Vellambans* do the Veirdest Things

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Via Mutineer Maisnon’s status message, an…um…interesting celebrity wedding:

Say Anything star Ione Skye and Australian singer-songwriter Ben Lee chose an exotic location and traditional garb for their Hindu wedding in India, captured in this photo for PEOPLE.
About 50 of the couple’s friends and family members, including Josh Radnor from How I Met Your Mother, witnessed the Dec. 29 ceremony in a village on the Bay of Bengal. [People]

Say Anything? How ’bout say WHAT?

My brain is short-circuiting with everything this story conjures for me: Lloyd Dobbler’s love, Chennai/Madras, Depeche Mode’s “Stripped”, Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes”, Claire Danes so-called ex-, possible religious/cultural appropriation, an ex-Beastie Boy-wife…yowza.

To be fair, it wasn’t an entirely random choice; Ben Lee’s spiritual advisor is Indian, and the love guru did preside over the ceremony. That doesn’t make it any less jarring to see on People magazine’s website, though.

The two-hour ceremony was presided over by Lee’s spiritual guru, Sakthi Narayani Amma. Following the ceremony, a reception was held at a nearby guest house with Lee’s friends the Kahn Brothers performing as the wedding band. Lee, 30, and Skye, 37, then gathered the entire wedding party to visit an orphanage and performed for the children there.
The couple plan another ceremony in Los Angeles to legalize their union, since the Indian nuptials were not recognized at home in California.
“We have to go to City Hall tomorrow, and I’m mildly resentful about it,” Lee told the newspaper. “You go through a huge experience on an emotional and spiritual level, then you have to go and do the paperwork. [different People link]

Please correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t everyone have to go to City Hall, to get a marriage license? And is this ceremony all right with all of you? In my entirely unscientific survey of two of you, one of you was offended and the other wasn’t– but only because “it’s not that surprising”. Things that make you go “hmmm“…

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*Ask a Malayalee. Or a Tamilian. Hey, if I had to spend four years of undergrad and two years of grad school asking what dozens of Punjabi or Hindi words meant, you can learn something more than “kundi“. ;)

85 thoughts on “Vellambans* do the Veirdest Things

  1. 51 · Maitri said

    Where’s Ben’s veshti and angavasthram?

    I think that’s the question to which all inquiring minds want an answer. ;) Southie weddings aren’t easy on the men-folk, fashion-wise, are they?

  2. I don’t know what a syrian christian means? catholics from Syria? are they natives of India or no? I have read that Kerala had some 1200 AD trade routes with the middle east, in addition to the arrival of the portugese and perhaps the descendants of those connection. I am not sure if they wear sari for their wedding, but I’ll investigate. Thanks

    If you don’t know about any of this, what exactly were you talking about in your original post?

  3. 52 · A N N A said

    Southie weddings aren’t easy on the men-folk, fashion-wise, are they?

    Full disclosure (so to speak, as it were, if you will):

    I once lost a veshti at a wedding. While I was sitting. In a chair. I learned my lesson and put on a wee bit o’ flesh around the midriff, and that did the trick.

    BUT

    That was nothing compared to staying in a sari during a drag function at a certain liberal arts school. I’d say us men-folk have it pretty easy.

  4. 54 · ptr_vivek said

    Full disclosure (so to speak, as it were, if you will)…That was nothing compared to staying in a sari during a drag function at a certain liberal arts school. I’d say us men-folk have it pretty easy.

    I live for comments that put such a huge smile on my face. ;D Thank you for…disclosing!

  5. Oh this blog is so amusing! I actually had a Malayalee wedding in an American Catholic church, with an American Catholic priest (I couldn’t find a Malu Cath priest in my area and my ‘uncle’ the priest couldn’t make it!)…and while most Kerala brides wear white/cream saris instead of wedding gowns, many ABD (Malus) wear dresses and change into saris for the reception. I, on the other hand,…clevery custom-made a gown made of two cream saris straight from Kerala (courtesy of my mom) so I had the best of both worlds…I even made some pleats on the side of my gown to resemble the front of a sari! Very Cool! My husband (who isn’t Indian or a Vellumban, but rather a Karumban!) tied a thaali around me and draped my head with the mathrakodi, which is the sari I changed into for the reception. The traditional prayers were translated into English for our priest (and half of the wedding guests) and everything was awesome. Each his own….Hindu wedding, spritual wedding, Catholic wedding…whatever…they’re all beautiful! :-) Thanks for your contributions, Anna…I really enjoy reading them!

  6. “I guess I should have waited to comment till after my first cup of coffee:)”

    then we’re alike on that point:) many a comment i’ve made before the all-important first cup of coffee.

