Sunday, December 24, 2006

My Brothers Wedding - Part 1

My younger brother's marriage has been something we all have been looking forward to a long time. My Tutu (Dr. Prasenjit) has always been the star of the house, both at home and with the extended family, everybody's favorite brother, nephew and lately uncle. So it goes without saying that when he announced an year back that he had finally met the young lady whom he would like to be his wife, we all jumped with joy.

The lady in question was Priyanka (Runki), also a doctor studying in the same college as his. But more on her as we go ahead. Both of them had decided that they wanted a Traditional Bengali Marriage.


My brother combines a modern outlook to life with a firm commitment to our traditions with remarkable elan. So the background work for the wedding started almost an year back with our mom visiting Rumki's family at Guwahati to establish the "First Contact". Once she had seen her and her family, she just couldn't stop raving about how much she had liked Rumki and everyone else she had met. This was followed by Rumki and her family visiting us in Bangalore and needless to say I was equally impressed. I was really touched by the closeness everyone shared, exactly the way our father had run his family. A joyous agreement was reached and the virtual countdown started.

The Ground Work

A Wedding needs a lot of planning. The whens, the wheres and the hows pop-up at alarming rapidity demanding attention. Rumki's father proposed the date of 5th Dec, which suited everyone perfectly. A second decision that was reached collectively was that the wedding would be held in Guwahati followed by a reception at Dankuni. Dankuni was preferred over Calcutta proper as it was indelibly associated with our father in our minds. The Guestlist was mom's responsibilities and I provided the logistics support. Tutu himself helped mom with the shopping at Delhi, where she went for a few months before the marriage to set up his home for him. Phones were abuzz on who would reach where and how. Mom reached Dankuni first, followed by our Pishibabu, Pishimoni and Mamoni from Silchar. I reached a few days later from Bangalore, the same day that my little Rudra, Mona and her mother also reached. The talks with the various pandal and food providers had just strated when Tutu also reached from Delhi on the 30th of Nov. A day before I met my cousin sister Brinda and her three year old daughter Diya, at the home after a long time.

Some of the ritual pujas that precede a Bengali wedding had already started at Dankuni. We had a funny video segment of Mom, Pishimoni, Mamoni, Mona, Rudra and I going in a file to offer betel leaves to Tulsi plans followed by a posse of neighbourhood dogs during Pano Khili.

In all planning our sister Mamoni has played a stellar role. She would be the one all would turn to for everything. Studying to be a lawyer this kid sister of ours is a very sweet level headed young lady with a bright future ahead of her. Guidance from Pishibabu, Halader Kaku and others were of tremendous help.


On the 2nd of Dec, the Bor Jatri started from Calcutta with Kanai's name on our lips. A delay in the starting of the train by a few hours had Rumki's father quite worried but there was relief all arond when the train finally started. The journey was my Rudra's first train journey which he enjoyed immensely. Teasing Tutu, playing with Rudra, buying the usual junk from the train, trading jokes and stories, we reached Guwahati by late the following evening. The party that came to receive was larger that our crew which came. Tutu's friend Manojit had come directly from Delhi and was also at the station. We were taken to a guest house that Rumki's father had booked for a dinner and an well earned rest.

Last day's Shopping and Preparations

On a wedding shopping doesn't end until the wedding is over! The ladies went shopping during the day, accompanied by Tutu, Manojit and a very able friend of Rumki's Mahamaya. I spent a happy 2 hours with my Rudra after a long time. In the evening it was my time to continue the good work with Mahamaya and Manojit. Going to fancy bazaar after more than 10 years was quite nostalgic. The place has changed quite a bit since I saw it last. We had an interesting Marawari sweet that I don't remember the name of.

Tutu was woken up at 4 o'clock on 5th morning the next day by mom and other's for a ritualistic meal Khoi (Pop Rice) and curd called Dodhi Mangal. A little later elders from Rumki's house came to bless the groom followed by her sisters and sisters-in-law who derived great pleasure of smearing my brother with pasted turmeric and thoroughly drenching him with water. Mamoni also go the same treatment. Mona got a little smear on her cheek.

We than followed with a visit the bride's family to bless her. Mona and I were delayed a little as pangs of hunger drove her to a Parota corner, but still reached in time for the ceremony. The lunch was superb, particular the prawns curry that we later learned Rumki's mom had prepared.

The Wedding
Evening that the time of marriage had arrived. Tutu looked very smart dressed his sherwani. Our cousins and the family who stay in Guwahati and Tutu's friends and colleagues from college stared joining us at the Guesthouse. About 8.30 or so we started for My Tutu's wedding escorted by Rumki's family members. As the car procession reached near their house we were greeted by fireworks and a lot of cheering.

An interesting custom is stopping the grooms party at the marriage gate. This was led by Ria, Rumki's sister whose army of friends staged a mock barring of gate and after some good humoured haggling let us in to the wedding area.

Rumki's father and mother greeted us and had us seated in a special area made for us. Rumki was seating in her bridal finery in a similar area. Thereafter started an elaborate series of auspicious rituals, - puja that Tutu and Rumki's father participated, a change of cloths for tutu, Rumki being carried around Tutu for the Saat Paak, exchange of garlands, the Shubo Dristi, more puja's and yagna's. The whole thing continued till around 11.00.

Rudra enjoyed his favourite uncles marraige to the hilt though he insisted that either his mom or I carry him. We all had dinner in between but Tutu and Rumki had to wait till all the rituals were done. This include some "games" as well that the two of them had to play. Only then did they get something to eat.

With that Tutu and Rumki were recognized by all as Man and Wife.

Tutu, Manojit and Mamoni stayed back for some more fun, while the rest of us came back to the guest house after that. Bashi Biye was solemnized the next day, continuation of the marriage activities, but not as elaborate as the main wedding. There was still some time before the actual "Bidai" or the ritualistic leaving of the bride from her father's house. I took the opportunity to visit Kamakhya

That evening the Bor Jatri, with the welcome and prized company of Rumki, started back for Dankuni for the next phase of the Wedding...