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Monday, October 13, 2014

Our Wedding!

It was 7:45 am. As I glanced at the clock near the wall of my dressing table and then into my own reflection in the mirror, I nervously took empty gulps a couple of times. ‘You do not look good enough for a bride yet’, said my reflection and I was supposed to be at the Gurudwara about a good 15 minutes ago! It was one-of-the-life-time events and I was already running late. My would-be husband was already there waiting for me, probably feeling as nervous as he could be before getting married in an unknown surrounding.
The pressure had started building around me from early morning when my relatives hadn’t turned for a ceremony (haldi and vatna) and my mom had ended up doing that for me alone! Though I loved it since it was such a loving moment when your Mom rubbed haldi on you; it reminded me of my childhood!
Further, the ‘chura ceremony’ in the morning had taken a little longer than I had expected since the bangles needed to be set in order by someone who had handled those a very few times in his life before. As my Mamaji got instructions from my Mamiji, my cousin and sister-in-law, he looked confused- increasing my frustration inside since I was running out of time. I had just had bath, and was yet to get ready for the biggest event in my life; getting married to someone I had been waiting to tie the knot to for the past two years, amidst a lot of persuasions. 
Finally after a lot of permutations and combinations, with still unsatisfied noises from the background, we completed my ‘chura ceremony’ and believe me I was perfectly happy with its look on my hands-shining maroon and white combination of bangles with a lot of crystals on it! I had bled a little bit from side of one hand, since the rough plastic bangles had cut into my hand while wearing but the sheer beauty of them made me forget my pain. As my husband now rightly teases me that I got a full-fledged wedding done for the love of the ‘chura’ when we were otherwise ready for a simple ‘court marriage’ ceremony! Well, all brides have their own versions of madness and this was my own!    
As I was putting final touches to my make-up and setting my duppatta, I saw the reflection of my Mom in the mirror. She looked so perfectly beautiful in her light pink suit with minimal make up, all set up gracefully for the occasion-to get her daughter married in another few hours! I wore a little deeper color of pink than hers as she had suggested, ‘A brighter color would look better in the wedding pictures’ and you bet it sure did! As the relatives slowly started dropping into the room, I lost my peace and decided to just finish off with a final touch of kajal in my eyes. I was a bride ready in just 20 minutes-all by myself. I wonder why I didn’t opt to go to any beauty parlor to get dressed for my special occasion; ‘Parlors don’t open so early in Ambala’ was my reply to all who wondered about the same. But I know the truth was much deeper than that. I had seen and read so much about the grandness of the weddings and craziness of brides in parlors that I wanted to keep myself away from all that fanfare. For the special day of my life, I wanted to dress myself in what I would define as ‘Keeping in my own character’ which I definitely like, than to step into someone I would not be able to recognize later on in the wedding pictures! I turned out to be the most simplistic bride that my relatives could imagine! There was just one more thing that was left! 
My sisters and sister-in-law were supposed to tie me ‘Kalire’ on my chura which turned out to be true joy to me. Apart from the ones brought from the market, a special one were hand-made by my Grandmother for me with big dried coconuts beautifully decorated for the occasion. They looked so very unique and definitely made my day! I have hung them near my bed-side since after the wedding as they remind me of her love every single moment showing the effort she had undergone to make them.
My school and graduation friends had finally made it to the wedding which doubled my happiness; seeing them after many years and more so at one of the most important events of my life! As I entered the Gurudwara and caught a glimpse of my would-be husband, we both went into the spiral of how we had ended up here-starting right from being debaters of everything around us a couple of years back; of course marriage too includes a lot of debates day in and day out! The beauty and simplicity of the ceremony in the Gurudwara (literally in our front yard) where all of my dearest people were present including my old grand-parents (who were a primary reason as why this ceremony was conducted apart from my love for chura; they didn’t believe court marriage was a true marriage!). The marriage ceremony was conducted by the old familiar bhaiji at the Gurudwara who told me, ‘I have seen you since you were not even one year old’ and then blessed us!
Earlier, we had been apprehensive about the two families coming together but it was perfectly woven together in a single thread- with love. All of my ‘new’ family seemed super excited and beaming after the wedding in the Punjabi style. My youngest new sister-in-law gushed at me and said looking at my kalire, “Wow! I had seen these in the hands of actress Karishma Kapoor in her wedding, they look superb!” She is surely a complete movie buff and a cute one at that, keeping her charm with two kids at her side now! We had our touch-ups of Punjabi style with ‘paranda’ and ‘punjabi jutti’ for me and a bright red turban and cream sherwani for my hubby!
Post the Gurudwara wedding, I did the tradition of breaking the ‘kalire’ over the head of my friends (unmarried ones) so as to hasten her wedding. But it was something which could break her head as one of the big dried coconut fell on her; bringing huge laughs from the onlookers! Thankfully she survived the tradition to someday get married on her own! 
We then came back to my grand-parent’s home in order to pay a ‘ritualistic farewell’ to them. Believe me, it was nothing like the usual ‘vidai’ where a sad song plays in the background and people break down crying everywhere! I wanted to break down that image of a vidai; after all it is not that I would never come there again! I wasn’t the one who was given away- we daughters are not commodities to be given or taken away, I believe so! I was a bride who smilingly bade a farewell to all. 

