SASHTIABDHAPOORTHI

As Event Managers people tend to think that only weddings have a great amount of work involved for us. That is not so. Every event has to  be planned with a difference. As event planners that is what is foremost in our mind when we take up an assignment.

As wedding planners we go by the traditions followed by the respective families of the bride and groom. Same applies to life events like Sashtiabdhapoorthi. Each coupe involved in the celebrations has a different idea about going about the rituals.

While some like to make it a socio – religious event, some others prefer to have exclusively as a religious function at a  temple  with just the close family members.

Either way it is an event that requires a lot of planning by us in coordination with the client as it involves elaborate rituals.

Shashtiabdhapoorthi is a Sanskrit word {Shashti = 60; Abdha = Years; Poorthi = Completion} that signifies the completion of 60 years in a person’s life.

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Although it has taken up the connotation of a socio – religious ceremony in recent times, the term as such has deep significance.

According to the Vedas the life span of a man is supposed to be 120 years and completion of 60 years is considered a milestone – completing 50% of his lifetime.

The Hindu calendar also follows the 60 year cycle [ Interestingly the Chinese Calendar too has the 60 year cycle] So on this day all celestial bodies are said to be in alignment just the way they were at the time of the person’s birth.

The rituals undertaken at this time is said to rejuvenate and bring good health and happiness to the couple celebrating the occasion.

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Elaborate homams are performed at the end of which the couple reaffirms their marriage wows with the re-enactment of the wedding rituals especially the Maangalya Dhaaranam.

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The general itinerary begins with the Ganapathi Homam, followed by the Sankalpam, Nandhee Shradham [invoking the blessings of the ancestors] punyaham, Mangalasnaanam and Mangalya dhaaranam.

An important aspect of the proceedings is the Kalasa Sthaapanam. The number of Kalasaas used can vary from 60, 33 or 12.Various Vedic mantras are chanted a particular number of times and the water in the Kalasaas are thus charged with positive energy.

The water from these kalasas are then poured on the couple during the Mangala Snaanam and it is said to energize and endow the couple with good health hence.

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Various homams like the Ayush Homam, Navagraha Homam, Dhanvantrii Homam, Maha Mrithyunjaya Homam and Jayaathi Homam are performed. All these are performed to bless the couple with good health, longevity & prosperity.

No ceremony of this nature is complete without the ‘Dhaanams’.

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10 types of Dhaanam or offerings are given away by the couple to be blessed with happiness and prosperity. This is known as Dasa Dhaanam. Dasa = Ten.

  1. Cow or ‘Gho’ Dhaanam: Cow is scared to the Hindus and Gho Dhaanam is said to bring about peace and good fortune. Nowadays in lieu of it, Gho Mooplya [price of the cow] or even Coconut can be offered to get the same effect.
  2. Gold or Hiranya Dhaanam is supposed to free the giver from all sins.
  3. Bhoo Dhaanam or Offering Land: This is now completed with the offering of a sandal wood log in lieu of land.
  4. Vasthra Dhaanam or Cloth offerings
  5. Jaggery is offered as Dhaanam to appease Goddess Lakshmi for prosperity
  6. Salt is offered in charity to appease Lord Rudra for good Health
  7. Food Grains are offered as Dhaanam
  8. Silver is offered in charity to please our ‘pithrus’ or ancestors and Lord Vishnu as well.
  9. Ghee Dhaanam is given in a bronze vessel and is said to purify and free the soul. Offering Ghee is said to please all Devathas.
  10. Sesame is offered in an iron or copper vessel. It helps the giver to wash away all his sins and enjoy a renewed life.

Besides these the Pancha or Five Dhaanams are also offered by many.

These Include:

A religious book

Vasthram or clothes

Deepam.

Udhaka Kumbam [water taken in a brass or copper vessel]

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Finally the Phala dhaanam and the Bhoori Dhakshina are done to seek the blessings of all the scholars present and participating there.

It ends with the Maha Aashirwaadham.

As you can see the poojas are held on two different days and as event planners we normally recommend the first day’s poojas to be performed amidst close family at home. Day 2 is made elaborate due to the presence of extended family and relatives who look forward to the chance of blessing and being blessed by the couple.

How to choose your Wedding Planner?

Wedding planning is an elaborate affair considering the types of weddings we have in India panning over all regions, religions, communities and languages.A wedding in the family is an exciting event for all since it involves putting together a number of elements to the satisfaction of all to a fixed budget. 
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For those without a budget constraint planning a wedding may not be difficult since it is  a matter of bringing together the best of things and getting it to a shape. With choices galore, the rich and the famous only need to decide on what they require and even the most unique of things can be created  since money is not a constraint. As for talent we have the best of artisans and craftsmen in India. 
 
For those with budget, time or manpower constraint it is definitely wise to appoint a wedding planner or event manager to put together all that is required without any hassles. But the choice one makes needs to be prudent else the purpose of appointing a wedding planner is completely lost. 
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There is a very common misconception that only the rich and moneyed class people can approach wedding planners since it is extremely expensive. Wedding planners are generally sought out by people doing weddings out side their home town, people without support in terms of manpower for getting all arrangements done. weddings to be performed at short notice or by non resident Indians who wish to perform the wedding back in their village, hometown or city. 

