Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Second Knot

It is said that the only thing constant in the Universe is change.  When i compare the life of my daughters with the kind of life my Mum lived as a teenager i find such a deep chasm between the two, buffered  only by my own growing up years  as a teenager in the late 80s.  

When i got married in mid 80s , divorce was still a hush -hush word.  People frowned upon a divorcee, unable to think beyond her status.  And the plight of widows was not much better either.  They were expected to keep a low profile and raise their kids singlehandedly.  This was the time when dowry deaths were at a  peak.  Women who lived in unhappy marriages , in fear of being sent back home, were burnt to death at the hands of greedy in- laws. Lobbying by  NGOs  resulted in formation of new laws  which curbed this social menace. But as a decade or more passed and we entered the new Millennium, changes were evident in society. A big part was played by the opening up of the world into our homes via the  internet.

Today if you see a divorced woman or a widow living life at her own terms, people nod in approval and say, 'Yeah, life has to go on.' And second marriages are no longer frowned upon.

I was witness to a second marriage recently.  My niece Megha  got married at  the age of 49 to Manish who is 58.  Megha had been divorced since the last two decades and lived with her widowed mother.  Her brother lived on the ground floor and the daughter- mother duo lived on the first floor with their own separate kitchen.  Megha took up a job in the local school and life was going on fine.  And then the inevitable happened. Her mother passed away.  On the day of the cremation as all the relatives  huddled around the pyre, the thought crossing in every person's mind was, 'What will happen to Megha?' How will she live alone now?

Six months later my hubby got a call from Megha's brother. "Megha is getting married .  It is a low key affair but you are invited . Please be there to give her your good wishes". As hubby gave me this piece of news , my first reaction was, " That's great! I am so happy she has found her life companion"

As i got ready for the marriage a dozen questions crossed my mind. How did she meet  Manish?  Did Manish have children? How many and how old were they? Were they married? Where would she live after marriage? How would she be dressed as a bride? Would she wear chooda? Probably not.Etc

On reaching their home i straight away went to the first floor  where Megha lived.  She was already ready.  She wore a mustard and maroon colored silk saree and had just come from the parlor.  Mehndi on her hands, maroon and gold bangles, a gold set and make up for the occasion. She looked the perfect bride, all set the take the saat pheras.

So how did you meet Manish?

We met on Jeevansaathi. com

How long have you known him?

Its been six months now.

So you had a proper courtship,  I smiled

Yes.  We visited Mathura, Vrindavan  together once 

Did you have a ceremony prior to this?

No, but we exchanged gifts.  He gave me a pair of jhumkis.

I couldnt help smiling at that.  You must have met his children?

Yes. They came for dinner a few  days back

And just then  a little girl came up and said,'' Panditji aa gaye hain.  neeche bula rahe hain"

We descended to the ground floor .  Megha went up to the bedroom and settled there, adjusting the maroon and gold dupatta on her head  I walked towards the living room which had been cleared of the central table and was the venue of the wedding.

The panditji  started making preparations fore the marriage.  He decorated the base of the havan kund with atta and  haldi, and covered  them with marigold flowers.  He placed the nariyal on the kalash and placed Ashoka leaves and mariogold flowers around it.  Out came kapoor, mauli, desi ghee, paan leaves , supari samagri for the havan and dhoop.  He had brought his assistant and together they made all  the arrangements

 Megha's brother left no stone unturned to make this a happy occasion for his sister.  Soon enough he got a call from Manish that they had arrived.  Megha's cousin took the  welcome thali and  welcomed Manish by putting a tilak and showering rose and marigold petals.

Manish wore a suit complete  with a  matching tie.  As he sipped his cold drink , i sensed a little  nervousness on his part.  But as the ceremony progressed he was  totally at ease.

 It was time to begin the havan.  Megha and Manish seated themselves in front of the havan kund. Megha had the maroon and gold dupatta over  her head and Manish wore a pagri.  The Pandit recited the  mantras and a little  while later it was time for Jai Mala. Everyone clapped and then Megha's cousin came and tied the knot of Megha's duppata with Manish's stole. The couple took one phera and  instead of the saat pheras Megha took seven small steps along with Manish.  Megha's Uncle performed the Kanyadan. Her brother did the pholiyan ceremony and hubby and i too took part in the ceremony too.  It was  now time to exchange the rings and finally  Manish put sindhoor on Megha's forehead.  The sound of claps reverberated throughout  the room and Meghan and Manish  were now Man and wife.

Due to the smoke from  the havan kund the living room had become stuffy, so we walked towards the pandal which had been erected just in front of the house.  Hubby told me that there was some paper work going on inside and a little  while later the couple came to the pandal.  As they sat down a table was placed in front of them and Megha's cousin brought a common plate laden with food for the newly weds.  One by one the relatives came and posed with the couple. The entire ceremony was covered in video by Megha's cousin.

Dinner over, we wished the couple a happy life and proceeded home.  It had been a great  experience watching Megha get married.   The sindhoor looked good on her and both Megha and Manish had been totally at ease while taking dinner. I later came to know that they went to Kulu Manali fore their honeymoon.  It has been six months now and  Megha is very happy in her second  marriage. A noteworthy case of a matrimony portal bringing two lives together.