Monday, January 17, 2005

Brides and Prejudice

Sunday Jess and I chilled out, happy to be able to keep down rice and tea. We bopped out with house mama Neeta briefly to shop a sari emporium across the road. You take your shoes off outside the shop and sit cross legged with the ladies inside combing through what seems like hundreds of prints. I got one cheapo synthetic stuff--only Rs. 350, like $7--but in a gorgeous floral red and grey pattern. I also splurged on a deep red chiffon sari which was a whopping $23, plus tailoring for the requisite petticoat (cotton slip) and blouse you wear underneath. Women in Neeta's caste, the ruling Rajputs, wear only chiffon and silks.

Today I was meant to teach my first Class 12s, but upon arrival in the village it turned out the entire class (of three girls) was absent. Two were at a wedding and one had was home with a headache, I was told by a lovely girl named Padaba, who herself was a newlywed. I was congratulating her when what should we see but a wedding procession coming towards a small temple in the center of the village. They were more interested in asking my name and country than this ceremony, which makes sense when I heard that weddings here go on for five days. I got just a glimpse of the traditional Rajasthani wedding getup when I was ushered inside Padaba's home to watch--guess what?--her wedding tape. In this tiny home she has a TV and DVD player next to a small fridge in her maybe 4x6 bedroom. Since the van wasn't returning for me for hours, I settled in, but the scene outside, mirrored on the screen, haunted me somewhat.

It was a double wedding--two brothers from the village were marrying two sisters from another. The boys stood tall and slim, with towering headscarves, looking young for 22 and 26. Each of their hands were bound together, and linked with a pink scarf to their bride's, also bound. The women were draped in layers of bright red saris, faces totally covered in red and gold scarves, so I couldn't begin to see their faces. They were hunched way, way over, shuffling 1 inch behind their new husbands. As a westerner I have to admit it looked like they were being literally dragged into slavery. This is all totally scripted, they aren't supposed to look happy to marry and have the babies of men they've never met (really all marriages here are arranged, most blind).

Well, I'm told the wedding season has just started, so hopefully I'll get some kind of clue what this all is about.


Post a Comment

<< Home