Friday, 27 June 2008


Yesterday I attended the upanayanam ceremony of a cousin’s children. A religious ceremony, it was conducted simply with only close relatives in attendance, and a lunch to follow.

The invitation had carried a request that we inform the hosts of how many would be present, and would participate in the lunch. This is quite unheard of in the circles where upanayanams are conducted. Everyone is welcome to eat. Loads of food is cooked, expecting many people to eat. And then invariably, a lot of perishable food is left over and hasty and unwise decisions made as to their disposal.

A simple note like this, very much like the RSVP (Repondez s’il vous plait) is very much to be appreciated, (though some hard core traditionalists might object on the grounds that it reflects on the hospitality of the host). It gives the host an idea of how many people will actually lunch, and suitable arrangements can be made. Caterers spiral out of control and go overboard with the numbers – when they cook for 30 around 45 people can be fed, as they easily admit.

And the menu was perfect – a good balance of vegetables and proteins, with the right amount of side dishes (including chips and appalam), sweets and Payasam (kheer), all served in reasonable helpings, second helpings on request. I found that everyone enjoyed the food, and at the end, very little left on the leaves to be cleared up. A far cry from the upanayanam I had attended two months ago. There were two kheers, three sweets, and to top it all, three varieties of ice cream, not to mention the innumerable side dishes. The hosts said they had been pressurized by the caterers that this was the norm. (The ‘norm’ at weddings is mind-boggling). This keeping-up-with-the-Joneses syndrome is an unhealthy practice, for there is just so much a person can eat at a meal. It benefits no one except the caterers.

Let the pipers put their foot down and call the tune – good food with adequate variety in moderate quantity - this should be the norm on all occasions, and will the guests be good enough to let them know how many will partake of lunch/dinner.

Cross-filed from GIAS.


delhidreams said...

thanks for visiting delhidreams raji
hope u'll be a regular visitor :)

and i completely agree with you on this post. food should be good to eat and in moderate quantities. you won't believe how much food is wasted in delhi weddings, and when i see all those hungry street urchins, pickng it up from waste bins, i really feel ashamed of my so called better status in society. if u can, pls congratulate the hosts from my side too. perhaps, this beautiful practice would turn into a fad and then people might actually practice it, if not for anything else, then to become environmentally conscious and 'hip' in bargain :)

and yes, if my phonebook numbers vanish, i would also look for my number first ;)

Maddy said...

i heard that we are all becoming more wasteful in india now - with each event becoming a bigger and bigger function & celebration - each event having specialist event managers and the such...the days of moderation are being forgotten.

Alaphia Zoyab said...

Hi Raji,

Very nice post. why is common sense so rare?


Yes Adi, I hope to read some more of your exquisite poetry.
I do see the waste and I consider it criminal. I shall pass on your message to our hosts.

Sadly, Maddy, true. The haves keep on spending on newer schemes and ideas in a case of oneupman-ship and the havenots keep on struggling....

Alaphia, what can one say - if even one voice is heard above the tumult and can draw attention to this, that would be a step in the right direction.