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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chp 268. Wedding Planner: D-Day!

I had such a grand plan of writing different posts about the wedding, like the system of bride price in our Mizo culture, the distribution of bride money ceremony, the bachelor party, the bridal shower, the wedding, the aftermath, etc etc... all with pics.


I fell sick right after the wedding!

I don’t even wanna mention again about how busy I was during and before the wedding. Just imagine a decorator, a traffic cop, a manual labourer, a driver, a manager, a host, a waiter, a babysitter, a circus clown, a chief minister’s bodyguard, a newspaper editor, a bartender, a mailman etc etc, and put them all in your hands like putty, squash it up nicely, mix them real hard... and throw that fused matter at the wall... kaphasssh!!!. Yeah, that’s me.

After the wedding I was bedridden for three days with high fever and loose motion, and managed to find just enough strength to make it back to Mumbai.

So in this final post of the “Wedding Planner” series, I will make everything brief, cut short all the posts I have written earlier and combine them all in this one post.


First of all, I must once again profusely thank all my friends who sacrificed their time (and office leaves) in order to help me out. A lot of them brought their cars and ferried our English guests from the airport, showing them around the city etc. As they were nine of them, that meant 3 cars at all time (three of them do not fit in the back seat of a typical Indian small car because they’re all huge!) plus one or two other cars for my sisters and cousins.

Tluanga, Sanga, Robert, Johnson, Matea, and the rest. THANK YOU!


The Bride Price

In our Mizo custom, we do not follow the dowry system, where the bride’s side have to pay a certain amount of money and other assets to the groom’s side. Instead it is just the opposite in our culture - the groom’s side have to pay the bride’s family “mo man” which is the bride price.

The amount is just Rs 420/- (although it is usually higher in Southern Mizoram like the Mara community). 420 bucks was a big deal back then, during the days of chieftainships and zawlbuk, and since we still use the same amount today, people give Rs.420/- in the smallest change possible so as to make the amount look big

Once Rs.420/- is paid to the bride’s father and he accepts the amount, he returns Rs.20/- to the groom’s family as security. This is called “Thutphah” and is usually not returned to the bride. Supposed a calamity befalls the married couple, like the bride dies, then this amount is used for the funeral.

Now, the remaining Rs.400/- is distributed among the bride’s selected family members and friends, and this is called the “Man ei”. Of course the amount distributed is more than Rs.400/- and there is no specified amount on the number of recipients. Sometimes around 20 people and other times more than 100. And the amount distributed is also not specified. It’s usually Rs 50/-per recipient, while other families distribute different amount for different categories.

[Preparing the “Man ei” list and keeping money inside the bags]

Those who get a share of the bride price are supposed to play a very important role and are the guardian of the bride. If the marriage does not work out or she is treated badly by the groom, she can run to the house of those who had a share in her bride price, and it is their duty to take care of her temporarily.

Of course today nobody follows this, and when marriages don’t work out, the wife runs back directly to her folks. But back then, it was always not possible to go back to her folks as they usually lived in different villages. So she would go to the nearest village where one of the “man ei” people lived. There is also the “Pa zawn” – an appointed local guardian who stays in the same village/locality as the bride for extra security.

Those days, it was considered a high honor to be invited by someone to come and have a share of the bride price, because it meant people trusted you and that you were capable of providing shelter and security.

The arrangement between the groom and bride are not done directly between the bride’s parents and groom’s parents. Two groups are instead appointed by the respective sides as spokespersons. The person(s) the groom’s side appoint is called “Palai” and the person(s) the bride’s side appoint is called “Lawi chal”.

When a guy falls in love with a girl and they want to get married, he tells his family about her and they in turn send a Palai to the girl’s house. The Palai must not be related to the girl’s side and he/they usually hold a respectable position in the community. The Palai must also be an extremely smooth talker so as to convince the girl’s father to let the marriage take place. Negotiation on the bride price also takes place, but in a very inconspicuous way.

Then comes the “Lawi chal” who speaks for the girl’s family and if the girl’s father allows the marriage to take place, the “lawi chal” takes care of the bride personally throughout the wedding and even takes her right up to the groom’s house after the marriage.

