INDIAN MARRIAGES: The girl that goes away…The Desi Istyle (Part-3)
So the dancing, stumbling and firing baarat arrives on the duar of the hosts and is honors are done with the high pitched gaalis. The people in the baarat get seated, are served with the Naashtaa boxes (which the children of the house made). The marriage process finally begins with a ritual called the Dwarpooja. I don’t know what exactly is done in it, but it’s the first public appearance of the groom and so, it is very important step. Meanwhile, the baraatis are diverted towards the dinner. Generally, in villages, the guests are served with food on tables, being seated on chairs and the food is served by the members of the family and other helping hands from the village itself. Earlier, people sat on mats on the ground in a line, called the Paant, and food was served in Pattals made of leaves. Even now, that tradition is followed in some core rituals. The beauty of the table and chair system lies in the fact that it gives a real meaning of hosting, where the hosts themselves serve the food in the plates of the guests. Every here and there,there are scenes in which the guest is denying and the host is forcefully serving food in his plate…” Are lihal jaaw Maharaj…!” The elders keep a sharp vigil lest someone’s plate goes empty and he has to ask for more of the finished item. As soon as they spot someone with empty plate or plate deficient in some dishes, they immediately rush those dishes to that man. No one has to fight for a place in the line and no one has to ask for more, unlike today’s buffet system where we have to go with the same smudged plate again and again to the food counters and ask for more or serve ourselves with the same dirty hands.
But most exciting phase of the dinner comes when the Pundits are fed. The Bhumihars of Mithilanchal of Bihar do it in most grand way. The pundits are seated in a row and are first served with Dahi ( curd) and Chuda (chiwda/ poha). The chuda is soaked in milk before being served. The Pundits, on their heap of chuda, make a crater in which dahi is filled and then they are served with sugar or Gud, as demanded. Now, the elders of both the sides sit together to enjoy the show. The pundits of this region have legendary appetites. They eat three to four serves of dahi- chuda. And now the game begins…the Rasgullahs are brought in, in buckets, hundreds of them. Each pundit eats 20-30 Rasgullahs. After this, one or two of them quit, unable to eat more. Now, a prize money is kept on the Rasgulaahs…say Rs 5 for each rasgullah being eaten. The second phase begins. Each of them eats until two or three more quit. The prize money increases…say Rs 50 for each Rasgullah. Third phase begins and now the ones who have eaten upto their maximum limits, fall on ground. In the end, one or two of the pundits remain and the prize money goes as high as Rs 1000 per Rasgullah. The last surviving pundit, who eats the last rasgullah, is the winner….and normally, he is unable to walk, or even sit or roll on the ground. He has to be carried away by his chelas.
The baraatis, with their tummies full, are sent to the Janwasa. Now here, the stage is set for the show of Orchestra. When is say orchestra, don’t mistake it with all those clarinets and drums and violas….in our region orchestra means something else. It includes dancers, female, who dance on the recorded songs. Both the varieties of dances are available…as late as the people from both the families are present, the dancers stick to old Hindi Muzra numbers, famous ones being ‘Salaam E Ishq’ and ‘ Dekh ke mera aisa husn o shabaab’, but at the night darkens and alcohol spreads its sway, the songs change to the Bhojpuri ones, those which indicate meanings . Demands for dances are made on some particular songs and often, fights erupt if the demands differ among the two groups or villages. Some villages are notorious for their fighting spirit…they believe that until and unless there is a fight in a wedding, the wedding is not complete. So they create a fight scene where ever they go… and take immense pride in doing so.
Meanwhile, inside the bride’s home, the marriage procedure goes on. Now the gaalis change into emotional wedding songs. There is a song for every ritual, and singing never stops in the background. As the night moves on, the mood of the songs changes from jubilant to a tense one and when the ritual of Kanyadaan comes, the songs, both in lyrics, tones and sentiments turn into morbid songs of parting, the women singing and shedding for the daughter they are going to part with. Kanyadaan, in tradition, is considered most sacred act of giving, or Daan, of the world, in which a father gives away his beloved daughter to a world unknown to her. Its like giving a piece of one’s own heart away. Every one present cries, the bride, her mother, her father, the women, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters … just everyone. I have seen hearts which I thought to be made of stone melt on this particular point of time. These tears wont stop for a few day…
Slowly, the night turns into morning, and the silent sobs turn into wails… ones which give the feeling that someone is clinching on the heart from within. The bride has to leave her home forever. The place which was her home only a day ago now stands alien to her. People say that women are more emotional than men. I don’t believe so. In our society, the men are bound to remain strong, they are not allowed to cry, to wail. Had there been social allowance to shed tears, no one could stop those being shed from eyes of the father whose little daughter is being taken away from him. The girl clinches his hands, clothes…every other thing she can, but his tough hands push her away, to make her go… for he is not allowed to cry, he is a man. Not every one can survive this heart breaking scene…in fact, no one.The girl’s mother is not allowed to come to the vidaai…she has to wail sitting in the mandap only, not allowed to see her daughter who is going away from her…no ritual could ever be so hard.
Finally, the crying, stumbling and fainting bride goes with her husband, to a whole new world, leaving tears in everyone’s eyes… people who have loved her, who have seen her grow up.
These were some traditions and customs of our region. Some are sweet, some sour and some are naughty. Generally, only the arranged marriages have the luxury of such fun and celebrations. Love marriages, especially the enter-caste ones, have not yet got much social acceptance and thus, as few as they are, they go unattended and uncelebrated largely. The boys and girls themselves don’t want to hurt the sentiments of their parents, elders and the society and prefer arranged marriages… and the main reasoning behind it is that parents will never choose something wrong for his children. The statement is true to a large extent, but at times, is little bit faulty too. But now a day, some changes are there to be seen. Indeed, our society needs to open up to new ideas…but at the same time, we need to protect our customs and traditions.