  7. I too am betraying my age, but that “Say Anything” moment was classic and IONE SKYE got married Bollywood Hindu style? Somewhere in my Orientalist fantasy landscape John Cusack would be part of that scenario, complete with the Peter Gabriel soundtrack…

  8. ahem. -puli clears his throat- me, me, me, me

    in his best operatic voice….

    “KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI, KUNDI”

    audience applauses. throws roses at puli. puli bows.

    “grazi, grazi….”

  9. LOL at ptr_vivek!

    My dad once lost his dhothi at a satyanarayana puja. my mom was so embarassed. She was like ” I told him to wear pantshirt, but no he had to wear dhoti” Since then, all men in my family have opted for the churidhar sherwani at our otherwise orthodox andhra weddings.

  10. My dad once lost his dhothi at a satyanarayana puja. my mom was so embarassed. She was like ” I told him to wear pantshirt, but no he had to wear dhoti” Since then, all men in my family have opted for the churidhar sherwani at our otherwise orthodox andhra weddings.

    Thats why I have stopped wearing lungis on vacations to Kerala. If absolutely necessary, I wear a belt with it. not purist, i understand. But sensibilities would be hurt far worse (mostly mine) if my flimsy lungi knot (or tuck?) fell prey to an ill-timed ..er..’southwestern’ gust.

  11. Thats why I have stopped wearing lungis on vacations to Kerala. If absolutely necessary, I wear a belt with it. not purist, i understand. But sensibilities would be hurt far worse (mostly mine) if my flimsy lungi knot (or tuck?) fell prey to an ill-timed ..er..’southwestern’ gust.

    A pair of boxers could remedy that.

  12. 54 · ptr_vivek said

    Full disclosure (so to speak, as it were, if you will): I once lost a veshti at a wedding. While I was sitting. In a chair. I learned my lesson and put on a wee bit o’ flesh around the midriff, and that did the trick. BUT That was nothing compared to staying in a sari during a drag function at a certain liberal arts school. I’d say us men-folk have it pretty easy.

    that was funny. i’ve seen this desi rock group wear veshtis when they perform. totally cute. and they’re rocking out onstage. the veshtis stay in place! after i saw that, i want to see the boyf in one, but no such luck. meanwhile, liberal arts school alert! where on earth is louiecypher? i miss him.

    A pair of boxers could remedy that.

    wouldn’t that ruin the effect? a thong maybe? (oh the horror!)

  13. wouldn’t that ruin the effect? a thong maybe? (oh the horror!)

    There would be Banana-Hammocks everywhere!

  14. A pair of boxers could remedy that.

    NV - I like that you assume that not only am I a novice at lungi wearing but I am daring enough (or foolhardy enough?) to venture out with Kitex’s finest without boxers on.

    wouldn’t that ruin the effect? a thong maybe? (oh the horror!)

    Port - I should commission a study on whether a bare-bottommed-incapable-lungi-wearer or a thong-bottomed-incapable-lungi-wearer rates higher on the public humiliation scale.

  15. 66 · non-sequitur said

    A pair of boxers could remedy that.
    NV - I like that you assume that not only am I a novice at lungi wearing but I am daring enough (or foolhardy enough?) to venture out with Kitex’s finest without boxers on.

    Some people are both bold and daring. But if you have boxers, what’s there to be embarrassed about?

    On a side note, I’m still surprised that they haven’t marketed lungis with drawstrings or elastic waistbands. Or have they and I just don’t know about it.

  16. 62 · non-sequitur said

    <

    blockquote Thats why I have stopped wearing lungis on vacations to Kerala.

    65 · NV said

    There would be Banana-Hammocks everywhere!

    this seems to be a marriage made in heaven – bananas and hammocks in god’s own country!

  17. 62 · non-sequitur said

    Thats why I have stopped wearing lungis on vacations to Kerala.

    How do you all define the difference between veshti/dhoti and lungi?

    To me (learned in Chennai), a veshti/dhoti is always a solid color, most often has a border, and is never stitched.

    A lungi has a patter or design, and can be stitched. I always get mine stitched, which makes it a lot easier to keep on, I find, than a veshti/dhoti.

  18. I’d do it more often, but one wants to avoid overexposure, no?

    no problems with that… we don’t mind full monty with the joy of sex in second edition…

  19. ptr_vivek@70

    You analysis of dhoti/vesthi vs. lungi is consistent with mine. In AP, they tie the dhoti differently than TN, Karnataka, and Kerala. Sadly, this art will probably die in this genernation. We need a dhoti2.0 asap.

    BTW I visited your blog today for the first time. Well done. Look for me as a frequent visitor.

