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Wedding » Ideas » Food-importance-030501
 
Importance of food in Indian weddings

The first word that comes to mind when thinking of an Indian wedding is food. It is the different colours of food that make the spread at an Indian wedding both unique and fascinating. We take a peek at some of the important food traditions and cultures of India.

Let the games begin... err... Food be served!

In India where marriage is more of a festival than an event, food is one of the most important components of an Indian wedding. Like all festive celebrations marriage also is celebrated with lots of food and ceremonies rolled around the actual marriage event.

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Conventionally Indian marriages were a five-day ritual where relatives far and distant would turn-up. Hence the importance of serving food for all those five days culminated into a befitting finale on the d-day. During those days a lot of gaiety would be roped around food, passing on the tradition of sharing food from generation to generation.

The good old days
Importance of food in Indian weddings A traditional "Atithi Devo Bhava" (where a guest is likened to the Lord) also sprouts the fact that all guests who have been invited and who have taken the trouble to remain present for the marriage should be offered lip-smacking food. In good old days it was customary to serve the food specially cooked by a wedding-specialist cook or "Halwai", akin to a Rajasthani Munna Maharaj (prevalent amongst the affluent). He would cook the food over-night in a backyard of the house, supervised by the head of the family or someone close to the family. The cooking was done on the ground dug-up and had trough wood fire which was kept burning. One dish after the other would be churned out only after the taste was approved.

The fare consisted of simple flour "Ladoos", spicy dal coupled with rice garnished with some herbs and spices, which would be served on benches or "Patlas". Guests would sit on "Asans" laid on the floor. Served with a lot of formality known as "Manwar" by family members, relatives and friends, a custom that is still prevalent in bucolic homes of India.

Gujrati food rites
As per the tradition in some Indian cultures the bride and her family have to observe a fast on the day of the marriage. Amongst the Gujratis, they can only have food once they have performed the "Kanyadaan" (giving away of the bride). The couple eats only after they have savoured the traditional "Lapsi", and exchanged the garlands with the seven "Pheras". It is only after the marriage ceremony that food is had by all present.

The delicious Gujrati thali:
Just as popular fashions dictate taste, so do food habits. Amongst the Gujaratis it is customary to serve an elaborate wedding meal on a sit down silver-service traditional "Thali". Thali is India?s homespun answer to authentic plated meals, and truly ?faster than fast food? that?s nutritious and wholesome too, dished out to hungry guests in a hurry. The tables are already set, and the service begins with a meticulously synchronized operation as the servers, transform the empty thali into an appetizing kaleidoscope of complementing colours, textures and flavours. Being very homogeneous though distinct from each gleaming katori to the other, food is served on large steel/silver platter.

Importance of food in Indian weddings Buffets usurp sit-downs
With convenience taking over, this aspect of plating food as a ritual to the wedding guest ? (the supreme being from a royal clan known as "Pangats in Wadis") or big wedding venues serving streams of invitees on an elaborate sit-down is almost extinct. A buffet spread with specialty counters and food court kind of a setup is emerging. The host as a good connoisseur of Indian food ceremoniously conjures up a menu decorated with every principle that a catering college graduate would keep in mind while designing a specialty restaurant's plush menu. Probably today with the explicit and minute design on every aspect of the wedding it goes without saying how much emphasis is given to the way food is displayed, food items are chosen and the service appearance is decided.

Catering to different communities
Importance of food in Indian weddings A community-wise catering like the sit down for eight service for a "Thal" system amongst Bori Muslims, a Jain specialty catering, a Halal food catering, Parsis sit down on banana leaf for non-vegetarian food with a separate caterer for vegetarian food side-by-side or a vegetarian caterer serving select guests alongside a mainstream Muslim specialized caterer in a Masjid and many such more are adaptations to the Indian cultural are now all available by popular demand.

Menu for every mood
As mentioned earlier the conventional five-day celebration has now been trimmed down to a one-day ceremony and at times a half-day concept. But it is now unhurriedly going back to the five-day ritual, not without forcing the caterer to provide a different menu for each function each of the five to seven days. Be it a mehndi night or a sangeet sandhya it is essential that one plans the menu in keeping with the mood of the occasion.

As a custom to be maintained, this rich and hospitable tradition of savouring food will be no a hardship for generation after generation.

Kamlesh Barot
Director
Revival Group of hotels
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