Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Unsuitable Bride

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Gods conspired to make my wedding truly eventful and brimming with suspense. Barely days before I was supposed to become a Missus, Rajiv Gandhi decided to get assassinated (may his soul rest in peace and damn you LTTE). The entire nation went into mourning and all public functions were banned for two weeks. It elicited mournful reactions from our many relatives Shushantor meyer biyer ki hobe!! (Whatever will happen to Sushanto’s daughter’s wedding!) My dear relatives were more concerned about my wedding and so was I.

To make things worse, the weather gods thundered and enveloped the entire city with heavy rains. Just a day before my wedding, I witnessed a heavy downpour reduce a magnificent Pandal to a pathetic, soggy mess. For God’s sake, God, can you please try and help!

Your wedding is an event that changes you and your life forever, for better or for worse. I was more than willing to embrace this change, I was desperate. For me, this was my ticket to freedom, to adulthood and all things wicked that I had only read in books so far. It helped that I was getting married to someone who was everything I ever wanted in a man.

The first time I met him, I was far from impressed. Gosh, he talks too much. I don’t like his sweater. Did he just finish all the sweets on his plate! He in turn found me too snooty, cold and fell for my boisterous dad and amicable brother instead. It was years later he finally admitted that he had fallen in love with my photograph before he actually met me. Yes, we had an arranged match, aided partly by providence and enterprise.

Our age-old wedding rituals were created by ancestors who had too much time in hand or perhaps it was their grand idea of permanently etching this momentous occasion in our fickle memory. Designed like one of the reality shows that you’d rather not watch - you are made to binge and starve in turns. Your privacy goes for a toss, since your house is jam-packed with relatives who you had last met when you were not toilet-trained, running around in a red frock. They never let you forget that and insist on regaling the whole house with squirm-worthy tales.

On the D-day you are woken up even before your neighbourhood cock had cleared its throat, have food shoved down your throat since you are expected to fast until your wedding vows are solemnised. In the name of beauty ritual, your loved ones insist on slathering you with copious quantities of turmeric and then drench you with water in full public view. On your most special day you have to bear the ignominy of seeing your near and dear ones hogging away to glory, while your stomach growls in protest. Everybody has fun in a wedding except the bride and the groom. They are made to sit on a stage, smile till their sides ache and shake hands till they are ready to collapse. And yes they are also the last ones to be fed.

At barely 22, I may not have known what I wanted but I definitely knew what I didn’t. I didn’t want to look like an assembly line dolled up bride. The salon was quite taken aback with this chit of girl who didn’t want a jooda and almost gave the make-up girl a nervous breakdown with her long list of vehement don’ts. When I insisted that my short hair be simply arranged in curls, the lady asked me whether I was a Christian. How can a self respecting Hindu bride not prefer red and maroon all over her face!

My Maa was too busy playing the gracious hostess to notice my unconventional hair-do and make-up and by the time she did she could only express helpless outrage. In the evening, guests invited for the marriage ceremony saw a bride who talked non-stop with her hair done up like a school girl. In fact in most of my wedding photographs, my mouth is wide-open, my face contorted with myriad expressions. Yes, not even a minute’s break did I take.

 My wedding ceremony was at way past midnight and convention dictates that my uncles and brother hand-deliver me to my waiting groom for the ceremony to commence. I was perched atop a pirhi (a wooden plank) with my face hidden behind a paan. At 44 kgs I wasn’t exactly heavy, yet my dear ones managed to sway dangerously and tried sending me hurtling to the ground or so I thought. I made a scintillating entry at the mandap – my alarmed screams reverberating in that balmy May night. Someone whispered an ominous warning in my would-be’s ears – Dada, she will be quite a handful.

For the first time that day, actually after many days I again the saw the man I was supposed to spend the rest of my life with. In a conical hat (topor) and his forehead looking like a painted flower vase, I bit my lips hard to stifle a smile.

