Marriages are made in heaven, sure. But you also add a huge hall decorated from floor to ceiling and wall to wall. You put at the centre of it a suffocating couple, the smiles on their faces almost plastered after hours of greeting the hundreds that walk in, the weight of suits and ornaments not helping. The money put into all this can buy a ‘heaven’ or two. Luckily, there are those who don’t step into these heavens and decide for themselves that there are easier, much happier ways to get married and actually enjoy their union with loved ones.
For Manoj Karingamadathil, it was about practising what he had always preached. About following green ways of life, about environmentalism and avoiding plastic. So when it came to his own wedding, Manoj couldn’t just forget about all that he stood for. The wedding itself was at a register office where Manoj and Jameela signed their names to get married under the Special Marriage Act. Following that was a reception at home in Thrissur, attended by 300 to 400 people.
“I don’t know if you can call it a green wedding. The main feature was that all the food waste was composted. Plastic was avoided. In place of plastic cups, we ordered glasses. This was really hard because you couldn’t just get glasses on rent anymore, since mostly everyone went for disposable options. Kareem ikka of Jaiva Karshaka Samithi came to the rescue with his glasses, which we could wash and reuse. He gets a day’s job and I get to follow my wish of a green wedding,” Manoj says. The venue was decorated with kuruthola — tender coconut leaves — that friends came to help with. “I run an IT consultancy firm but I am also into farming, doing it all organically, pesticide-free,” Manoj traces the roots of his green thoughts. Jameela works as a librarian in Thiroor.
It is not always with the idea of ‘becoming unconventional’ that people choose a different path. Atheetha Raghuchandran wore only a single necklace for her wedding, because she just never really liked ornaments, as simple as that. But this is at a time when young women covered themselves in gold chains from neck to hip, easily giving in to the pressures of a society that demanded it, without fighting. For Atheetha, it was much easier because her whole family had the same thought. “I don’t think we even really had a discussion over it. It was a unanimous decision to have minimum ornaments — one chain, two or three bangles. There was, however, one hip belt that I was not keen on, but mom and grandmom were. But other than that, I didn’t really have to fight. The groom’s family said nothing either, there were simply no conditions, no talk about this,” Atheetha says.
Atheetha is lucky for it is not always so easy to convince a generation that is deeply rooted in their beliefs and ways of life. “There were a few who murmured that it would affect my dad’s reputation if I just wore one chain. Someone else said it was the only occasion when the parents could see their child adorned entirely in gold. But we just laughed at all those remarks. Put simply, your wedding day should be an occasion you enjoy the most. If you carry on with all that gold and all that weight on your body and get really tired, how do you enjoy your big day?” she asks.
For stage decorations too, they went in for a minimalistic design with very few flowers and more jute. “It was Kevin Simon who was in charge of the decoration.” There are many among her friends who lamented that they couldn’t do it for their own weddings. At least two girls she knew wedded the same way — “My friend Rose Joseph who had two kinds of weddings — she wore a single necklace for her Hindu wedding and just an earring for the Christian wedding. There is also my brother’s friend Krishna Haridas who married with a single chain.”