Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Our Story-II

Let’s continue with the most important day (She calls it D-day, don’t know why?):

30th Jan

This day at my place started with some in-house beautification. People from both the Paternal and Maternal sides – grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins were present and the young ones were particularly excited for too many reasons. One of them is this ceremony where turmeric mixed with gram flour is applied on the feet, hands and face after which curd is poured on the hair. Applying the yellow concoction is restricted to the aunts. However, everyone as in both the old and the young ones, get the opportunity to pour curd on the hair.   Here are two snapshots – one of the ceremony at my place and one at His.

Curd Massage

Symbolic Massage

Notice the stark difference in the two photographs? Yes, while She was getting curd poured over her head, I was making sure no one did anything funny to my hair. Even then, someone put a few drops in and when I ‘threatened’ to stage a walk-out, no one else bothered touching that bowl anymore. Smile

Some interesting facts connected to this small event. The clothes worn during this time are to be given to the assistant who is wiping curd and paste off of the face, hands and feet. At the end, you are asked to change clothes and wear new ones of a specific colour. [I only ‘half-complied’. –D] These coloured ones come from two places: Mother’s house and the in-law’s house. [The second place is true only for Her.] So, after getting into this specific attire, I was asked to sit before my hand impressions in mehndi and turmeric (as shown in the photo below) and made to wear red and white bangles. They are supposed to be kept for 1.25 months and at the end of that time period, they should be saved for wearing during important events in the future.

Hand Impressions

After I got into my attire, someone (I later found out he was one of the drivers) came to fit the head-gear (saafa) on my head. It was an ordeal to say the least because that thing is wrapped around too tight around the head and I was supposed to wear it till the next day when I’d come back from SDSR! Obviously, that was not going to happen as you’ll read later. Anyway, long story short, I put on a pseudo-wedding dress brought by my brother-in-law that made everyone (including me… and it seems She was shocked but pleasantly surprised) happy [I was planning to wear a normal suit, which made everyone (excluding me) sad.] and left for SDSR around 3PM after a light lunch.

Got Ready

I was then set free after the morning’s messy ritual for the next couple of hours. Free as in, given time for socializing. Almost everyone asked me the colour of the dress I would be wearing in the evening. They didn’t stop at that; I was also supposed to let them know as to what He would be wearing in the evening, from where is it purchased, does it resemble someone else’s, what are the additional accessories with it, etc. And as we know by now whatever I told them turned out to be completely wrong because he didn’t keep his word of wearing a suit! Sad smile

As I was roaming around the house answering such questions, there came a call that we are running late and I’m to start getting ready for the evening. I have a private room but that didn’t remain private during these days. People kept flocking in and checking my status of ‘getting ready’ and comments / advices / opinions / suggestions (whatever you want to call them) flowed freely. On top of that, I was asked to follow as many orders as possible or rather, as much as I could hear.

While She was getting ready, I was ready and in a car travelling from SDGH to SDSR with my Didi & Jijaji (elder sister & b-i-l). (The first thing I did when we got to SDGH outskirts was to take the saafa off of my head.) Here they briefed me about what all customs & rituals are awaiting me and also what all pranks Her family members will play on me and advised me how to avoid them. I listened to them and told them: I’ll decide as & when needed whether to follow their advice or not. We reached SDSR (around 5PM) and I had to put the saafa back on my head for a minor custom at the entrance of Her house. (My right ear started aching pretty bad after this and it didn’t feel right for the next 2 days.) We were then taken to a hotel booked for this occasion. The only friend who could make it to our wedding (that ‘only’ includes both of us… none of Her friends could show up) reached SDSR before me and we both laughed at each other’s get-up for being on completely opposite ends of the sartorial spectrum!

Shantanu, Me

Back to my side: After I was ready I was made to worship the Gods and Goddesses in the house and then asked to sit in one corner of the house till some other rituals were performed. He and people accompanying him were served high tea (I still wonder why this name when tea is just one item of the too many in the list).

High Tea

Around 8PM, we moved out of the hotel and started walking towards Her house. A small ritual was performed at a pseudo-crossroad (Think about this seriously. The road was completely blocked for traffic during those ~15 minutes. I guess such things can happen only in an Indian village!) just before our final destination and then we were allowed to move further. We reached at their door and a small pedestal / stool was put there for me to stand. And Jijaji asked me to take out a handkerchief…

I’m aware of some of the the rituals that are performed when the Groom arrives at the Bride’s house. Let me highlight some of them. A few senior ladies [Her aunts] put kumkum on His forehead and try to pull his nose Smile. He was supposed to save his nose by using a handkerchief and the aunts standing there kept wondering as to why he did nothing to save his nose. And yes, He did nothing even after taking out a handkerchief… I guess so that it could get over as soon as possible. After that, a custom is performed with a scarf kind of a thing where my aunts try to make him fall off the pedestal and his companions try to save him. But after the pulling-nose-thingy, I guess nobody was enthusiastic anymore so the scarf was put around his waist, tugged slightly and removed, just like that!

