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  • Writer's pictureMira Balachandran

ART OF SERVING: LEAF SERVICE IN WEDDINGS

The practice of serving food on banana leaves to guests at weddings is very unique to India and more so South India. The Vazhai Ilai Sapaadu with its elaborate spread, served by the wedding caterer at weddings {or other life events) is considered very sacred, as a way of honouring the guests who are present to bless the couple.

The host deems it as his duty to ensure that the guests are seated comfortably and served food with due respect. Hence the onus of responsibility of making the guests happy after a sumptuous wedding meal falls on the wedding caterer. As a representative of the host in the dining hall, the wedding caterer must ensure that the food is served in the right order, quality, quantity and temperature


The service people contracted by the wedding caterer should be well versed in the art of serving wedding food. Various communities have various practices. It is essential to educate the service people on such nuances which have deep rooted connotations to members of the community vazhai Ilai and it is mandatory that sweet dish is to be served first and pickles last. In Iyengar weddings a small slice of banana dipped in sugar has to be served first. In certain tamizh communities like Mudaliars a little bit of salt has to be served on the vazhai ilai. Not doing so could tantamount to disrespecting the guests.

The wedding caterer has to ensure that his / her team is fully aware of the items in the menu and the ingredients that go into it in the first place. This is very important because guests could be allergic or may have given up on some ingredients and hence when they need clarity they should be answered in the right manner.

The guests should be made to feel welcome to have the wedding food and so the wedding caterer has to greet the guests in a manner befitting the occasion. In fact, a professional wedding caterer must ensure that all details are perfect right from the size of the banana leaf to the hygiene factor ensuring it is clean.

Dishes have to be served in the right portions without spillage. Another important factor of hygiene is the serving spoon should not touch the surface of the banana leaf when a dish is served. All service personnel should wear hand gloves, mask and cap and be presentable in proper outfits.

Service people and the supervising team have to be attentive to the needs of the guests and re – serves dishes when requested. The holistic dining experience of the guests should be as pleasant as possible. A happy guest in turn will remember the good food and great service for a lifetime.

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