There was a certain panic in the eyes of Devanshu- the groom, the epic, the hero of this story.
“Dude! Have u seen my Sherwaani-Pyjamas? I cannot find it anywhere. Please do something”
Sherwaani is a gown which groom wears during the Baraatin North India. The subject in question above is the bottom of Sherwaani, the Linen Pyjama.
Flash back a few hours, same day, the D-day, the day of wedding.
Time: 11 A.M
Activity: Having Breakfast
Devanshu to me –“ Dude I think the Barat should be able to start at 3 PM. Worse case 4 PM, what’s your take?”
Myself –“ Have u gone total Bonkers? Are u not aware of the ladies in our house? Eleventh hour and someone’s lipstick/bangle/Saree/shoes/kids will go missing. Take a bet we are going to start before 6 PM”
To give a rough idea, the Barat was supposed to travel for 50 kms (30 miles) from city of Ranchi to city of Ramgarh. It was at least 2 hours journey taking traffic into consideration.After reaching, they were supposed to freshen up before the crowd starts their major activity of Barat Procession- The Dance.
Time: 3 P.M
Activity: Having Lunch
I to Devanshu – “So dude what’s your take? We were supposed to start at 3 PM, see what are we upto?. The ladies have not yet started to have Lunch forget about getting ready”
Devanshu –“ Looks like my marriage is going to get into deep soup”
Time: 5 P.M
Activity: I was working on a Music video for this wedding. Trying to make the elderly women dance.
Devanshu comes running and screams, “Dude have u seen my Sherwaani-Pyjamas? I cannot find it anywhere. Please do something.”
I was engrossed in movie making, in no mood to volunteer help. “Go and search dude, it might be somewhere around”.
Devanshu – “Dude, no its not. I think I have left it at the shop 4 months back when I bought it.”
I went to his bedroom to find out 4 old linen Pyjamas lying on the bed and Devanshu’s mom and sister trying to get the best match.
This was indeed a situation to panic given that the Barat was going to start in few hours(maybe).
After a dozen requests I became ready to go get his Pyjamas from that shop. Devanshu called up the chauffer and arranged the biggest of 20-30 odd cars to solve the maze of cramped Main Road, Ranchi and reach ‘Kashmir Vastralaya Collections’.
By the way, he got me the most ambitious vehicle on Indian roads, The Mahindra Scorpio.
After closing this chapter of Pyjamas, the groom finally managed to get ready and the Barat left Ranchi at 8 PM (against planned 3 PM).
I will continue the Wedding story later, and concentrate on the other rituals and proceedings which took place before D-Day.
Our hero in question, the epic of this story – Devanshu.
Flashback – The Tilak Program.
Tilak in Bihar is a ritual when the Bride’sparent uploads maximum households, cash, jewelry and all other items perceived as dowry to the groom. This ritual is done in a highly sophisticated way.
There were no demand from the groom side in this case, thus the gifting was rather a formality done by the bride’s parent.
Being a cousin of groom and the candid photographer, I had access to every people and place. With that I had the privilege to eavesdrop gossips. FYI gossips have an irreplaceable position in Indian weddings. At a high level the gossips hover around guesswork of dowry the groom is getting, the legacy that comes with the bride, whether bride’s siblings have eloped with someone, the amount of gold exchanged etc.
Sometimes I overheard gossips about myself as well such as ‘This guy remained short like his dad, poor fellow” etc. Things I never wanted to hear.
Our hero, the groom, like I said is choosy in virtually everything. This guy had planned different clothes for different rituals. Unfortunately this plan was not revealed to everyone except me since this may embarrass him.
There was once when one of the ritual got over and Devanshu started to get restless. Everyone noticed that and I as planned went to check out the gossips.
One of our aunts said to other worriedly, “ Seems Rinku did not relieve himself in the morning, he wants to use the rest room maybe”. This I could not control and burst into laughter since I knew that this guy Rinku (aka Devanshu) was restless for one and only reason- He wants to change his clothes.
