Let’s start off with a quiz on South Indian wedding feast
1. What’s the most important reason for attending a South Indian wedding?
No prizes for guessing! It’s the South Indian wedding feast. To hell with the groom and the bridegroom.
2. Are south Indian wedding feasts free for guests?
Every business transaction requires an investment from at least one party. That investment is the gift. In other words, the gift is your ticket to the South Indian wedding feast. It’s up to you if you can make it count!
Seriously, wedding feasts have come a long way!
Here is an extract from The Mahabharata that describes the what’s in store for a suitable match for the daughter of King Drupada of Panchala.
She will choose from noble suitors gathered from the west and east,
Bright and fair shall be the wedding, rich and bounteous be the feast!
Of course, the rest is history.
Long story short (pun intended), before you go to any South Indian wedding feast, you need to be aware of the fact that feasts are probably the only reason most of the guests have shown up. Now, this brings in an element of competition. Imagine yourself to be a gladiator with no spectators. Would you ever go into a gladiator ring without training or preparation?
Preparing yourself for a South Indian wedding feast
There are three things you need to do before venturing to attend a South Indian wedding feast. Read these tips carefully.
1. Mastering the banana leaf
What’s synonymous with a South Indian wedding feast – It’s the banana leaf! Don’t worry, you will not be eating the banana leaf. That’s for the goats and cows after the banana leaf is discarded.
Eating on banana leaf is an experience! However, to experience the joys of eating on the banana leaf, you need to master certain techniques and etiquette.
In simple words, without understanding the intricacies of eating on the banana leaf, you will be like a lamb among a pride of lions.
Don’t worry, just watch this video tutorial on how to eat on a banana leaf.
Now that you have learned the fundamentals of eating on a banana leaf, let’s put you on some advanced techniques.
2. Getting a wingman or three
As with dating, getting a wingman (or wing woman?) to accompany you is very important for any South Indian wedding feast.
However, our recommendation is that you need at least three more wingmen or wing women to join you.
Here is how they work. Look at the diagram below.
When you have three friends with you, you should strategically seat yourself away from the direction from which the caterers bring in the food items one by one. The advantage of this approach is that you can then have your friends ahead of you to quickly tell you if the item being served is worth the space on your banana leaf before it is served! This way you can maximize the limited space on your banana leaf to pile up items that you love eating. This is also a socially conscious approach as you minimize food waste!
3. Don’t forget the advanced preparations
Rome was not built in a day and neither is your preparation for attending a South Indian wedding feast! You should prepare well. A minimum of 1-week’s notice is required for any guest to maximize the ROI at the South Indian wedding feast. Well, it’s pretty easy. You should start fasting, at least, 1-week before the D-day. But remember to drink plenty of water and make sure you stay alive before your attend the South Indian wedding feast.
Experienced guests also have other strategies to prepare for the South Indian wedding feast. One week before the marriage, try practicing fasting followed by an eating binge. If you have Muslim friends, draw inspiration from Ramzan. This will help you maximize food intake and prepare your stomach for the D-day assault. Indulge your senses by watching as many food shows as possible on television.
Four strategies on the wedding day
Now it’s time to put into practice everything you have learned and trained for to ace your South Indian wedding feast.
This technique is also called a “recce” unofficially. If you are a terrorist planning to plant a bomb, you will first spend some time observing the location and all its vulnerabilities. When you first arrive at the wedding hall, remember to mentally map out the place and all the hurdles between you and the dining hall.
It’s important that you identify all the blind spots and make sure the dining hall is never in your blind spot at all the times. In an emergency, you may have to abandon all protocols to rush to the dining hall.
2. Bait & switch
You will notice that there is a big queue to meet the couple. Every one of them in the queue is your competitors in the dining hall. For novices that have never attended a wedding before, there are three reasons people line up in the South Indian wedding.
- To hand over the gift to the couple (A great way to get rid of ‘gifts’)
- Take a photograph with the couple (Indians are used to giving attendance from an early age)
- Get to the dining hall as quickly as possible (Like Flash Gordon, if possible)
You will have to somehow get in front of this queue or risk the possibility of the kitchen running out of some of your favorite items. The best strategy to cut the line is to pretend you know somebody in the line and inquire about them like a long lost friend.
Before they know what hit them, you have left all the suckers behind. What’s left for you to do now is to hand over the gift to the couple, take a quick photograph, and make a dash for the dining hall.
3. Timing of the food service
You should keep pace with the frequency with which dishes are served otherwise you will be still enjoying starters while the service moves on to the main course. Here is how it works.
Invariably the bride’s uncles are keeping a close watch on wedding crashers who come in just for the feast and you don’t want to attract their attention.
If you start demanding items that were already served to the rest of the crowd, you will stand out and attract unnecessary attention.
Having wingmen also comes into play in these situations. If you are falling behind the service, your wingman closest to the caterer (as he walks by serving food) can alert you to what’s coming up next so that you can make room on your banana leaf. Rookies will find that the caterer will pass them by if they are still working on the other items!
4. The importance of the wingman
We saw how important your wingman is when it comes to providing an early warning on what’s good and what’s coming up next. However, you cannot take just any random hungry friend as your wingman. You need to pick them carefully. Here are some broad traits or characteristics of your ideal wingman.
- They will have a keen sense of observation. They need to spot a caterer carrying the food items at least from 200 meters distance.
- They will share similar tastes when it comes to food items. How else will they give you advance notice when they taste something good?
- They themselves are not gluttons. Poor eaters are ideal wingmen. This way, you can polish off the leftovers from their banana leaf without feeling guilty. After all, you are helping in the war against food waste!
Always draw inspiration from the wolf. They always hunt in packs and so should you.
Put our scientifically proven and time-tested tips to practice at your next South Indian wedding feast and let us know how it worked out for you.
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