In case you missed, read Part 6 here.
I saved the best for the last.
10:15 pm. I was accompanied downstairs by Mitul didi and Pishimoni (Baba’s sister). It was almost time for the wedding to commence. Lagna was at 10:37 pm. Lagna is the holy time to tie the knot.
But before that, two events were lined up.
Event 7 – Shubho Drishti – This is when the bride and groom see each other for the first time on the wedding day. I was seated on a wooden plank (piri) which was lifted up by my 2 cousins (brothers) and circumambulated around Tathagata 7 times – all this while holding up two betel leaves in front of my face. No peeking. 7 rounds later, I removed the leaves and looked at Tathagata. By this time, we were laughing! He looked ravishing as a groom. I think I blushed a little. The topor on his head was a little lopsided and he couldn’t have looked more delightful.
Event 8 – Mala Badal – exchanging wedding garlands. A tray containing two beautiful rose garlands was brought to us. We took one each and as Tathagata was about to put it on me, my brothers hoisted the piri I was seated on higher than his reach. It’s a fun game. Who gets to garland whom first? Now it was my time to garland Tathagata. But he too, was lifted up by his brothers away from my reach. That’s when it got competitive. I could hear people laughing around us as we were being hoisted higher and higher. I could feel my fear of height starting to grip me. As a reflex, I felt my hand clutching at and pulling my brother’s hair. I might have hurt him a little. We laughed a lot about it later. But all of that was totally worth it. In the end, thanks to my brothers and my (then) puny weight, I emerged the clear winner!
Garland and blush-decked and gushing all the while, we sat cross-legged on the floor of the wedding area. A fire had been lit and the priest chanted hyms that we repeated after. We offered homage to the fire after every verse we chanted.
Everyone except Maa was seated around us. Mothers of the bride and groom are not supposed to be present during the wedding. It’s a rule I cannot wrap my head around.
Event 9 – Saptapadi – The priest tied a knot between the end of my saree and Tathagata’s shawl. We walked around the fire 7 times. 7 rounds. 7 vows. Promises to love, support and protect each other for life. It is said that these 7 pheras (rounds around the fire) unite the two souls for 7 lifetimes.
On a lighter note, no matter where you are in the next lifetimes, I will find you and I will marry you! That’s probably what it means.
Event 10 – Lajanjali – an offering of puffed rice (khoi) to the sacred fire. The rice was given to me on a kulo (a flat bamboo container). Tathagata stood behind me extending his hands forward and resting them on mine holding the kulo as we slowly poured the rice into the fire.
Event 11 – Sindoor daan – Vermillion (sindoor) is the mark of a married woman. A generous dab of vermillion was heaped on the side of a tiny bamboo container which Tathagata brushed up along the parting of my hair, colouring it red – without looking. Payal was there to help him nail the spot. He more or less did. It was clumsy, but it was a charming kind of clumsy. I closed my eyes and smiled.
And we were married!
When I think of the day now, what overwhelms me the most is, how by the end of it all I had gained an entirely new identity. Wife. It’s a huge transformation. The realization hits you in a flash and catches you off guard. It takes time to understand and fit into this new-found tag. Luckily, Tathagata makes it easier for me. Even on our wedding day, he somehow understood my thoughts and his reassuring smiles gave me the strength I needed to process the reality.
Today and every day, he stands by me, making sure that I am cracking extremely poor jokes which he can outwit with poorer and sillier jokes. We laugh hard at stupid things, watch funny dog videos on a loop, make plans and then cancel them and take home amazing travel stories.
Now I have come to realize that you remain the same girl you were before the wedding started. What changes is the people you live with. What’s new is that you start getting to know your new family, from scratch. And then you start accepting them as your own. If you are lucky, your family will bring out the best in you. And so it has happened for me – in every aspect of my life. They love and support me and make me a stronger woman each day. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters.
This concludes my wedding series. 7 parts for the 7 vows. It feels a little sad to end this series. But hey, I’ve got so many more exciting experiences and stories lined up for you! I’m brimming with ideas for the next blog right now. So, I’ll leave you at that and give you time to scroll up through the wedding pictures again (I know you will, ha!). Oh and don’t forget to let me know how you liked reading it. Also, what are your memorable wedding day moments? I would love to know too!
All photos in this blog have been taken by Srejon Imagery.