We both being majorly non-religious enjoyed the ceremony, not as a mark of any traditional following but as a way of bringing two families together with harmony and bringing to light the truth that ‘not always’ a patriarchial way of life is followed in a society like ours! I am so glad our lives began with prayers and blessings of our elders rather than any kind of malice. When life becomes an adventure, new experiences bring awe; and that’s what our wedding surely was! An adventure in today’s world; cutting across race, region, class, religion and caste- a superb example of two families with pure hearts coming together for a beautiful beginning for both of us!          

Sweet Memoirs!

A small something I wrote 'before' my wedding day!
What does it mean to be a bride? She’s beautiful, she’s young and she’s about to take the most important step of her life! She is going to transform from a girl next-door to someone who holds the knits of two families together! An Indian bride symbolizes the culture and traditions being followed since a long time. Weddings customs differ from region to region in India but there are some things which are common to weddings! Most Indian cultures infuse their wedding ceremonies with extravagant parties and rituals, including special attire and adornments for the bride.
She’s dressed in red, loaded with ornaments and bathed in fragrances; but there’s more to a bride than her make up or attire on her wedding day! It’s the happiness and expectations for her new life which make her glow with an angelic hallow! Perhaps I would radiate the same in a few more days!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Some unique seasons...............

When we were in kinder garden we knew only three seasons; Summer, Winter and Rainy (incidentally we also had breaks for only these, so they were easy to remember!) Increase in our grades increased the number of seasons too; they then became- Summer, Winter, Rainy, Autumn and Spring. And today that concept has yet again changed for me.
Working in public health sphere in Bihar for the past 4 years, I have understood one thing; there are many other seasons to take into account if you wish to understand things in a concrete manner. As you interact with staff in Labour room in the Primary Health Centres, they would tell you all about it. ‘Abhi to khali hai madam bed, par jab season hota hai na toh ek bed pe do do log hote hain’, said one ANM to me during one of the field visit (Right now the bed is empty but when the season comes, there are two people on one bed). A season when the deliveries increase in number and there are not enough beds for them and they are sent back home after the ‘check’ is issued to them. This was all about delivery clients! I wonder how couples plan to have children all in the same season- Is the season that romantic or maybe conception of a child has nothing to do with romance; I am yet to find out!
Next famous season in public health is the season of family planning. All round the year, numbers would be sagging, unable to reach the targets (Yes, target approach still exists at least at the lowest of levels) but when the season comes; it is like a rush to cut the tubes! This is the season for female sterilization or family planning season per say. A popular belief is that a wound heals in winter easily whereas exactly opposite of it is true as per medical knowledge. Also, I do wonder, why doesn’t season for male sterilization ever come in India? After all male sterilization is an easier and more rewarding option for couples who receive Rs 600 for female sterilization and Rs 1000 for male sterilization! But masculinity come into play here- after all males are so precious in India that families keep on having children (girl children) till they have a count of two male children- one for buffer in case other doesn’t survive! How can they every think of male sterilization then?
Another season which makes males in Indian society very valuable is ‘The marriage season’. They actually get pretty expensive in Bihar in this season! I wonder whether boys are made to study and get a job principally for this season where price tags are put on them. The auctions are put up according to their caste, education and job with bidding starting from 15 lacs one, 15 lacs two, 15 lacs three- Sold!
Then there is the festival season here, particularly in the months of October and November where every second day is some festival and it’s a reason for Government offices to shut down. ‘Diwali aur chatt ke baad hi sahib kuch kaam ho payega, abhi to sab chute main hai’, laments the clerk in Government office. (Any work will only happen after Diwali and Chatt festival, right now everyone is on leave). Non-residents of Bihar make sure to gather during Chatt to observe the two-day fast (mostly by women) thanking the Sun god for all the life on Earth. And the one who gives birth on this Earth is made to fast for it; weird isn’t it?
A popular season which quickly turns into an epidemic is ‘cricket season’ which just concluded with IPL matches! The symptoms of this fever include buying huge number of chips packets and soft drinks (Pepsi and Coke being favorites) and constant sitting in front of the TV with littering around. Beware! This season can make your boyfriend trick you into watching a match in Dominos; who otherwise likes ‘Indian’ food only!  
But there is a universal season which has no time or place. It brings all the other seasons to a halt, paralyses the system in all manners possible and hurts you till the core- the season of Politics. With the conclusion of Lok Sabha elections, and change in power, it is important to see what fauna and flora this season would bring till the season returns with a bang!