Somehow, with some lame excuses and this guy was able to escape the stage for changing.
Here are some images when our hero ‘created’ an opportunity to change.
The guy was ready to rock and roll after changing
Hours passed, rituals after rituals and we started to get tired, but still not so `tired since we were waiting for next day for sangeet (Festival of Music).
During the Tilak:
As always spreading happiness, My Mamiji (wife of maternal uncle) and Rinku’s mom.
Jiju (Brother in Law as in sister’s husband)
Shadow of her mom- Pinky (Sister of Rinku)
Fun all around
Ready colors for rituals.
With Doll-like cousin Dolly
Flashback- The Sangeet Program and Mehendi:
On the day of Sangeet there was an arrangement for Mehendi (Henna), which was a major attraction among non-participants since they were the non-rehearsal lots. Women lined up in queue to give hard time to the vendors.
Few image from Mehendi.
Our Hero too did not miss the chance. He raced with the women to get it done first.
We wanted to do things differently for this wedding and started to plan a couple of months early.
We told all the close relatives to make a footage talking about Rinku. We collated all the videos into one and showed it on the Sangeet day.
Many people prepared for different items such as mono act, dance, song etc. And the best show was from the one and only- Our Hero.
‘Contemporary’ is what he said when I asked him about the genre he was going to perform. So I knew he is going to perform a bouncer dance, bouncer because it will be a bouncer for everyone to understand. I was ready with my camera to capture any flop show for later fun.
Since our Hero was ‘THE HERO’ he did not miss an opportunity to prove that. He kept his slot at last and made every tom, dick and harry perform before he does.
I was one of the Toms there.
I am a fresher when it comes to guitar, and am still learning some nifty grifties. My niece was kind enough to sing for me, but it was hard to get applause, rather I ended up getting booes.
When my name was called,, I thought to do things differently like a 30 years old Justin bieber or 16 year old Bryan Adams. That is, take the guitar, get on stage in style, come down and walk through the aisle singing in tunes.
I did that, pulled up various uncles to sing ‘Intehaan ho gayi Intezaar ki’, a famous hit by Kishore Kumar. The lyrics are slightly twisted and it was hard to remember the wordings. All the uncles could not sing even a line. Due to over excitement I also forgot the lyrics mid way.
I cooked up some lyrics and sang in a flow. No one understood since people were already planning to run away from me, but it was Rinku who was laughing big times. He knew that I was singing it all wrong.
So I was in a situation where I started big, but now I was waiting for my turn to get over as soon as possible. This is when my beloved daughter-like niece came to the rescue. She sang the famous ‘Saadi galli aaja (Come to my lane)’ for me when I was playing the guitar which no one could hear a thing.
My niece Simran
Then came our beloved Abhinendra uncle who was all set to prove with his better wife and our favorite Anita aunt that age does not matter, its heart, which should remain young. Before his show, Abhin uncle told me various juggling he has planned during the couple dance he will be performing with Anita aunt. Some seemed impossible when he verbally explained me. As a matter of fact all of the planned juggling ended in a malfunction. But the ballroom dance the pair performed was ‘kaabile taarif’. He collected a lot of applause for that.
Our beloved Abhin Uncle after gulping a dozen Red Bulls.
Further performances followed, some were interesting, some tolerable, some nauseating and then came the turn of our hero.
Boy, this was the first time I saw him dancing and I must say I could not close my open mouth/eyes. He was fantabulous; fortunately there were no stranger girls around or he would have been in a deep soup.
So here are the collection of our hero performing the famous ‘Contemporary’ on song ‘Tum hi Ho’ from movie Aashiqui-2.
My Niece Chhavi (meaning image) dedicated a sweet song to her Mama (maternal uncle). It was hard to resist applauding and a zillion love for her sweetness.
“Dance till you Drop” was not the Mantra.
Our Mantra was “Dance till the cops knock the doors”.
