Asia » India » Rajasthan » Jaipur - 12 March 2012
12.03.2012 - 15.03.2012 25 °C
Fortunately, after last night’s celebrations, we were able to have a lie-in but, by eleven o’clock, Pintu was already well on his way to wearing another smart costume and was having a new turban tied.
Today, he wore a cream-coloured tunic coat over a white shirt, with matching trousers and some new brown, boot-style shoes. His turban was mainly in shades of blue with a red, white and green tail, decorated again with one of the family’s jewels.
We drove first for about 15 minutes to Rajshri’s family home in another part of the city. Hot, sweetened milk was enjoyed in the lounge by members of the bride’s family and a few invited guests of the bridegroom, of which I was very privileged to be one. A short ceremony of welcome took place in the street outside, accompanied by a drummer and a musician blowing a sort of trumpet, before the veiled bride, wearing her elaborately-decorated red sari, and the groom processed back into the house.
Now they played some slightly risqué games, watched over by guests - who, judging by their applause and laughter, were evidently enjoying them even more than the bride and groom.
First, a handful of stones and a ring were repeatedly tossed into a bowl of milk. Each time, Rajshree and Pintu had to put their hands into the bowl and feel around among the unseen stones to find the ring, doubtless brushing fingertips as they did so. I’m not sure who won, but Rajshree ended up with the ring on her finger. Maybe Pintu chivalrously allowed her to win it!
Next, pieces of cotton wool were placed on various parts of the bride's and groom’s bodies for the other to recover. Some pieces were placed near these two shy people’s more intimate parts, resulting in stifled giggles from the couple and considerable mirth from the audience.
They then had to untie one of the lachas they each had on their wrists, and to feed small amounts of rice to each other, this latter being quite difficult as Rajshri’s face was still covered by a veil.
After, in a room on a lower floor, there was a photo session with Rajshri posing alone - at last without the veil that had covered her face throughout. There seemed to be a swarm of photographers waiting with bated breath for this moment. Is there a collective noun for photographers? A clique of cameramen, perhaps? A swarm of shutterbugs? A snap of photographers? A lobby of lensmen? A school of snappers? Any more suggestions?
A printed cloth was held behind the bride to conceal an otherwise detracting wall, and professional photographers, each with a stills camera and huge video camera, one set employed by Pintu’s family and the other by Rajshri’s, had a field day asking for this pose and that pose. I tried my best to capture some of her shy and elegant poses on my own, significantly smaller, camera.
This was my first proper sight of Rajshri's face. She really does have lovely dark-brown eyes. Although it was proper for her to only smile in a shy way at this time, she was in a more relaxed mood when I met her again some days later and I discovered then that she has a very broad, sweet smile. What’s more, this intelligent young lady has a post-graduate degree in commerce and, having looked after her widowed father for the past few years, she knows how to run a household. Oh, and I hear she’s a very good cook too! She'll make a wonderful wife for Pintu. Perhaps it goes without saying that I believe Pintu will make a wonderful husband for Rajshri too! Incidentally, I haven't previously mentioned their ages; Rajshri is 24¼ and Pintu is 28½.
Then, up we went to a rooftop terrace, where white and blue drapes formed a shaded canopy. Now, a special bridegroom’s breakfast ceremony was to be performed. We removed our shoes, as is customary, and I sat with Pintu, Shibu and male members of Rajshri’s family on a raised, padded floor covering. Pieces of rice were daintily fed to Pintu and others seated here, although very little of the food placed before us on trays was actually eaten.
When the ceremony was completed, we all stood up and replaced our shoes ready to leave – all of us except for Pintu, that is. His shoes had mysteriously disappeared!
In a traditional charade that followed, Rajshree’s younger sister demanded a ransom for the shoes that we now knew had been taken and hidden by her. After some half-hearted bargaining, Pintu parted with a handful of cash and was finally reunited with his shiny new shoes.
Those of us who had to return to Sadri were now running out of time. It was a very long way and the thought of the last unmade section of ‘road’ having to be negotiated in the dark was terrifying. We took a rapid lunch at the venue, collected our baggage from the hotel, and set off.
Unfortunately, this meant we had to miss Rajshri departing from her family home alongside her brand-new husband, leaving behind her family with all its associated sadness and tears. I'll be in contact with the professional photographers to obtain a few clippings for my own video compilation.
Although we had a speedy ride on the national highway and only a brief stop for a cup of tea and a samosa, it was pitch dark by the time we reached the dreaded final piece of road. Despite constant, careful, criss-crossing by our driver to avoid the worst potholes of the unlit, unmade surface, it proved a most uncomfortable conclusion to our journey.
However, the day was not yet over...