There are some who despite having the time and finance still look for wedding planners for the simple reason that they would want to source the best and make their family wedding a unique experience. 
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In such a situation who is the wedding planner best suited for you ? How do you decide on this ? There are no set rules by which a client goes. To a large extent your personal judgement and comfort levels with the wedding planner matter the most. 
 
There are three types of wedding planners. The first types gets about arranging services going by the budget given by the client and charges a professional fee for it. 
 
The second type gives you  innumerable options over a wide budget and lets you choose, which invariably increases your budget. 
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Then there is the third type of wedding planner who takes a personal interest in every project and puts his name and reputation ahead of money and goes all out to understand your needs and works creatively within your scheme of things. 
 
Honesty and accountability should be the prime traits a client should look for in a wedding planner. Honesty in terms of projects done, services offered and taking responsibility is very important for development of trust and confidence. A wedding planner should genuinely showcase his / her work alone and not undertake to do something that they have no knowledge about or not ventured into yet. 
 
This genuineness helps in bonding better with a client since expectations are not too high and the working relationship is founded on truthfulness
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Respecting the clients budget is of utmost important. In case the client has no idea of the cost involved and is asking for the unrealistic elements the wedding planner should have the patience to explain and let the client absorb reality. 
 
If possible the wedding planner should look to provide less expensive options or alternative for the same and clinch the assignment. 
 
Most important is the factor of being open to suggestions. The wedding planner at all times should  keep the views and interests of the client in mind and be open to experimenting and creating the best of what is available. The wedding planner should not force his/ her opinion on the client because it makes his / her job easy and comfortable. 
 
Client satisfaction is foremost and hence that should be borne in mind at all times. 
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Always look for a wedding planner who can raise up to the occasion with quick decisions and presence of mind to tackle any untoward emergencies. It is true that the client should be taken into confidence at all times but there will be occasions that call for quick decisions and the wedding planner needs to take a call sensibly and in the general interest of all. 
 
Being accessible is another important element in choosing a wedding planner. A real professional will always be prompt in answering, messaging, mailing or returning calls. Regular follow ups should be done by the wedding planner and not the other way around. 
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Getting updated on the proceedings and arrangements is the prerogative of the client and the wedding planner should be prompt in this. 
 
The working relationship between the client and the wedding planner should be optimum for the success of any event,. Over a couple of meetings the client should  be able to judge the wedding planner and come to a decision on whether to proceed or not
 
Word of mouth references are another fool proof way in which to go for the right wedding planner  

METTI

Metti or the toe ring is worn by women in India as an indicator / symbol of their married status. It is referred to in Hindi as ‘bichiya’ , ‘jodav’ in Marathi, ‘mettelu’ in Telugu & ‘kaalungura’ in Kannada.

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It is believed that wearing Metti on the second toe exerts pressure on certain nerves in the body that relate to good health and the reproductive system, thus enhancing chances of pro creation. In India we firmly believe in the importance of nerve endings in our toes and it is referred to as ‘prana’ or life force. In other words it also refers to the concept of acupressure points in the toes.

 

Generally toe rings are made of Silver only since Gold is considered to be ‘ pure’ and hence forbidden from being worn below the waist.

 

Silver is also said to be a good conductor that is capable of absorbing energy from Mother Earth and passing along the energy to rejuvenate the entire system.

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In ancient times it was men who wore mettis as a symbol of their marital status  but the practice was discontinued by them for varied reasons. In fact even today in some weddings you will find the groom wearing the metti during the wedding ceremony. In fact there are episodes in ancient Hindu tenets to support this theory.

 

It is believed that Lord Vishnu with his consort Thayaar decided to teach a lesson to Thirumangai Alzhar who was waylaying and looting newly married couples of their ornaments in the Thirunagari area. He appeared with Thaayaar [ bedecked in gold ornaments] as a couple and was waylaid and looted. Azhwar was unable to remove Lord Vishnu’s metti and is said to have bit it with his strong teeth and removed it. But as the Lord willed otherwise Azhwar was unable to life the booty and so goes the story of what followed.

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Even today there are historic & religious references to these episodes in temples in those areas.

 

It is clearly obvious from this that any practice proposed in the Hindu Dharma is based on science and it is not a religion made of rituals and superstitions but one on strong scientific theories on how to live life.

As event planners a common problem we see faced by many a bride is at the moment when the metti is to placed on the toe. Invariably there is an element of discomfort and delay when the metti is placed on the toe and it refuses to go in smoothly.

As wedding planners we always carry a small bottle of vaseline with us. When the toe is covered with vaseline there is lubrication and this helps in slipping on the toe ring smoothly without hurting the skin or causing delay in rituals.

