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Baraati Procession

The marriage possession, locally known as “Baraati” consisted of 50 odd young and middle-aged drunk men, dancing to the karaoke of famous sambalpuri songs, orchestrated by a handful of band party members dressed in white dhoti and orange-yellow kurtas. Behind this rude and unceremoniously joyful pack, a compact car was crawling at the speed of a lazy cow. The bridegroom along with few small kids of bossy relatives was sitting inside all strained up, probably wondering why they’re moving so slow. The bride and her family will be waiting.

“Jaldi Chala Ho (Hurry up)” screamed the groom to his acquaintances who were creeping behind the sound-system.

A wasted friend of the groom recognized the voice and answered “Ahuri Naachma Bo (Come, Join us) and 2 more guys accompanied the drunk to pull out the groom from his nest and carried him on their shoulders. The groom couldn’t stop smiling. Who doesn’t love such attention? Especially on the wedding day?

A large crowd comprising of all ages, sexes and castes were staring at the movement with rapt attention forming a track of 2 columns, not longer than 0.5km, between which the procession was advancing. The kids were at the front with their grandmothers holding their hands admiring the music. The married women were, peeping from their windows of door-creaks, under their veils. Few adolescents were standing in groups admiring the jolly crowd and fantasizing about their own weddings. The men of the families appeared least interested, having attended thousands of such processions. Still, they couldn’t hold themselves moving their feet as a mark of their delectation.

An hour later, the assemblage finally arrived the venue of the wedding – the house of the bride, Bulbuli. The guys carrying the groom reached first and landed the VVIP of the function on the ground safely. After which, they both joined their rowdy gathering at the rear to dance their heart out before the band party dissolves. The groom, escorted by his father and uncles and cousins was receiving a warm welcome from the bride’s mother and aunts and cousins. There was a lot of ritual howling and face-massage with tree leaves (commonly called ‘gaal-seka’). Soon, the groom was shown inside to the bedi (the rectangular slab on which the ceremony takes place) and the assemblage outside was cleared off.

Last week, I had this opportunity to visit a rural village, goes by the name of “Bidmal” to attend the marriage ceremony of Bulbuli, Malli’s daughter. It’s a matter of import to note that Malli is my family’s ‘domestic help’ since past 4 decades! My grandfather, Panchanan Barpanda used to be an illustrious and influential person in the small town of Brajrajnagar during the famed times of Orient Paper Mill (O.P.M). It was during the late half of 20th century, particularly in the 1970-80s. It was he, who brought many families from his ancestral village to the burgeoning industrial hub of western Odisha. One such family belonged to late Parameshwar Rout, the husband of Malli. As a newly married, Malli was stationed at M.S. line, the abode of Barpanda family during those times. She gave birth to her eldest and only son, Narahari (name rendered by none other than my Grandpa) at the same habitation. Later on, when my father took reins of the Barpanda family (post O.P.M.), Malli’s eldest daughter, Paro acted as my ayah and Narahari as father’s assistant. It was in the late 1990s. Bulbuli is the 3rd child of Malli.