Traditional Bengali wedding rituals include a lot of fun and games. The hapless pair is lifted to dizzying heights to avoid the mala-bodol (garland exchange) and then they are expected to look deep into each other’s eyes with everybody loudly cheering them on. On your wedding, thoughts of romance are forcibly evicted from your mind.

After fun unlimited at our expense it was time to get down to serious business. For the next three hours both of us sat in front of the fire getting slow roasted while the priests chanted mantras in slow motion. Dressed in a heavy Benarasi and tons of jewellery, I was sweaty, tired and very-very hungry. At the end of our trial by fire, as we were finally declared man and wife, he gently squeezed my hand. My parting and the rest of my hair was now covered with vermillion. The brand new husband had got a tad emotional and poured a year’s supply of sindoor in my parting. I even had sprinkles of it on my forehead and nose. As I looked into his eyes, we smiled. All the madness, the anxiety of the last few weeks disappeared magically. The two halves had now become a whole, we were now complete. 

To find out what happened after ....Marital Bliss
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64 comments:

  1. Lol...at imagining you screaming while being swayed on the pirhi. I think thats the reason why they starved you. The poor guys couldn't have carried a tonne of mass, you would have gained if you had binged on those bong sweets.
    And as regards the mush part you added.....hmmmm....aaaaa.....nggggg.....hmmmm...aaaa...believe me, I am trying real hard to add a comment.

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  2. woww! so sweet! wud love to see ur weddin picture

    wat i hear frm my cousins is d wrst part of deir wedding has been thankin all d ppl who cum in to congratulate cos dat way dey hav to stand fr hours at a stretch....n in hindu weddings i think do d pairi paina thingy as wel so even more travails! :D

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  3. Oh man cant wait to come to delhi and hang with you. Totally unsuitable bride. Lovely write up- just what I needed with my morning cup of coffee.
    Cant wait for part 2.

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  4. Ah. oh! The imperfections made this story possible… and I would have been stunned if you told me about the conventional bride you were. This is so you and so perfect!

    But I wonder, why don’t families allow the to be husband-wife decide the kind of wedding they would like to have. Why at that very point your opinion is not important because ‘you don’t understand the sensitivity of the occasion’ and it become a question of reputation?

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  5. Entertaining post as always!
    And I so agree when you say "Everybody has fun at a wedding except the bride and groom"...so true!!!
    And am sure they make the process so long, complicated and exhausting so that you never have the guts to repeat it again! :)

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  6. I so wanna see your picture where your hair is done like a school girl and your mouth is wide open. :P You should have put a picture along with this post.

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  7. Enjoyed reading this post.... It was sweet :)
    Indian weddings are a tiring affair indeed...
    So even Rajiv Gandhi had a say in your wedding... :D
    Heavy rains... They say it rains in the wedding if you eat from the utensil in which food is cooked? Did you..?? If this belief is true then the place where I get married would be flodded coz I love to eat from kadai... :D :D

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  8. Both hilarious and captivating at once. You managed to capture the palpitations, the traditions, the revelry, the travails and much more in a short post. And yes, it reminded me of mine own....

    Excellent stuff.

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  9. Aww...
    How beautiful this comedy of errors turned out to be!

    Loved it to the core! :)

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  10. snow Leopard.... The ones who claim to be allergic to mush, fall the hardest.


    Sadiya...Deliberately didn't put my wedding pic. Didn't want you commenting on the pic instead :P


    Jyotika...Plan a trip fasssst

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  11. Pals...The last thing I wanted was a big fat wedding. But it was something I had no say in.

    Supernova...One of the reasons why Indians don't divorce easily :P

    Nethra....Hahahaha...maybe some other time.

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  12. hahaha, i have written similar post but in kannada :) you should have put some pics too :)

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  13. Tanishka...LOL can't remember licking sabzi off the karhai.

    Umashankar....It is an overwhelming experience. And believe me, I wanted to write so much more.

