August 17, 2013

Kelvan - A Maharashtrian Wedding Ritual

"Mom, please no more Kelvan's now!", cried a bride-to-be sitting next to me. As a Maharashtrian custom, we hosted a party for my distant cousins' daughter (Yes! I was a "Maasi" even before I was born) 10 days before her wedding day. It got rescheduled several times to end up being her last Kelvan ever. My mom being an over enthusiastic host invited all the key people (over 20 people) who were supposed to work on the wedding. Consequently, a few of them didn't turn up. The rest of them were too tired to enjoy a full course buffet. The bride was so stressed out that she couldn't stop worrying about her saree delivery and her diet. To be honest, I didn't understand what she was actually going through that time. I was like whats the big deal, why crib over just a dinner! Now, after having gone through the same phase, I am thankful at least she did attend it. I feel 2-3 days before your wedding, you MIGHT be a little in your best senses. Its 10 days before the wedding while all the madness happens in a brides life! No matter how much you plan.

For those who don't know, a Kelvan is like a formal treat arranged for a Maharashtrian bride / groom only after he/she is formally engaged i.e after the "SakharPuda". This is usually arranged by close relatives and family friends. Its like a Maharashtrian bridal shower with major focus is on food. Those who have invited take extra care to cook what the bride/groom likes the most. What looks like just another dinner on the outside, becomes extremely complicated when you have a bridezilla in making. The grooms generally don't mind a tradition which is focussed on food.

Traditionally, this used to be a small home-cooked vegetarian lunch/dinner arranged for the bride, her parents and siblings (at max). The bride is given a small gift by those who have invited her. NOW, I have also seen people booking a banquet halls for Kelvan's! These days, the brides' extended family also invites the groom and vice versa. It is a great idea for your family to know your fiancé better. Although, this becomes all the more difficult to arrange dates. Also, these days bride/groom's food preference has also changed the custom of serving vegetarian food only.

Fortunately/unfortunately I was to be engaged only 2 months before the wedding. Did I tell you that my parents are overly social and have a zillion friends and are touch with all the relatives they have on this planet? This meant, I would land up only eating heavy duty Kelvan's in the next 2 months and do nothing else.

What I did:

  • I told all my close associations that I would have more fun if the Kelvan was before the Engagement. Some agreed, but some aunties did not budge saying its against the rules. I am sure they only wanted whats best for me. But I must say, I could thoroughly enjoy the elaborate lunches that happened quite a few months before the wedding. 
  • I told my mom (and thankfully she empathised) that it is not possible for me to over commit myself specially with a full time job to look after. So every time somebody invited us, she genuinely thanked them and said we would come after the wedding (Update: We couldn't do that as we then had another wedding within 5 months)
  • I love how one set of friends have a common Kelvan for who ever is getting married in the group. Saves time and so much fun! 


Things to remember:

  • Don't make Kelvans a prestige issue. Give the bride/groom's calendar a priority. Don't you think with all the wedding shopping, handling the vendors, venue research that they have to do over and above their normal routine, they deserve it more?
  • Do not make the bride/groom overeat just because you have cooked especially for them. Keep in mind that they jeopardise their diet to spend time with you. Surprise them a healthy new dish they have never had. I am sure your efforts will be appreciated.
  • Out of all the kelvans I attended, only 2 were vegetarian Kelvans. Trust me I had an overdose of non veg food and the vegetarian feast actually turned out to be more interesting and easy on my stomach.
  • If you are the bride/groom, plan well. If possible attend as many Kelvans as possible. I am sure you will have fun. And you need a break from all the wedding planning dont you? Compliment the hosts who put in so much efforts for you.



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