NOW... explain all that to these people.

Yeah, meet the In-Laws. Amazing bunch of people they are. We would all burst out laughing at every little incident or sentence. Our football arguments were heated too, as they’re mostly Liverpool fans, hardcore Reds, and it seems back in the UK, the loyalty to a particular club is hereditary.

For the man-ei, the function was in English, and mom’s cousin Upa Sangzuala played the role of the “Palai” for our English guests. He explained the whole concept and there was a very good turn-out.

Food was ordered from Hotel Ritz, so we didn’t have to do any of the catering. Phew. But half the time I was managing the traffic outside our house. The road was completely jammed as each family came with their own car. Apart from that, there was also the chief minister of Mizoram and his entourage. I never got to eat anything that evening.

[Blogger and cousin Mimi with her bro. Mimi took food thrice that night, and her bro ran over my freaking feet with his car as they were leaving! Aaaaargh!]

[lolz, this is a picture perfect snap. It looks as if the CM and dad are cracking a dirty sexist joke, while the CM’s wife and mom look away disapprovingly. Haha]

We bought 20 bottles of the infamous Hnahlan grape wine, which is the only permitted alcohol drink in Mizoram. And guess what? Nobody drank a sip! It tasted soooo horrible, like a mixture of cheap wine and cough medicine. Two grand down the drain. I later distributed it among my friends. Hihi.

The Man-ei function and Wedding day were of course recorded.

The “Man ei” has various categories:

  1. Sum hmahruai: This goes to the girl’s father’s siblings and they play an extremely important role. They are also the first to receive the money, hence the name (sum means money and hmahruia means leading). In our case, it went to dad’s two elder brothers.

  2. Sum fang: This is next in line of importance. It usually goes to the father’s closest friends, but in our case, it went to dad’s two younger brothers.

  3. Pu Sum: This is for the girl’s mother’s siblings and cousins. It is an all male domain, meaning, the maternal uncles will be getting this share.

  4. Pa Lal: This is again an all-male recipient list, and it goes to the father’s cousins. In our case, it went to father’s relatives and his closest friends.

  5. Ni Ar: This is only for the womenfolk, and it goes to the father’s female relatives.

  6. Nau Puakpuan: This goes to the women who looked after the soon-to-be bride when she was a baby. Female members who are related or close to the family (but necessarily did not directly look after the bride when she was a baby) are also included in this list sometimes.

Here is our “Man ei” list. My cousin said this is probably the first Mizo “man ei” list to be put up online. Haha!

Sum hmahruai:
1. Thantluanga, Khatla.
2. L.Pachhunga, Khatla.

1. Hnehzauva, Mission veng.
2. Lianmawia, Mission veng.

Pu Sum:
1. Lalnghinglova, Chanmari.
2. Dr. Malsawma, Chaltlang.
3. Zothansiama, Republic.
4. Lalbiakdiki, Thakthing. - for her husband Ricky L. Rinliana (L)
5. Zotinkhuma, Khatla.
6. C.Hmingthanzama, Sikulpuikawn.
7. Upa Zosangzuala, Bazar bungkawn.
8. Upa C.Thangnghilhlova, Upper Khatla.
9. L.V.Zahnuna, Chaltlang.

Pa Lal:
1. S.Hmingthanga, Laipuitlang.
2. Lalrinawma Tochhawng, New Delhi.
3. Col. Lalchungnunga, Zarkawt.
4. Thangsailova, MacDonald Hill.
5. Lallunghnema, MacDonald Hill.
6. Lal Thanhawla, Zarkawt.
7. Dr. Thansiama, Zarkawt.
8. K.Zomawia, Zarkawt.
9. Maj. Lalhmingliana, Kulikawn.

Ni Ar:
1. Lalhmingthangi, Mission veng.
2. Lalramthangi, Mission veng.
3. Lalhmingliani, Zotlang.
4. Zapari, Ramhlun North.
5. Zahluni, Chaltlang.
6. Lalhmangaihi, Zarkawt.
7. Lallianpuii, Khatla.

