Sunday, December 16, 2012

Part 3 -Story of a Kashmiri Wedding - An Affair to Remember

So the day before the wedding came. It was the day of the maenzraat. Generally, in a KP wedding, another ritual of sacred thread is combined with the main event, especially for the groom and if not groom then some close relative. In the Bhat camp, it was the miniature devil, Akshit, Amit’s cousin and in the Raina camp, Meenu’s Rockstar younger sibling Anil (aka Amit aka A1) who were all set to give up the scalp hair in the next 2-3 days. The maenzraat was combined for Amit and Akshit on the same evening.

I guess that a bride’s mehandi raat is more elaborate than a groom’s. Having attended Meenu’s mehandi raat a couple of days ago, I had no doubt about it. First of all, applying henna design on palms and feet is a feminine trait and now-a-days brides are very curious about the henna designs since they form the major part of their wedding albums. When we arrived for Meenu’s mehandi raat, she was all in for the intricate henna designs by the artist and when we left, yes, she was still in for the designs. Further, Raina camp had 3 luxuries at that time. The Bachkot performance, performance by Anil Raina on his guitar (oh I remember he being conservative about applying henna on fingers so that he can play his guitar) and a gap of 2 days before wedding
The Bhat camp didn’t have the luxury of a rockstar playing a guitar and a gap of 2 days. I constantly heard that guests would be arriving by afternoon and we would have to be ready for it. I was still wondering who the guests were. After a little inquiry, I came to know that they were the maternal relatives of Akshit who would be bringing milk (why??...that is an old tradition, dude!).  So somehow I was also made the part of the company who would be facing the guests at the gates. Never in my life, I have hugged so many strangers but that happens in Kashmiri wedding. Never in my life I have got so many pecks on my cheeks but that happens in Kashmiri Wedding.
Test of my character was waiting for me as I myself presented for the service. It was Kodak moment when a son-in-law of a KP family was seen with two plates in two hands full of sweets serving the guests with a smile on his face. Generally, it should not be happening – kind of a protocol. And I am the nemesis of protocols. Another protocol I was breaking was that of an attire. The last week of November is bound to be chilly in Jammu. While everybody else were clinging to their sweaters, coats and phirans (the traditional kashmiri overcoat), I stuck to a black lycra t-shirt with a half sleeve jacket flaunting non existing deltoids. J
As the evening approached, the environment became more lively. One of the best things about Kashmiri wedding is the abundance of tea (sweet- called as Lipton chai and salted known as sheer/nun chai) as well as cold-drinks along with munchings like breads like crip. It is the groom’s (as well as bride’s) paternal aunt who has the responsibility (and privilege) of applying mehandi and again gets handsomely paid. So if any of the paternal aunts (buaa)  are thinking about belittling this relation then I vouch for the KP Buaa…she gets the attention and money, both! JThe groom’s mehandi is not as elaborate as the bride’s and for obvious reasons. The relatives are also adored with some henna on their hands by the paternal aunt and you have to reward her for that. J
The maenzraat celebration asks for a similar spread of food as of wedding day since this is the biggest feast from the groom’s side as the wedding takes place (or is arranged by) as per the Bride camp. The typical and popular menu is dum aloo (deep fried perforated potato cooked in spices), wazul chaman (paneer chunks in red gravy), lyadur chaman (paneer chunks in yellow gravy), nadroo yakhni (lotus stem in spicy yoghurt gravy), rajma (kidney beans in red gravy) and chok wangun (tangy brinjals/aubergine/eggplant…did you know all these names?) and the ubiquitous BATTA (or steamed white rice). I am always fascinated by the fact of rice being the most essential item on the platter and can be easily compared to penchant of Bengalis and South Indians. It’s slightly unusual to see the rice being consumed so heavily in this part of India, just after the mighty Paratha Kingdom of Punjab. I am writing a separate article on food so no more discussion here.
After this ordeal, there is another ordeal of Devgone (Nothing to do with Ajay or your Devgan). It is quite an elaborative process signifying the advent of Grihasthashram for the groom giving up his Bramhacharya stage. The curious bunch may again google for it. I personally was not attending this part but couldn’t stop laughing when I saw the video footage because of the cameos of Akshit. He was enraged with cold water being poured on him and his mobile toy phone getting drenched. J
After the sumptuous meal, all are set for the much awaited celebrations of dance and music. It is now becoming a common practice to invite Bachkot. Bachkot is the dancer who accompanies the singing group and entertains the audience for a considerable part of the night. So Bachkot’s popularity is inching new high every wedding season due to high demand. In Kashmir, this was never a trend where the womenfolk amongst themselves used to sing and dance. The bachkot and party plays traditional kashmiri songs and people gyrate on these. Now-a-days, Sunny Paji would be very happy to hear “Main Nikala Gaddi Leke” being one of the popular numbers and dubbed in Kashmiri too. However, having mehandi raat on the eve of wedding has its repercussions.  
Due to being awake for a long time in the night, most of the baratis wake up puffed and bleary eyed, too dazed to come to the terms of making hurry. I, after having brief sessions of dancing with Bachkot and others, stealthily made my way to the beddings. My better 3/4th played a pivotal role in this. Though she, I could see was getting clearly stressed. With good meal and some exercise, it was not difficult for me and others to sleep even in the blaring output of the loudspeakers where the bachkot and party was playing songs. We were all set for the big day the next morning

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