NALANGU

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Event Management, fun as it may seem from the outside involves  a lot of preparation in terms of understanding the various traditions of the different religions and communities spread across India. Event planning as the term denotes is simply making available all the things required for the conduct of a function well before time and in the required manner.

The term ‘Nalangu’ is used in different connotations during weddings across various communities in the South of India. As wedding event managers it is important for us to have a good understanding of the various rituals and traditions followed by each community to be able to make the necessary arrangements.

In some communities the term  ‘Nalangu’ refers to the ceremony that is held on the evening prior to the actual wedding. Here the bride is bedecked and seated and all the Sumangalis in the family apply sandal paste to her face, hands and legs. Kumkum is then applied on the forehead. Rose water and flowers are then sprinkled over her head as a form of blessing. Aarathi is then performed to end the ritual.

This is considered by some as a cleansing as well as a beautification ceremony of the bride. Whatever be the actual significance the presence of aromatic elements like sandal paste, flowers , rose water etc lends a harmonious and auspicious note as a precursor to the wedding.

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In Tamil Brahmin weddings ‘Nalangu’ refers to the fun filled game session that comes immediately after the wedding is over. It is looked forward to as an opportunity for both families to interact in a relaxed manner sharing a sense of bonhomie and camaraderie after the hectic wedding preparations. A lot of music and cheer fills the air with both parties taking sides in supporting the bride and groom in the course of the small games that are conducted.

A few decades ago this ritual was mostly skipped as most felt it was unnecessary and not suitable to current day scenario. But in recent times the young couples evince great interest in the conduct of this wedding ritual. As event managers we are often asked to bring in innovative games to make it a participative ritual.

The bride and groom are seated opposite each other on a mat on the floor and the session starts with a small ‘make – up’ session where the couple have to apply sandal paste, kumkum, powder and other beautifying elements on each other. This is followed by rolling of the coconut across the floor to each other which is followed by a tug – of – war contest to see who is stronger of the two in retrieving the coconut, exchange of rice & dal, and breaking of the appalams to the accompaniment of loud cheers and shouts.

In some sects this tradition is  a part of the wedding function and is therefore not taken out as a separate event.

These games were of significance in olden days where at times the bride and groom were not given an opportunity to meet each other before the wedding.  Such games helped them tide over their inhibitions and facilitated physical proximity. It is also said that when child marriages were the order of the day in yester years such games were conducted to entertain the child bride & groom. Now it is more of a fun filled entertainment session.

SANGEETH – Pre Wedding Events

Week long weddings were a thing of yore. Or so we thought. The trend is back again with elaborate events being added prior to weddings.These events are not  necessarily traditional in nature. They are more in the nature of socializing – of families getting together.

 

These get togethers are also in a manner of getting to know the respective families of the bride and groom. As wedding planners we are often asked to organize specially planned Mehndi, Sangeeth & Bachelor / Bachelorette parties a day or two prior to the wedding.
Event planners  never had it so good in terms of facing amazing challenges as far as these pre wedding events are concerned. For one youngsters these days expect a lot and the couple want their event to be extremely unique and not run of the mill types. So they keep looking for means to make it different be it in terms of themes,venue or even food.
As Event planners and wedding planners we are often bombarded with questions by prospective clients on how to make their event special. First of all we try to understand their taste and requirements and try to get a glimpse of the couple’s personality.In case they have an open mind with no clue on how to go about things we then take on the responsibility of providing them with ideas they can go with.
If the couple are a fun loving type with a huge gang of friends then they normally opt for a dance floor and a DJ to take things forward. If the Sangeeth is more of family with a shy couple to boot then we recommend a lively MC who can draw people out of their shells and create an atmosphere of ease and comfort.
In the case of Archana’s and Vijay Krishna’s Sangeeth it was a surprise party thrown in honor of the couple by Archana’s sister Arathi and brother – in – law Kartik. When Arathi approached us from Delhi all she said was she had fixed a theme and the left was left to us. The theme she wanted was a Lucknawi evening filled with fun and merriment.
We started of by designing an e – invite that clearly sent the message across about how the guests were expected to be dressed.
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Next we set about getting uniform caps to present to all the guests after they arrived.
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Since Archana was fond of chocolates we decided to welcome her with a Chocolate bouquet. made of Ferrero Rocher chocolates.
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We organised for a Mehndi stall so that relatives who had just landed from out of town could still get mehndi done for the wedding that was to follow a day later.
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We had our fantastic MC who took over the proceedings smoothly engaging the entire crowd in games, dance and music in an amazing manner.
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Arathi had wanted a cake and we decided to have several small cup cakes in shades of blue and white icing with a cute little heart in the center arranged in different tiers with a special egg less round cake filled with  blue and white roses for the actual cake cutting.
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The guests loved every moment of the evening filled with rollicking fun.
A specially designed Mug was given to each of the guests as a complimentary gift from Haritham.
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And we had a huge Wishing Banner placed so that each of the guests could express / write their good wishes for the couple.
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A grand dinner was a fitting finale to  a fabulous evening that was filled with great memories for all.