Cops came, some negotiations, and we were all set for another round of blast.
The party continued till early morning.
Jiju Danced and never dropped! .
Sangeet was exhausting, but our energy was so damn high that nothing stopped us for upcoming activities for next day. Marwaa is a ritual, which happens a day before the wedding.
During Marwaa, the main ritual is applying turmeric paste to the bride and groom.
Women chants auspicious songs which I could not understand a word. I have tried to listen, but whenever I did I get lost in the expressions those women give while singing.
During the turmeric paste ritual, the elder should put an ounce of rice on the head of groom and give him blessing. This is when that person is attacked from behind, front, left and right (sometimes from top also). People apply turmeric paste onto that person literally colouring him/her yellow. There is chaos, people running here and there trying to save themselves but there is no escape. Its real fun, and I was too caught once while performing this ritual for Rinku.
Here is how turmeric is played.
Graceful and civilized application of Turmeric on Groom’s body.
The groom is spared from the wilderness maybe because everyone has pity on him.
After all he is going to get married.
Cans and cans of turmeric were supplied which was getting over in minutes. There was a time when there was a shortage of supply, and then someone had to barge inside the kitchen to get access to kilos of turmeric meant for preparing supper.
Our juggler Abhinendra uncle was innovatively clever enough to cover his head with a plastic bag. He was thrashed with kilos of turmeric paste applied to literally every accessible and inaccessible parts of his body.
This is one of the most tiring rituals. It was hard to keep the camera safe, but I simply did not want to miss a chance. People were kind enough to spare me while I was shooting.
People dress up strategically for this ritual, but no matter what they wear, everyone has to end in yellow. It is such that even for next 2-3 days you can see yellow color beneath the shower. Not to worry, turmeric has medicinal properties and is good for skin.
There was no time to think, by that time we were home it was 2.30 AM. And the very next day was the D-Day, the current day for this blog.
Current day, the D Day, The Wedding day:
Time 6.30 PM:
Everyone was busy in hunting something or the other. Someone hunting for lipstick, some looking for their pyjamas, some lost their blouse, one of them were unable to find their kid, socks, underwears, vests, watches, makeup items, shoes, eye liners, perfume, etc. These are some of things, which commonly people will be hunting during eleventh hour in a Bihari Wedding.
Hero in the making- Our Nephew.
Finally after a lot of effort, people were ready to push their butt towards the car and ready to travel for 50 kms. Women were the worried lot since the makeup might not stand for that long, but there was no other option.
There were close to 30-40 vans full of people from groom’s side. It was fun on the way with such a huge crowd heading in one direction.
We reached the hotel of stay at 8.30 PM against planned 4.30 PM. During any wedding the groom’s friends have one major sponsored activity – Drinking. Arrangements were done for them in a different resort to avoid any post drinking ruckus, which might get witnessed by elders and everyone wanted to avoid that.
Drinking is needed since the friends are major entities who add icing on the cake when the Barat proceeds towards the Bride’s place.
Baratis a procession where the Groom will be sitting on a Horse or a decorated car and his friends and family will be dancing around. The procession has musicians who play deafening trumpet and drums, loud enough to increase your Blood Pressure three folds and the tune is flat enough to make it impossible to guess the song they are playing.
All the uncles were getting restless to start the Barat. I was trying to elongate the matter simply because the dancer ‘friends’ were busy drinking and no one was answering their phone. There was no good dancer left with us, and the Barat cannot be a real Barat if ‘friends’ are not there.
We had to start without them since I could not manage the restlessness of Uncles.
9 PM, Barat Started:
We were dancing just for formality and I was hunting for people around. No one was around except high fashioned ladies, who were extremely careful with their Saree. The stage was not getting set.
The Barat was proceeding very fast and the Bride’s place was hardly half a km from where we started. We almost reached the Bride’s house when all the bonker friends showed up.
One of them came to me saying “Bhaiya(Big brother) what is this? How a Barat can end without us dancing?”