Nau Puakpuan:
1. Thangzuali, Khatla.
2. Maj. Rochhungi, Jail veng.
3. Malsawmi, Venghlui.
4. Lalrampari, Chaltlang.
5. Lungtiawii, Zarkawt.
6. Mami Laltluangi, MacDonald Hill.
7. Sawmpuii, Electric veng.
8. Thansiami, Kolasib.
9. Laldinliani, Khatla.
10. Zothanpari, Kolasib.
11. Lalthianghlimi, Dawrpui Vengthar.
12. V.L.Tanpuii, Salem veng.

Once this was all over, everybody went home and slept while I ran back to the Church helping in the decorations and overseeing the sound-check at both the Church and community hall (where a small after-church function was supposed to take place).

I finally got to sleep around 3 in the morning, DEAD tired.


The Wedding morning

Haha, you think a wedding day is all about dressing up nicely and going to the Church all happy and relaxed? My a$$! I was up from 6am managing the entire transportations, like arranging who’s gonna pick up our English guests, the wedding car, the flowers, who’s gonna transport our family members to Church, the order in which we follow the wedding car, food and tea for the reception, paper plates, cups and so many other things, the wedding program sheet for the Church, the special guests invited to the wedding, parking, etc. Aargh.

Barely 3 hours remaining for the wedding and I was still working, collecting the grand wedding cake from Zote Bakery. I took my cousin, my nephew and two friends along with me and Pi Neihthangi, the main person behind Zote Bakery, gave us a personal tutorial on how to arrange the wedding cake. What a great honor to be taught by the renowned lady herself!

I drove through heavy heavy heavy Aizawl traffic while the others carried the cake on their laps delicately. Ah, that ride was soooo memorable, but I’ll talk about that some other day. Hehehehe.

Once we delivered the cake to the community hall, we had to make sure all the food items and utensils were in place so that the KTP (Christian Youth Fellowship) Refreshment Committee can easily take charge. And then we all ran home to change for the wedding, with just 30 minutes to spare!!!!

Back at home, the women were busy grooming themselves and trying to look their best, with absolutely no idea how much we guys were toiling our asses out.

And finally, I made it to Church. I really don’t remember how, but I did. I welcomed as many guests as I could outside the Church, until the bride arrived with the best man.

The “Here comes the bride” moment I was looking forward to in my first WP post, never happened. Apparently, in our Church (Chaltlang South Presbyterian), we do not follow the practice of the father walking in the Church along with the bride by his side. I was supposed to do the honours of walking my sis to the aisle since dad couldn’t walk, but alas, the Pastor prohibited us from doing that. In our Church, the bride is supposed to walk in alone!

The wedding ceremony went on without any glitches.

Once the Wedding ceremony was over, we had the traditional photo session, where there’s a list of how people should take official photographs with the newlyweds in order, like with the bride’s parents, with the groom’s parents, the bride’s father’s siblings etc etc.

After the photo session, we made our way down to the Church community hall, where a short function was held.


[Popular band “Even Flow” performed two amazing numbers]

The newly married couple then made their way to our house, where they met my bedridden dad.

After that, the groom and his best-man went home (Tourist Lodge), while the bride and bridesmaid changed. We then had a short “inthlahna” (farewell) function at our house, and soon the best man came to collect my sister. She took her bags (one bag!) and got in the car.

The rest of us followed the wedding car (this process is called “in lawina”) and we all drove to Tourist Lodge following the wedding car and singing our traditional “lawi” song - chheih raw kha a lawi dawn e...

[I too changed... heeheeheee]

We had a final function there, and then its dinner time. Amazing food.

Once the dinner party was over, the adults went home, while we youngsters hung around for a while. Great fun we all had. I went home around 12 midnight I think. I really don’t remember. Hehehe.

And of course the next day onwards I was down with high fever and loose motion. But you know what? It was bloody worth it. Hic!

So many people gave their all for this wedding. It would be impossible to name all the people involved, but I really must thank one person who really contributed a lot for this wedding – u Baby, the bridesmaid.

Thank you so much, u Baby.