Sunday, December 14, 2008

Of Marriages, Bengalis and Rosogollas

The annual hunting season is coming to its climax in India. 
And like every year there is much jubilation in the camps which have come home with their prized hunts, some captured after a lot of perseverance and months of dedicated stalking.

Yes it is the marriage season in India when many a worthy warrior of the bachelor camp, having fought off captivity valiantly over the years will finally succumb to the emotional blackmails of concerned mothers, to the shrewd manipulation of match making aunts, to the appearance of a bi-coloured band in the girlfriend's pregnancy test strip or sometimes to some whimsical thought of doing something different in life, often such ideas emerging under the influence of alcohol or some other intoxicating substance.

While people here in the west tone down the affairs to a certain degree in respect of the distraught sensibilities of the soon-to-be-caged, marriages in India compete to give the word ostentation a whole new meaning. 
This being the tenth year that I am out of home for padhai and rozi roti, I have been attending most marriages belated through photographs now and it I must tell you that missing marriages is really a huge huge loss.
While its stomach-breaking to hear of the menu over phone while you are chewing 'not-at-all-ready-to-eats' thawed in a microwave, it breaks a lot of other things when you see the photographs of all those dazzling femme-fatales giggling away in borrowed sarees.

Describing a typical middle class Bengali marriage and the various rites and rituals that accompany it would probably require Wikipedia to buy a few new servers to host all the information. 
In this post I merely attempt to give short descriptions of the various entities that give a Bengali marriage its typical flavour.

The Kaku-Jethu-Mesho huddle- Usually men in their late fifties and sixties talking about their common gastrointestinal problems and the latest ayurvedic herb which eases the motions. This discussion is followed by what their kids are doing now, which nobody gets a chance to complete anyway as someone would surely jump in mid way to share what their own kids have been doing. With an underlying intent to prove that their offsprings are doing better than the rest, this leads to animated discussions interrupted by wives bringing in digestive tonics, blood pressure medicines, waist belts etc. 
This group would suddenly thin out, giving the impression that they have retired for the night.
Then the orders for fried fish would start and sounds of laughter would ring out well into the night. The marriage continues somewhere in the background.

The Kakima-Jethima-Mashima Sammelan - This group of ladies form the most active party in the whole wedding with everyone seeming to be running around with the most urgent task at hand and if you happen to fall in their path then either you would be admonished for your carelessness or be immediately packed away on an errand to get that something  without which it would seem that the rituals of the marriage just wont proceed. 
Damn the clan of Pundits and their continuous chattering with God ! 
Anyway these women have another very important task in the marriage. That of spotting newbakras for their next match making opportunity and suddenly mothers with kids in marriageable age are thronged with attention. Sentences such as ' When is Joy next coming home ?' or 'Your daughter has completed her post graduation isn't it. That's wonderful' usually have an ulterior motive not visible to unsuspecting eyes. Seeds of many a future marriage are sown here while bachelors unaware of the predicament being arranged would be blissfully spending time guzzling beer and playing PS3 in some corner of the world. Idiots!! 

The Char-annas (kids) - This genre run amok in all directions unaware of what they should be breaking or where they should be peeing . Some gentler ones would be sticking close to their mothers while the notorious brigade would be thinking of plans of burning some firecrackers up the grooms dhoti-covered-ass. As if the poor soul is not already destined for graver injuries in life.

The Bhai-Bons -The lot sharing the common ancestry with the groom probably enjoy the most in the marriage. With no work or responsibility other than looking good themselves, they spend most of the time hunting out potential flirtable entities in the bride's camp and having found one would be seen constantly hanging around these entities, well unconcerned of that brother of theirs who sitting in front of the fire had made this all possible and who an hour back had wished to know the score of the Liverpool-Chelsea match. Sacrificial animals need to be left alone in their last hours, so they believe.
In sharp contrast, the bride's party would traditionally be at their best behaviours  camouflaging the glee of finally being able to get rid of the sister behind a facade of solemnity portraying the 'sorrow' of having to give her away. Sniff.

The Bandhobis - The female friends decked up in resplendent sarees and jewellery. Add to the glamour quotient of the marriage and usually keep the bride updated with all the gossip of whats happening in the marriage elsewhere. The unmarried ones pass fleeting glances at the handsome specimens of the group described below while the married ones rue a day very similar to this one which had snatched away their freedom to do so.

The Bondhugon - Mostly unmarried friends in suits representing the grooms friend brigade. Keep a watchful eye on the above group, interpreting smiles as invitation for dates and spend most of the time eating and doing nothing useful. They arrange on-the-stop rosogolla-eating-contests leading to an invariable shortage of the same and while nowhere to be seen when the need to drop an old relative back home arises, would suddenly emerge in full force as soon as they realise that the old relative is the father of the most dazzling lady from the above mentioned group.

All in all, I would say that a marriage is a lot of fun, but just as long as you yourself are not the one getting married. 
My folks complete 33 years of marriage today while my cousin sister completes her first. Wishing them many many more years of a happily married life.

P.S. If this post reeks of a chauvinistic approach trying to highlight the plight of the groom while completely disregarding the feelings of the lady involved then I sincerely apologise to my female readers. Like all men I have very little idea of the female psychology and thus did not wish to tread on an unfamiliar terrain.

Leo Tolstoy was brave when he said :
"When I have one foot in the grave, I will tell the whole truth about women. I shall tell it, jump into my coffin, pull the lid over me and say, 'Do what you like now'." 


Anonymous said...

As good as it can get. Your posts are always delight to read. Its nice that you are frequently blogging after a long hiatus now.

silverine said...

Such a cute post!! Looks like weddings are a family treat everywhere!! Blogrolling is not working so didn't see that you had updated!

"to the appearance of a bi-coloured band in the girlfriend's pregnancy test strip"

Describing a typical middle class Bengali marriage and the various rites and rituals ...require Wikipedia to buy a few new servers to host all the information."

"The marriage continues somewhere in the background."


Wanderlust said...

@Anonymous - Thank you. Indeed the hiatus has been a long one.Hope that the hiatus till the next hiatus is a long one too....

@silverine - Blogrolling rolled more than capacity I think. Pleasure to read your comments as always.

Neeraj said...

Glad to see you posting back once again. :)

I could almost imagine the scene of "guzzling beer and playing PS3 in some corner of the world". haha..

well written.

Sudipta Chatterjee said...

Hahhahah... awesome write-up as usual. Tell me, how many dates (err.. smiles) did you manage to get? :P

Wanderlust said...

@Neeraj- Thanks for dropping by mate.

@Sudipta - Yaar smiles milte to I would have been on the other side of the marriage border see...But hope is still alive :-) Thanks for the link in blogbharti...

Pradeep Nair said...

Didn't know all this. Interesting and informative.

Rajarshi said...

Hey, Nice to see you posting again. Another incredibly witty post of yours. Are you in the radar of some Kakima-Jethima-Mashima? Well had read another blogpost of Bengali Weddings on GreatBong's blog. Try reading that if you haven't. And keep the wit flowing.
Wish you a very Happy, Beer Abundant and "Bachelor"ing New Year:)