  20. 72 · lifelong said

    ptr_vivek@70 You analysis of dhoti/vesthi vs. lungi is consistent with mine. In AP, they tie the dhoti differently than TN, Karnataka, and Kerala. Sadly, this art will probably die in this genernation. We need a dhoti2.0 asap. BTW I visited your blog today for the first time. Well done. Look for me as a frequent visitor.

    Maybe all Indian schools should include a “Home Economics” type class that includes life skills like tying turbans, lungis/dhotis/panchas, and other essential life skills.

  21. I saw this yesterday and what mildly irritated me at first because I saw images of “exocitism” all over the picture eventually subsided. If they believe in the faith and considering the spiritual aspect of it who is anyone to stop them? It wasn’t a Liz Hurley style event, it seemed like it had more heart.

    There are plenty of people apeing the west in terms of rituals, I find it refreshing that someone is following a eastern ritual. Besides I always get excited when I see a bride in Green. Kajol was the only bride (other than myself) I ever saw wear green.

    BTW clergy in the US is licensed to wed couples so that you don’t need to go to court to get married.

  22. Nothing weird about this, and certainly nothing offensive for God sake! How on earth that idea would enter anyone’s head?

    When I was a little girl my mother rented an apartment near to a Hare Krishna temple because it was in a neighborhood she could afford at a time she was just starting out here and we found ourselves going there every Sunday for their free food “Sunday love feast”. It was the only “Hindu” place my mother would allow me to go because desis were a minority there and, being a single desi mom, she obviously did not fit in with the typical crowd at desi cultural centers, temples, whatever, and nor did she want to really. (But even is she did they made it clear she was not welcome, that’s another story for another time). Anyway, we found a middle ground with the Hare Krishnas, even though they can be weird as well. The point is, almost every other Sunday there was a traditional Hindu wedding taking place complete with a thousand son blessing and the whole kit n kaboodle. Many of these marriages have ended in divorce however, but that’s another story for another time. Is there a Hindu ceremony for that I wonder?

    Ever since yoga and other Hindu dharmas have made their way westward these weddings have been going on. There are literally thousands of photos online of these cross cultural weddings.

    And something about a non desi man in sherwani just does it for me….

  23. I once lost a veshti at a wedding. While I was sitting. In a chair. I learned my lesson and put on a wee bit o’ flesh around the midriff, and that did the trick

    i was just following femidesi’s bitterosity and chanced on this little bonbon. my personal experience with a veshti is more pleasant, but i do wear boxers. and btw – in parts of TN, the population foregoes the undergarment, and you often see saggage peeking out the bottom when guys with lunghees around their knees bend over.

  24. FemiDesi said:

    And something about a non desi man in sherwani just does it for me….

    Yea I feel the same way about interracial style.

    Jewish women with afros Latin women in Amish clothing Indian women in Ninja gear White women in Sudanese clothing Black women in sweater vests. and dont even get me started on Chinese women wearing Cambodian sandals.

    So hot.

  25. “Puli, What is your take on Gaza? Inquiring minds want to know! ;-)

    I think the place has been screwed up for centuries. I think it will still be screwed up for centuries. My grandchildren’s grandchildren can take a vacation to the middle east to see screwed up stuff happening. I don’t believe these places should have anything to do with the US. They are too screwed up. I think we should stop supporting Israel and not really talk to either country. Let them all burn. Its not our business. I generally think the US should not really get involved in a lot of these problems that have been going on since centuries before the US was a glimmer in Thomas Jefferson’s eye. Let Israel fend for itself. Let Palestine deal with their own problems. The region is medieval and backwards and we should not have anything to do with them.

  26. Yea I feel the same way about interracial style. Jewish women with afros Latin women in Amish clothing Indian women in Ninja gear White women in Sudanese clothing Black women in sweater vests. and dont even get me started on Chinese women wearing Cambodian sandals. So hot.

    LOL.

    I think desi women look hottest in non-desi gear, jeans and tees to be more specific. But I think non-desis, rock desi wear pretty well. Check out this family, nobody can say they look bad.

    That dude is HOT! And his wife makes the prettiest non-desi “desi bride” I’ve ever seen.

  27. PG: is that you fishing for compliments on your family’s behalf? that dude is indeed cute. but…i don’t endorse the choice of sari. i’m sorta hard to please that way.

  28. Looks pretty good to me, except what’s with the green sari and fifty guests. A proper Hindu wedding means five hundred guests, minimum. Someone should have told them that. And a green sari is what, like The Bride Wore Black?

  29. Goris should stick to their own stuff. They don’t realise how stupid they look trying to be Indian n trying to be with desi or Arab lok. They r just not happy being what they r. If IRS not desi or Arab they try to be black or Latino or sumthing.