    Enchanta...Hope it didn't scare you off :)

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  14. Touche!...to two halves becoming complete.
    Wish we could see the bride with a curly mop...Look forward to more.

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  15. Twenty-two is too young to be married! Lol at face contorted with myriad expressions and the entry of a screaming bride :-D

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  16. Well the Gods seemed to be too overwhelmed with their beloved Purba getting married, that they cried too hard and for too long.
    Well I am just curious that did you cry when you were to leave in the Doli or were waving and fly kissing away Ma and Papa? :P
    The way a bride has narrated her marriage, its different. :P

    What an idea madam ji :)

    Cheers,
    Blasphemous Aesthete

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  17. This is just WOW! An unknown experience is always a WOW.

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  18. may be...it goood becoz this article was just superb ....

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  19. Thats a lovely portrayal of a suitable bride;) Very interesting to read abt the rituals. Glad you found the love of your life. Nice read!

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  20. So like you Purba. Agree with Pallavi about being disappointed had you behaved any differently. All is well that ends well. Anniversary time or just an awww moment that made you remember it all? :)

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  21. :) Now, this is an unexpected post. You have lovely memories of your wedding, and you just made it better by penning it down.

    I love how simple and uncomplicated it seems to have been (don't bite my head off if it wasn't), now its just one BIG mess. Right from finding the right guy, to finally reaching the altar safe and sound together.

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  22. I have heard a lot about bengali weddings and I wonder how much of it is followed even today when ppl dont have the patience....nyways i would love to hear the grooms story too you should think of having a guest post by your husband

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  23. Good to remember all those fine details of what happened so many years ago.
    Yes the rituals and customs of an Indian wedding is far too deep, and you are at the mercy of your relatives, friends and the pundit.

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  24. Bravo, you were not mistaken :)

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  25. I can just say awwww....This was such an adorable post. Maybe you should write a book on this some day. I would be the first buyer!

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  26. Alka....Maybe someday I"ll upload it on FB :)

    Giribala...Told yaa, I was in a hurry :P

    Blasphemous Aesthete...Only when I saw my brother and Mum crying and then everyone joining in en-masse, did the water works start. And the hubs joined in too :)

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  27. Prateek...Wait till you get married!

    Vish...Glad you liked it.

    cloud nine...thank you:)

    zephyr..An aww moment is more like it. Enjoying your vacation?

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  28. Pzes...You will find the right guy, he's out there somewhere.

    Shahid...His experience was completely different from mine. Will certainly ask him.

    Haddock...So true...you feel so helpless.

    Sam....I will write just for you :)

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  29. Wonderful, what an experience.

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  30. :) good to know that you have been consistently hard headed!!

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  31. I would like to see your wedding pics.loved it;god..I can't stop laughing.

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  32. Rajesh :))

    magiceye...Hard headed? Now that doesn't sound nice.

    Pratibha...Hehehe...Had I put my photos all of you would have ended up comementing on the pics!

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  33. Thats not bad....
    My brother in law commented and i quote-
    "Saale mere paiso ka khaa rahe hai aur main bhukha hoon"

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  34. And they say weddings are a piece of cake. I wonder why. Certainly, it was memorable enough; one of the biggest days in your life! Wish you two an extremely long and LTTE cum rain free wedded bliss. :-)

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  35. Perception....Seriously, big fat wedding and everyone is having fun but you.

    D2...Aww thank you for your wishes :)

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  36. Marriage functions are a fun time mixed with many paradoxes, you like it or not, have to follow the rituals.

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  37. Voila!~ A wedding pressure explained in detail how a bride and groom face while every one else is having fun.. lolz i am going to suggest this post to my friends who got married and surely they will relate to you :P

    "At the end of our trial by fire..............The two halves had now become a whole, we were now complete. "

    Such a thoughtful writing, I could imagine most of the emotions well... you are great guns.. :)

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  38. such an awesome post! I am a lover of traditional weddings but this came as a surprise. usually the poor brides are made to sit expressionless for around (4-5 hrs) with their head so low that the very next moment they could be detected with spondylitis, so u definitely were/are quite brave :P
    like other, i too would have loved to c ur pic!