I gave him my piece of mind since I was pissed off too.
He said, “Let’s do it again”.
So getting a Barat back to the place where it started is equivalent to making a train take a U turn. These guys went on strike and made it happen. So the Barat literally turned back, came to the same place and started to proceed this time with full of energy.
It took 1 hour to cover a distance of 500 mts.
Here are pictures of barat when people came in
Barat, as expected and by convention, was full of energy and fun and we danced till we dropped.
In Bihar the wedding happens in the night like many other North Indian States. I am still clueless why about that and I believe economics play an important role there. The number of people who can stay awake in the night is considerably low, thus making arrangement for tea/coffee/snacks is far less.
There is a ritual of giving jewellery to the bride. This ritual has to be performed by the groom’s elder brother of any kind; I mean he can be a cousin brother too. The only challenge during this ritual is the bride’s relatives will sing abuses while the proceeding goes on. The abuses, if taken literally, can make any decent person run for cover.
Guess who was the scapegoat as groom’s brother? Yeah it was yours truly this time.
To give a rough idea about the kind of abuses, the women will sing that the groom’s brother looks like a rat, have been married to a monkey, has a funny butt etc. Yeah it’s hard to spend those 10 minutes while performing the ritual.
The Bride. Remember it’s a big day for her mostly because she has the license to dress as much as she can.
It is a good omen to put an eyeliner or kajal onto groom’s eyes. Our hero as everyone knows, is a nitpicker and it was hard getting him done that. Poor guy could not stop his new mom in law doing that. Once applied, our hero started looking like a clown. I believe this is done to the groom so that he should not grab attention from other girls in the party. In addition to his funnily folded ears with malfunctioning mukut(the cap) was making him look like a money quite literally.
Rinku was highly bothered about the way he ‘might’ be looking and all these while we were lying to him saying he is looking awesome. It was much later when he saw the pictures and was on the verge of crying. He has one simple logic- ‘You marry only once’.
Finally after a lot of fun and a night out the wedding was over, and so was the uneasiness of our hero.
When the bride is leaving her place to come to the groom’s place there used to be an emotional situation. The bride will be crying with her loved ones since she is leaving her house. Little does anyone know that this is the last time she will be crying, and it will be the groom’s turn to cry for the rest of his life.
Our groom is multi cultured with his mother from Bengal and father from Bihar. Thus the ritual was kind of mixed and hybrid. The bride was welcomed at groom’s place by following both the rituals.
The bride was here and the entire clan was tired. We had another busy day lined up for next day. It was the reception.
Fast Forward, The Reception:
Reception is the time when Indian women get a golden opportunity to show off their gold mines and reason for their husband’s baldness. They will spend hours getting ready.
There used to be an inherent competition among women when it comes to the weight of gold they will be carrying on their body.
We lit up Chinese candles, which was quite cumbersome given that everyone was overly dressed. It was hard to find volunteers but with some effort we managed some.
We had an orchestra arranged on this day. The man of the day was our Jijaji (brother in law) who was dancing for the first time in open with one motto in head ‘Dance like no one is watching you’.
Now we knew how he might have been dancing in the bathroom.
Again after couple of warning by patrolling cops, we were grooving in the tunes of Kishore Kumar as well as some item numbers from Bollywood.
There was a certain low in the mood of everyone, a low induced by the feeling that this was the last day of fun. Tomorrow everyone will go back to his or her city/village/country with no idea when such a get together will happen again. Next time not everyone may be able to make; maybe everyone will be older and less energized.
But with that low there was a high feeling as well, a high feeling for the new life the couple was going to start. A high feeling of having so many positive memories, funny incidences etc. we had which we will keep remembering and laughing for whole of our life. We will narrate these incidences to our kids as bed time stories.
Our Hero and our Heroine went to Mauritius for their honeymoon with many more funny incidences, which is beyond the scope of this blog.
Thanks for reading.
Text and Images by : Bibudesh