Void Deck Gala
Story By: Sameera Begum
Photos By: Nivitha D/O Ravichandran
“Almost 250 people attended my second Sadangu function,” said Nivitha, a 19-year-old Indian who was born and raised in Singapore.
Sadangu, or otherwise known as the coming of age ceremony, is a popular and significant ceremony that happens in almost every South Indian household all around the world. It is the celebration when a girl first receives her menstruation.
The ceremony in the South Indian culture appraises the female’s generative power, which is considered sacred and dangerous. The girl is believed to reach maturity when she gets her menstruation and takes upon a more enhanced status in the family and society. Therefore, the significance of this ceremony is to praise the transformation from a girl to a woman, who is ready for marriage and ultimately, childbearing.
Her first Sadangu function can be described as small, yet satisfying. Nivitha’s closest relatives and family friends were invited. Her mother and grandmother personally prepared the food for the guests, while her father took care of photography for the event.
Her maternal uncles also played an important role during her Sadangu. Each of her three maternal uncles blessed her by presenting a saree and jewellery. Nivitha then changed into each of the sarees they got her, a way of thanking them for their blessings.
However, her second Sadangu ceremony came in as a direct contradiction to the first one.
It happened three months after she attained puberty. Her family rented out the void deck of her apartment block and they set up a stage where Nivitha would be seated for the evening. Tables and chairs were set up for guests and food for more than 200 guests was catered. Professional photographers hounded the place trying to capture the event.
“It was a ceremony arranged for convenience, since many of my family members weren’t in Singapore during the first ceremony,” she explained.
Her friends, her parent’s colleagues and friends, and relatives from Malaysia were all present for that night. Trays of Indian traditional items such as coconuts and flowers were laid on the stage.
The rituals carried out though, were similar to the ones that happened during her first Sadangu. Married women came up to the stage to bless her and welcome her into womanhood and her three uncles gifted her sarees, which she changed into.
Nivitha, who has never been exposed to these traditions felt strongly for this ceremony.
“Of all the ceremonies celebrated by Indians, I think Sadangu is really irrelevant. Especially, celebrating on such a large scale. It really isn’t necessary,” she stated.
Meanwhile her mother, Geetha, who works as a nurse in a local hospital, opposes this statement.
“These type of ceremonies and traditions has to be carried on, if not the value of our heritage will disappear with the modern society,” said Geetha.
Although Nivitha seems against the idea of ever having a Sadangu ceremony for her daughter, should she have one in the future, she admitted that she would still conduct one.
“But I will make sure to invite only me and my future husband’s family to the ceremony. I wouldn’t want something so extravagant like mine which was just a loss of money and resources,” she declared.
“Even though I thought the whole ceremony was humiliating, I realised that these are the simple things that keeps our culture growing. Therefore, I think we should not stop celebrating events like his,” Nivitha finished.