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  39. SR...The rituals have an element of sanctity. They may be painfully long but you dare not mess with it.

    Hemal... I suggest you get your unmarried friends to read this post. They will be better prepared :)

    subtlescribbler...Since it's a once in a lifetime event/ordeal for most of us, with put up with it.

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  40. After a lot of work at the periphery(talking about people) now you are at the center -writing about self-enjoyable and very ethnic.

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  41. Aparna...Yea, wrote a memoir after a long time.

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  42. The emotions of change, of starting anew summarised so beautifully !
    Enjoyed reading it.

    Panchali Sengupta

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  43. Glad the Bong Ladies approve :))

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  44. Love love love the discriptions ....
    But hey I had a blast at my wedding, dressed like a Christmas tree that i was very happy to be, the only thing i could do was think whether they had stole the shoes. God, it was fun.

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  45. Missed many of your posts lately..you know why. Going backwards now..don't want to miss any of them. You seem to be getting better with each post..with no competition nearby...is there any way to register my votes at one go for all the upcoming polls?
    Still laughing at the thought of you sitting on a pirhi with your curled hair....

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  46. This is now a Bong-babes get together and I'm loving it.

    Rituparana....I was in a daze, the enormity of it had yet to sink in. You don't suddenly stop being the girl you were.

    Rajashree....It is tough to keep up my frenetic output :))

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  47. what a coincidence almost same year i too got married amidst all the ceremony in August. Wonderful post

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  48. Hahahaha...quite an interesting and a funny read :) Good to read and know about one of my favourite bloggers :)

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  49. Nice read :) reminded me of my wedding.

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  50. Deguide... Ahh is that :))

    Siddhartha...Awww thanks...And I love both your blogs :)

    Sanchita...Special day, extra special memories.

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  51. awwww :) sweet!

    I can read/hear thousands of wedding experience posts.
    They never bore me just amaze me. Love the feeling :))
    Yeah! Hopeless romantic :D

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  52. Haha...loved it! Absolutely Hilarious to the core :)

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  53. Wow! married at 22 n yet so cheerful..lol :D

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  54. Unsuitable? hmmmm I really wonder whether some one who is very suitable would be able to come up with such a blog? ;)
    Have a happy life...

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  55. meprentious...That makes two of us :)

    Amandeep....So glad

    Ana-treek...Honey I was on cloud nine!

    Farila...Thank you for your wishes.

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  56. Hey there, it was such a cute post..Now Iam soooooo eager to see your wedding pic..Look at the weight, 44 kgs..r u kidding me or what...wooh I was never that thin even on the thinnest day of my life lol..

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  57. I couldn't correlate "the unsuitable bride" with the rest of the story! You said it was arranged.

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  58. Indianvalueswevalue....I'm petite so I guess it was ok :)

    Aseem...Yes it was arranged but why can't the bride be unsuitable?

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  59. Lovely post! It certainly evokes memories of my big day too nearly three years back! Ah, you have captured nearly everything including everyone hogging away when I was famished after the pre-dawn awakening and make up session! Now as I look back, I wish I could do it all over again with the same husband :)! Saw your post through Zephyrs blog and Indivine and I must say you write a wonderful blog!

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  60. Logically, since it was arranged you had to be the best (or rather the most suitable) amongst the rest!

    Err, never mind!
    http://www.aseemblogs.blogspot.com/

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  61. Richa....There's so much to write, I don't think a single post can ever do justice to it. And thank you so much.

    Aseem...If you insist :))

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  62. Forehead looking like a painted flower vase! Humour at its best! Do you show him all these posts that you write! Any ways may your funny bone grow longer in the days to come! :)

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