Saturday, 5 March 2016

Shaadi nights

India loves its weddings.  The bigger, the grander, the better.

Our campus is an ocean of tranquility.  11 acres shared between the Harriet Benson Memorial Hospital and the RE Mission school.  Trees, birds, the odd mongoose.  A small Eden.  Most of the days we have a steady back ground of birdsong.

And then night falls.

It's wedding season in Lalitpur.  And that means plenty of SOUND.

The big day needs to be celebrated in a big way.

Your party of dancers may be 40 odd folks gyrating to the latest Bollywood tunes (but then again I seem to be hearing that horrid chestnut of 'bollo ta-ra-ra' all too often).  But the sound needs to be boss.

And to help you with this, the local wedding bands offer you (for a hefty price of course - but hey - you only get your darling beta married once) the complete package:  a royal chariot (either a real carriage with horse, or a jeep with a fantasy chassis for the groom to ride in, a long line of lights - carried by folks (mostly on the skinnier and smaller body stature side), and a huge bank of speakers which the DJ on hire uses as a sonic assault machine - here usually arrayed on another jeep.  And of course a portable diesel generator set to produce the healthy amount of electricity needed to illuminate and amplify the procession far and wide.

Here is what it looks like (you will have to imagine the sound effects of course):

The darkness of the Lalitpur night (yes you can see stars here) gives way to light as the procession nears...

Note the diesel generator on the hood of the jeep.  It's completely silent (because of the wall of sound produced by the LOUD speakers are more than sufficient to hide the chugging gen-set).

As the procession inches forward, traffic flows by as well.   We are very much a 'two-wheeler' town here - and so motorbikes and scooters ooze past the dancers and two rows of mobile-light-carriers.

The cynosure of all eyes is of course - the bride groom himself.

Sometimes he rides a horse on his special day.  This group had a carriage for him - with the modern twist of strip lighting to highlight his chariot.

He also seems to have three cousins along for the ride - at leas for part of it.

We are told in the village that there are elaborate 'dramas' when the 'girl' is brought to the wedding site.  There are groups of people who 'demand money' and 'argue' that they will not give their daughter for any price - and then the sides act out various honour dramas to have the girl brought into the family.

But that is for another day.  We have had the groomal procession (a.k.a. baraat) pass by in all its splendour and generosity of sound and light.

Off they go into the night.  The ladies carrying the lights are silent walking sentinels of dignity in an ocean of sound.  Poverty and opportunity are strange bedfellows.

Needless to say - we get our earful each evening.  And not only because of the processions passing along on the road outside.  Behind the HBM Hospital campus is the Rim-Jhim marriage garden. They too are generous with their music.  And an unknown marriage centre is somewhere off in the darkness on the other side of the campus.

Good thing the birds are asleep when darkness falls.

Happy marriage season to all and sundry!

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