Sunday, 14 May 2017

Doubly Cursed

It happened at a small place in Puri District of Odisha.

It was an arranged marriage. As per tradition, the bride’s brother had come as bardhara to formally invite the groom to come to their house for the marriage. The groom was getting elegantly dressed up for the occasion for starting in the decked up vehicle for the marriage-procession. At that time, a minor electrical fault in the room was noticed. A person climbed up an wooden stool to rectify it. He asked the groom to help him and the groom readily agreed.

Then all hell broke loose. Accidentally, the groom had touched a live electric wire. The death was instantaneous. The bardhara had to go back, carrying the sad news.
As per tradition, mangalakrutya (the bride ritually and ceremonially being made to sit on a grinding stone, other married ladies applying haldi paste on her limbs and bathing her) had already been performed on the previous day. Also, she had been bathed in badua pani (traditional water) which had symbolized the imminent end of her unmarried life. Tradition dictates that a mangula kanya (a girl who has undergone the process of mangalakrutya) can no longer remain in the parental house; she has got to be married off, post haste. This is done by very quickly finding out a suitable groom (dubbed Dhara Bara - literally, a caught groom) and marrying her off to him.
The girl’s parents and relatives did locate a groom and the marriage took place. The bride moved to the new groom’s house.

After spending two days there (but before the nuptial with the boy), the girl, who was highly educated, found that the boy was only low-educated. She was not ready to suffer her whole life with this semi-literate person. She preferred to go back to her to her parents’ house even with the prospect of remaining a spinster throughout her life.

Fortunately for her, the boy let her go.

And she returned.

Many questions remain unanswered:

Will she remarry?

Legally, she is a married woman, although she had had no physical relation with her ‘husband’. If she decides to remarry, she has first, to be got divorced from her present ‘husband’.  

How will the society look upon her? 

As a brave woman? A challenger of fate?

A far-fetched simile comes to mind. Should she have continued to stay in the house of her ‘husband’ and force him, goad him, to be educated like the highly learned princess, Kalidas’s wife did? 

Would it have been possible? Is it possible to make a legend a real event in a real life?

It may be recalled that this princess was very well-conversant with the Shstras and stipulated the condition that she would agree to marry only a person who would defeat her in a debate. Many eligible and wise persons came seeking her hands but no one could defeat her in the debate, A few of such persons saw the foolish Kalidas cutting from the stem, a branch on which he was sitting. To teach the princess a lesson, they manipulated things and took Kalidas to her father. They told the King that Kalidas was a very learned man but was on a vow of silence; he would answer the princess’s questions only with gestures. During the debate, the princess mistook Kalidas’s gestures, took him to be a very learned person and thought that she had lost to him in the debate. So, she agreed to marry him. The marriage was solemnized. Soon after, she found out that he was actually a fool and was an unlettered man. So she asked him to leave. On the way back, Kalidas got the blessings of Saraswati, the goddess of learning, and became a really learned man. He went to her; she accepted him and they lived happily ever after.

POST SCRIPT, 20th May:

Subsequent reports say that the 'husband' whom the girl had left, got married to another girl soon after.