Saturday, 27 August 2016

Shyamala's marriage

Shyamala's parents have no land at all. Their health is also not very good. Buji babu, her father suffers from excruciating leg pains, and the mother Lakshmikantha has been unable to work hard since her hysteractomy. Just as much as they dote on their three daughters, marrying them has been high on their worry list.

Shyamala is only 19. After looking for matches for a year, her parents agreed to Vasu, whose parents had been approaching them persistantly.  Vasu's family lives two streets away. I was initially opposed strongly as I know that Vasu drinks, and I know where drink leaves the wife. But  the decision was taken, maybe because Vasu's family was willing to carry the costs of the wedding as they are better off and have some land. And then I consoled myself with the knowlege that today all the village youth of this village, and every village, are into drink. Drink is an epidemic, a social disease. The answers need to be structural. And till then many sacrifices will be claimed.

The marriage cost Shyamala's family 1 lakh 60 thousand, of which the 60 thousand went towards adding a front porch with a tin roof to their tiny home to accomodate the family which would come. The one lakh included the pair of gold earrings, the sarees, the melam (nadaswaram players), hosting their side of the family, the food and the sweets. In these times when everything has to be bought rice, dal, chillies, tamarind the costs cannot be controlled. The family had some money, but the rest was borrowed, and they have a debt of a lakh now. Which though labouring they need to repay.

(The bride being dressed by her friends in her house. The nalugu function is done the previous day when the girl is anointed, and goes to the village temple and prays.)

Vasu's family took case of the function costs. The function was held under a shamiana before his house. Anandanna and Nadupaiya, wearing towels turbanned on their heads were the priests from the community. A brahmin priest was also with them who took case of some mantras. The nadaswaram played here also, raising the auspicious notes to the sky during the muhurtam time of 3 am. Vasu's family costs were a lakh, including everything.

  (The two village priests turbanned and sitting down, and the brahmin priest with a red towel -  a white cloth is helf between the bride and groom at muhurtam time.)

(The groom washing his father's feet)

                                            (The groom washing his wife's mother's feet)

(The Telugu ritual of placing jaggery-jeera mixture on the head of the bride by the groom and vice versa)

The muhurtam was followed by the 'chaduvinchatam'. Gift giving is serious business where those who wish to give go in a line and give their gifts publically , which are noted down by writers on the girl's side and on the boy's side respectively. The gifts given to the girl belong to her, and articles given are for her family. Similarly the gifts given to the boy. Families make sure than when their turn to gift comes in a future function, a matching gift is always given. It could be a metal utensil, or a gold ring, or money.

After the wedding the bride and groom spend a night in each home alternately, and them they set out on temple visits. Kanipakkam, Tirupathi. I hope the gods redeem Vasu from his habit of   drink forever.

The expenses on wedding, and the social pressure therein are rising. The gold on a girl is her security and personal asset, but the paraphernalia on clothes is also high. Shyamala's saree was 5000.-, as also Vasu's wedding attire. Also weddings are community affairs and the community is fed, and many costs pile up when nothing is grown locally in the drought times. Social questionsings are needed to make sure that no one needs to or will spend beyond their means, and on borrowed money.

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