Friday, July 13, 2012

Wedding Days- II



The news was broken by Nani while we were in Puri for the Rathyatra that she had finally liked a girl's photograph, visited her family and liked them all and her family were coming the next day to see the groom and his family. This was pleasant news considering the number of prospective Mamis Nani had rejected. Since I had just come from Delhi, I didn't return home with my family and went to Nani's instead. I arrived an hour before the to-be-bride's uncle, brother-in-law and father visited and thence began the memorable 'wedding days'.

PRE-WEDDING RITUALS
It was a Friday. The ‘Nirbandha’ or engagement was fixed for the Sunday and ‘Bahaghara’ or wedding for the next Sunday. The Chaturthi or day of consummation as well as reception was to be on Wednesday. The date fixed for reception was supposedly the last holy day for marriage for those in my Mamaji's zodiac in the first half of the year and thus the hurry.

Two ceremonies take place before the engagement, one at the groom's place and the other at the bride's place which both took place on Sunday. And in one such ceremony, the one in the bride's place, called 'Bohu Sweekar', my Mamaji got to see his to-be-wife for the first time. Thankfully, he liked her, as he later told me sheepishly.  It was a totally filmy arranged marriage, one without discussions between the guy and the girl, replete with sharing anecdotes and family connections among the family members. After the ‘Bara Sweekar’ at my Nani’s place, we all moved to a Shiv temple for the engagement. To my horror, I realised that the engagement didn't require the presence of the bride or the groom! Rings were exchanged, with their covers of course, by the fathers and also exchanged were 2 suitcases. We presented one for Mami and received from their side one for Mamaji that was sort of a large men's-grooming-kit. The program ended with a hearty dinner.

Relatives started streaming in from Monday. Among them were nosy ones hell bent on making me learn cooking. I learnt soon enough that it wasn't as odious a task as I had imagined it to be. As it is, my Nani was always out distributing 'gua' (a fruit that is given in addition to a wedding card to close relatives) and my Mom wasn't there to protect me. Mom arrived late on Wednesday as did all my Masis  and the preparations got much needed direction. Frantic faces, people running helter-skelter, relatives hitherto unknown surfacing with their family and relatives all made it a chaotic place and the introvert in me was initially overwhelmed by the overload of stimulation but I gradually caught up with the joviality, and for the first time in my life, didn't mind being in a 'crowd'. 

Every day there was some or the other ceremony. The first one was done before the invitation cards or ‘Nimantrana Patra’ could be sent and the entire day was spent by me folding the cards and stuffing them into envelopes. The first 3 cards were for deities and the rest were distributed among my Nanaji, Nani and Mamaji who had each their own lists. What I found amusing was in each one of the ceremonies or rituals, the local barber's wife, called 'Barikiani' had the most important role to play.

On the day before the wedding was the “mangalakrutya’ in which 7 married women led by the Barikiani started towards the temple of the “Grama Devati’ to offer her saree, vermilion, bangles etc. in which the bridegroom's Mami was to do the offerings and while returning took water from 7 homes in the way in an earthen pot which was later used to bathe the bridegroom.
Now this bathing was the ritual I enjoyed the most for all 4 sisters of my Mamaji along with some other women had lots of fun plastering turmeric paste all over his face and limbs before the bath. He repeatedly entreated them to do it one by one and not to attack him together but to no avail. The bathing was to be done without letting go of a piece of the broken earthen pot that had carried the water kept under the feet of Mamaji. And no, he was not allowed to go to bathroom rather it was the well from which water was drawn and Mamaji bathed in the full view of monkeys and birds on the various trees of the garden. After he came out, he was carried by his Mamiji(yes, seriously) to the 1st floor (no doubt a terribly difficult task) and then proceeded rituals of applying ‘Alata’ or a red liquid to the feet and kohl to the eyes etc. which made Mamaji appear like a sacrificial goat. Add to all this the prospect of going without food the whole day, till the wee hours the next morning, I did pity the bridegroom LOL.

The bridegroom's brother plays 'Markandi' and is dressed just like the Bridegroom. He stays by the side of the bridegroom till the main marriage rituals begin and is accorded special treatment by the bride's family. Since my Mamaji has no brother and all his cousins are too old to play 'Markandi' it was my brother, his nephew, who got lucky. The 'Barajatri' or Baraat started for the bride's place after an hour of rituals in the presence of the whole Barajatri at 9 O' clock sharp and amidst great pomp arrive the bride's place between 1:30 a.m. to 2. 

The groom was carried by the bride's maternal uncle (yes, from the gate to a room on the 1st floor!) amidst cheers and giggles after a short tilak ceremony. 

We kids rushed to see the sleepy bride struggling to keep awake and smile, and after a few greetings and photographs went to have the long awaited dinner. The main wedding rituals were to start in an hour. Since I don't have the permission to release my Mami's photographs on the web, I edited it and made a pencil sketch out of her photograph. 


Wedding Days-I can be read here.
Continue reading- Wedding Days- III

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