Married To An Iyengar

My top ten list of things only someone who is married to an Iyengar will get…

10. The iyengar puliyodarai (tamarind rice) is hands down the best. No competition.

  1. Be prepared to do namaskarams* multiple times (4 to be exact – this was something I found out the hard way during our wedding ceremony. Boy was that a workout!)
  1. All iyengars are related to Hemamalini in some way, shape or form. Just kidding. They do take an unusual pride in their celebs though! My own kids have figured out they’re related to R Madhavan (the Tamil actor) through my brother-in-law’s wife who, I think, is a 2nd cousin to him.
  1. Madisar – Iyengar madisar is easier to drape, but I personally am partial to the Iyer madisar, which I think is more graceful.
  1. Chithiya does not mean what you think it does. After 26 years, I’m still a bit unclear on exactly what it means.
  1. Everything is Perumal!
  1. “Kai thirutharathu” means to cut vegetables. What exactly are we correcting?
  1. Iyers never serve rice first – it’s considered sacrilege to serve rice on an empty plate. Iyengars have no such rule. Although I’m used to it after 26 years, I still feel a twinge of guilt every now and then when I serve rice first with no other vegetables on the plate
  1. Of course, saathamuthu (rasam), karamudhu (evolved from kariamudhu,kari meaning vegetable), thirukkanamudhu (payasam/kheer), dhaddhiyonnam (thayir saadam/yogurt rice) all took a while to get used to. Especially dhaddhi which also means a dullhead!
  1. And the top thing I realized married to an iyengar is, they’re really not that different from the rest of us. I am very lucky to be married into this family of Iyengars – equally nerdy as ours if not more, funny to boot, and most of them accepted me readily.

My parents in law and my brother-in-law went on a road trip with us during one of our India trips to the Brihadeswarar temple in Thanjavur/Tanjore, because it had been my dream, completely debunking the myth that Iyengars cross the street when they see a Shiva temple. Even if we had to stop at Srirangam and pay our respects to Ranganatha Swamy first. Raj and his brother recently went around the Thiruvannamalai hill, all 14 kms of it, barefoot, to fulfill my mother in law’s wish/prarthanai on her 80th birthday.

To quote Scout Finch (To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee) “There’s just one kind of folks. Folks!”



* The Indian custom of prostrating to the elders/gods to get their blessings, especially during our weddings, a ton of times





2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Vara
    Jun 14, 2016 @ 22:27:18

    Missed your writing Sri, another classic…loved it!

    Liked by 1 person


  2. sri
    Jun 14, 2016 @ 22:29:57

    Thank you Vara 🙂



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