The simple reason I went to Tamil Nadu was to attend two weddings and a holy thread ceremony (aka upanayanam, think rite of passage à la bar mitzvah for Jews or first holy communion for Roman Catholics). Here’s a snapshot I got at his aunt and uncle’s apartment in Chennai (formerly Madras).
Things to note: first, the weird lighting is not my camera’s pathetic little flash, but the scorching white-hot glare of the videographer’s camera-mounted light. Second, this is a good closeup of what pretty much goes on ritualwise in both the Upanayanam and the weddings. Four priests attending to the liturgical side, while dad (Gopal) wonders, and son (Deepak) tries to remain engaged. Third, the largish TV reminds us we’re in the 21st century. Fourth, the platter of offerings (e.g., plantains, garland, and assorted other stuff) sitting casually on the bricks (complete with kolam) of the hearth. There are also some mangos on the floor, along with flowers and a brass water vessel with dipper. My personal memory of this apartment was the fact that there was a computer with broadband connection in one of the bedrooms, and all the friendly folks who watched me sweat and drink lots of packaged water.