedding rukhwat in Sugrinichi karamat. It has a beautiful picture of a pangat made using shrikhand candies. Shruti’s blog has beautiful information about Rukhwat and the recipe for anaarse. My next post is on the Hand rolled and twisted pasta and the variations traditionally done by the ladies in our family.
I am so happy to include some of the photographs sent by my blogger friend Ashwini to add to this post. I hope this post will help the next generation to visualise about the traditional rukhwat.