Saturday, December 22, 2012

Part 5 - Story of a Kashmiri Wedding - An Affair to Remember

The rain god looked very anxious to attend the wedding. The heavy showers were actually lashing the whole area. Barnai and Patouli are relatively cooler areas due to the Chinab’s water flowing through the canals there. It was the last week of November. These three factors caused severe drop in the temperature and tea scored heavily over cold drinks on that day. J
I along with few other members retired from the scene early and had the comfort of enjoying the hospitality of Meenu’s maternal aunty (Maasi). However, no description of kashmiri wedding is complete without the mention of ‘Posh Puza’. Posh Puza literally means worshipping with flowers. Here the bride and the groom are considered to be Goddess Parvati and God Shiva. This remains probably the most distinct ritual of a kashmiri wedding. A red shawl or cloth covers the silhouette of both groom and bride and the married couples from the bride’s side shower the petals (again of marigold). It generally creates a heap of petals on the heads of the newly married.
I had been through this ritual. Though we got compliments for the heap of petals on our heads, I was about to cry loudly at the end of it. J My back was hurting so much due to an inclined position and eyes were red and puffed due to constant exposure to the holy smoke. But Amit told me that it was fairly comfortable for him.  Good for him.
By the time we got back to the scene, the posh puza was already over. The eyes were heavy for most of the Meenu’s relatives. It was the time for Bidaai or saying farewell to the bride as she is now the part of new home. Yes, everybody knows that the boys is good, her in-laws are nice, the relatives (especially like me…okay…that’s too much of footage…I better 3/4th) are cool but still, it is an expected world of unknown. The girl who has spent so many years suddenly leaves the place, suddenly she belongs to other home. It is indeed tough for the parents especially and the girl too. The emptiness in the house haunts the parents and the exposure to absolute novel stuff dazes the girl. I think it must be made compulsory for the groom also to at least spend a month at his in-laws sans all the luxuries of a ‘damaad’(Gosh..somehow the split of this hindi word throws English words like ‘Damn’ and ‘Mad’) and cook food….. J
Somehow, things were good for Meenu. She never felt alienated in the new set up since we people were not new to her. We had been very good friends. So this was a big comforting factor. So after Bidaai, we drove her to her Maasi’s home for the ritual of ‘firtur’ (I don’t know what is repeating here…can’t connect the dots like ‘firsaal’). Here, the aunt normally doesn’t allow the entry of newly-weds in a funny mood until the groom assures to fulfill her wish. I don’t know when Anita became the ‘aunt’ and was unruly demanding a Merc to Amit. Eww…common Anita…we stay in Mumbai…come off the age…demand Audi or Porsche! (Izzat ka Falooda!)
After entering the home, the newly-wed couple makes way to kitchen and again fed with the same menu. Now you know the names of the food items. Here, the association of ‘dyejhur’ with the ‘aath’ (the golden chains replacing the red threads the bride is wearing in her ears) starts. God, save the girl child! Here, the groom changes his clothes (undeniably suit..yes!) Time to drive to Meenu’s home. We were being eagerly awaited (I mean Meenu and Amit..we were the sidies) It was serious congregation at Meenu’s home. After we settled at our place, it was bit difficult to look up as everybody’s eyes were still on us as I was sitting next to Meenu and Anita sitting next to Amit.
Amit and Meenu had their fair share of food again. Rest of the group was happy with milk enriched with dry fruits. Time to change the clothes for the groom and bride again. Superstars, superstars! So finally, we were all ready along with loads of gifts which includes the tasty roth (a flatbread with poppy seeds and coconut), goes well with milk as well as tea. J A final goodbye and our SUV whizzed towards Amphalla. A traditional welcome at KPS and finally the bride became the Bahu of the Bhats (Bahu-e-Bhat).
A vote of thanks – Generally, an inspiration leads to creativity. The purer the inspiration is, the better the creativity. I have always been enamored by the distinctness of Kashmiri Pandits and no wonder, I am their son-in-law. The people, the food, the clothing, the rituals are different but also similar to rest of India. The watershed development of KPs migrating to Jammu and other parts of India from the valley has also had a deep impact on the lifestyle as well as the rituals. Mine was a creative effort to touch upon these facts on an occasion of a kashmiri wedding by being honest yet tickling your funny bone. This is pure inspiration which leads me to write and nobody pushes me to do it and I don’t get any monetary reward for it. You readers liking it, remains the biggest reward. Still my special thanks to all the members of Bhat and Raina family who undertook this cumbersome and herculean task of a kashmiri wedding and executed it in a very successful way. Thanks! J

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