There were around twenty or so ladies standing around me and most of them singing. I could have counted around sixty familiar faces watching me go through the Oonjal part of the 90 minute Muhurtham procedures. These were faces I had grown up seeing. The people the faces belonged to, their personalities and their association with me had been part of my life's infrastructure.
[ During the Oonjal, the Bride sitting on her maternal uncle's shoulders tries to put garland over the Groom, who inturn is sitting on his maternal uncle's shoulders, as he playfully moves away from her. I personally loved this photo because of the smiling faces surrounding us ]
Before I set out on the Kasi Yatrai ( which is where I am supposed to renounce my car, stereo system, TV, amazing CD collection and other wordly things and set out to lead life as a hermit) the bride's mother was supposed to put that mascara thing on my eye. This led to some really funny scenes. My eyes are.. lets say... "rather" small and I am extremely sensitive in the eye area and tend open and close it wildly when doctors try to come near it. So the poor lady ( who was already a little shaken by the way my relatives were laughing and whistling) repeatedly tried to get her hand close to my eye and I kept pushing her away and kept looking the other way. Finally she locked on the target ( and some surrounding areas) and applied the payload. I then set out on the Kasi Yatrai and thankfully my Father-in-law dissuaded me from going. He struck a deal that he would marry his daughter to me, if I chose to be a non-hermit (non-sanyasi). I said " oh! Well! Why not? " :-). Many people thought he was out of his mind to call me back. I let out a sigh of relief. Have never been to Kasi and don't know what entertaintment sanyasi's get. I love my stereo system so much
This was the occasion, where at the end of this Oonjal Phase, the bride is asked to hold all the fingers of her right hand together and make them face upward. The groom then wraps his right hand around her fingers and leads her to the marriage hall for the more important marriage formalities. This is "supposed" to be the first time the groom touches the bride.
As I was taking her back into the marriage hall, I looked at the road, where buses cars and cycles were speeding. Some people were looking at the occasion and talking to themselves, some in the bus gave a non-chalant look and went about reading their books etc. This is a big Highway where I travelled for 3 years until high school. I have seen this exact Oonjal moment during marriages hundreds of times. Many times, I didnt even give a second look. I was rushing for my mid-terms, half-yearly and public exams or at least had some record notebook to fill. I suppose at any given time, life could mean different things to different people. One day you are crying nusiance kid to your parents and one day you are the main guy, the groom and their darling. One day a person could be a failure whom nobody wants to talk to and some day he could be too busy to even watch a wedding from the road. people go through different states over time, much like the circles in a state machine diagram. I smiled to myself at the the prospect of some tuition going kid rushing for his class in a bus and non-chalantly dismissing my marriage as a noisy distraction. Next time I'll remember to stop and watch a wedding, just to remember, how I felt when my turn came.