Caressed, Adored

After all that, I was called outside to face him and both of us were handed a garland each, which were not made of flowers [They had sandalwood, most probably]. The bride is asked first to garland the groom’s neck and people (in general) lift the groom so that it becomes difficult for the bride to do the job. But it did not happen that way in our case. He was courteous enough to bend his neck and I was stunned enough to garland him while smiling a little too much. He repeated the same over my bent neck. A photograph showing the same. [She bending Her neck doesn’t affect much. But what I don’t understand is why would Her family be so ‘cruel’ to not give her own pedestal? Winking smile]

Garland Exchange-I

We were then asked to walk together towards the place where the main ritual was to be performed. In the mid-way, another small ritual reared its ridiculous head. One of my Maternal uncles was to lift me up and orbit around Him. He was again made to stand on the pedestal. I was asked to pick up some rose petals at the start of the orbit and throw them right at His face as the orbit ended. After 4 such orbits and people clapping their hands, I felt that He was feeling on top of the world. He was definitely smiling a lot. [That was because of this being such a ridiculous practice! Her uncle was staggering in the 3rd orbit and almost collided with me in the 4th orbit. She herself warned him that she’s not as light as she looks, on top of which, she’s wearing a 10Kg dress! Open-mouthed smile]

Petal Shower

I was put back on the ground and one of the triangular pieces tied to his saafa was then tied to my head. So funny it was to realize later that something was tied to one of my legs at the same time too. I was too pre-occupied that I failed to notice the thread that was tied to my right leg till He was asked to untie it using only one hand the next day. But that is another story in itself and you can imagine what he would have done! Winking smile Anyway, here we were asked to garland each other again and this time the one with flowers were used:

Garland Exchange-II

We finally got to the place where a fire was arranged for taking the marriage vows and the Priest to recite the mantras. My uncle (father’s immediate elder brother) and his wife sat opposite to us and were the ones who performed the ‘kanyadaan’ (‘to send off the bride’). The chants started and I was given something [a silver coin and a ball of mehndi] on my right hand. He was asked to place His right hand on top of mine and our hands were tied with a long, pink scarf.

Tangled up

Tied Hands

There were more mantras, more chants and we walked around the fire four times, after which He filled sindoor (vermillion) in the mid-partition of my head. This is when we were pronounced ‘Married’ I guess [at ~10PM].

Filling Sindoor

Family members came to wish us at that point and showered their blessings. The knot around our hands was removed after this and I was asked to keep that long, pink scarf with me all the time till we reached SDGH. Then, we were asked to remove our shoes to pray before the hand impressions (shown above). All my sisters [incl. cousins] (I’m happy that at least all of them were present during the wedding) took that opportunity to hide His shoes and then demanded some cash from Him in case He wanted them back. When He handed them a box of chocolates and few packets of chewing gums, everyone started laughing their hearts out. [I haven't seen or heard any sister being gifted such items and frankly, was happily amused.] However, He didn't like (it was visible from his face) the incessant cash demand my sisters were making but His b-i-l did shell out some cash (more than He agreed to) at the end on His behalf. I personally think that this is the only occasion when the sisters get an opportunity to ask for things from their b-i-l and so I'm happy that their demands were fulfilled [though not as smoothly as they would have expected!].

After that, we went to have dinner, which was arranged in a guest house just opposite to our house. Dinner, of course, had to start with sweets:

Sharing Sweets

We came back to the house having finished dinner and after a few more photographs and small talks, we were left alone to rest [around 12AM]. Since we had to leave SDSR around 4AM, we couldn’t rest much and instead, spent most of the time talking and laughing about all the idiosyncratic rituals that had transpired during the last few days.

31st Jan

We made our way to SDGH in the early morning and people were there to welcome us. There was this ritual where He was supposed to move the plates sideways and I was supposed to lift them up without making any noise. He was moving them so far away and when asked by one of his aunts, He said, ‘Let her do some work’! Winking smile [Hey, I didn’t do it intentionally! And that’s what Jijaji said after which I realized I’d fallen in their trap. That’s why I didn’t move the remaining 2-3 plates with that much force.]

Flinging Plates

After this,  we were made to sit before the hand impressions at his place. I was asked to un-tie knots in the threads around his wrists. And He was asked to untie the one around my leg. For now, the ‘home-coming’ rituals were over and He slept. He Slept, Just Like That and nobody told Him anything. Well, I didn’t have such luck as I prepared for more customs.

There was a small ceremony where I touched His family members’ feet and they gave me gifts (again Smile) and blessings. The young ones (His cousins and nephews) sat on my lap, I pulled their ears and gave them gifts in return. A funny picture where I’m doing that:

Ear Pulling

His youngest nephew sat on my lap too and I like this picture very much. [Though, he seems to be pretty bored!]

Cute People

He was sleeping while I was doing all the above and around lunch-time, He was woken up to pour ghee on the food in my plate. He went straight back to sleep in another room. How much can this guy sleep, man? [Jet-lag, man!]

Pouring Ghee

We went back to SDSR in the evening to get blessings at my parents’ and maternal family’s house. We visited a couple of temples while we were there:

Behind Bars

One really important thing we accomplished while there was to complete all formalities for getting a Marriage Certificate. The Marriage Registrar came to collect our signatures, thumb prints, face identification, etc. needed for the certificate at our house. A couple of hours later, he handed over the certificate to my father. Thankfully, without any spelling mistakes! But by then, we were already headed towards SDGH.

Let’s continue on to the ‘last’ part of this hexology and see how it all ends:

Part III