Marapaachi Bommai Kalyanam - 2008
 
May 16, 2008 

Recently Sri Sumukhi Rajasekharan Memorial Foundation celebrated the "Marapaachi Bommai Kalyanam" (wedding of the wooden dolls) on 27th April 2008, as a part of its sixth annual Balar Chithirai Kalai Vizha, at Sri Dakshinamurthy Auditorium, Mylapore. The Mylapore Trio - S.Surendranath, S.Amarnath and S.Aparna, "Sakala Kala Valli" Revathy Sankkaran, members and children of the Foundation conducted the Doll Wedding with Aattam, Paattam and Kondaattam. It was an eye opener and a new experience to the younger generation. The wedding was conducted in a traditional manner headed by Revathy Sankkaran, who presented the show in a very lively, interesting and fascinating manner, peppered with lot of information about customs and traditions. Her songs, lyrics, dialogues, abinayam and bhavam, enthralled the audience. 
 
The stage set by the Trio was traditionally colourful and vibrant which included Maa Kolam with Kaavi (flour kolam embellished with red colorings), Maa illai (mango leaves), Thoranam (decorative panel), Vaazhai Maram (plantain tree), Mandapam, Unjal (swing). Arakku Koora Pudavai (red silk sari) and Mayil Kan Pattu Veshti (silk sarong with peacock feather design) used as back drop, added a symbolic touch to the auspicious ambience. The doll pairs of various sizes (two inches to two feet) were dressed up and bedecked with jewels, representing various communities and styles including traditional type of wearing them like Madisar and Panchakacham. 
 

The wedding began with a Mangala Nadhaswaram, Maapillai azhaipu, Kaasi yathirai, Maalai Maatral (exchange of garlands), Kan Unjal, Maangalya Dharanam, Aarathi, Paaligai Kummi Kolaatam, Nalangu and Mangalam. A group of girls and boys trained by the Mylapore Trio rendered traditional marriage songs, according to the sequence, which was highly appreciated by one and all. Little girls performed Kolaattam. Another group of girls who were dressed up in Madisar or 9 yards sari, who took up sides (as bride and groom family) enacted appropriate roles in the wedding. To top it all, an octogenarian lady Ponnamal Gopalaswami was called upon stage to tie the Thali (mangalsutra) to the 2 feet bride Parimalam (groom Palathope Vakil Peran Seemachu). 

Revathy's list of Seer (parents' gifts for marriage) vessels was awesome. The seer items included an array of antique vessels, batchanam 3 varieties of Paruppu Thengai Koodu, Murukku, Adirasam, Laddu, Kopprai carving, Sakkara Achu Bommais, Maida Cake in the form of Saree and Dothi, Vilayadal Saman (toys) included various dresses, jewellery, makeup set, antique wooden and maakal choppu samaan, an array of bead work, Kasi Yatirai props, and most of them were hand made by the children of the Foundation. 
 
The entire show of 2 ½ hours was jam-packed. The audience also presented themselves in traditional attire. All the people who attended the wedding were given Thambulam and Sakkarai (sweet) Pongal. This was followed by the Prize Distribution function of the Balar Chithirai Kalai Vizha. The prizes were given away by the chief guest Dr. Prema Kasturi (Former Professor & Head of the Dept. of History, WCC, Chennai). 

In short, this wedding created an impact and awareness among the younger generation, and a time to reminiscence for the old and turned the town (Mylapore) red. Many requested the Foundation, that this custom of Marapaachi wedding, with all its paraphernalia be repeated in other parts of the city and abroad too. The rasikas felt that the Foundation should continue to revive such customs and conventions based on tradition and culture, which are becoming obsolete...