I came across some girls pondering over the “kaleeras” in a shop and making a choice from the many designers kaleeras displayed on the counter. I was curios to know how would they make a sound choice and what factors would help them make a choice. Their focus, as usual, was on the glitter and the shine, though artificial. added to the Kaleeras as one of them, perhaps more experienced, preferring one over the others, commented, ” this one would look so good in the photographs as it has the same shade as of your wedding lehnga”. 🙂 I was sad to notice that everything concerned with a marriage ritual has come to be appreciated only on the basis of its utility in the photographs. And why should it not be as the Photographs make way for the Facebook where the friends post “likes” or comments like awesome, wow. beautiful, nice ….etc. etc. Who cares for what these “kaleeras” are and why are they made, why are they tied to the wrist of the bride by all the relatives and especially how are they made. The culture of easily available ready made marriage items in the market has drifted the youngster miles away from the ritual and significance of, each and every, marriage ceremony.Have you ever wondered how much of love and care goes into the making of, seemingly insignificant, paraphernalia connected with the Hindu marriage ceremonies that have, sadly, become a “old fashioned” rituals for the youngsters? And the picture of my petite and slim daughter carrying the weight of Kaleera with the help of her Mami and brother made me think of another angle of the logic behind kaleeras. It is, perhaps, symbolic of the load that a young girl would have to carry throughout her life when she has to be a mother and a caretaker of the family! “Kaleera” which is a must have for a bride in Himachal, make s bride look complete.
The basic material needed for a kaleera are good quality and shapely coconuts, some full and a few cut to halves in the shape of a bowl. The red Mauli ( cotton thread colored red on an auspicious day), Kaudis (natural shells with a hole made) and a few colorful pieces of cloths, and of course a sturdy big needle!
Holes are made in the big round coconut shell one at the bottom, one at the top and four on all four sides of the coconut. The mauli thread is passed through these holes and then the experienced hands start putting the shells and plaiting the three portions of the mauli in the fashion of a plait! In between the square colorful silk or cotton pieces, folded in a cylindrical shape, are woven during the plaiting to add color to the kaleera.The four holes on all four sides have the half coconut pieces held by the woven mauli in the similar manner.
It is time consuming exercise but all the time spent in the making of the kaleera is the time when you are mentally focusing on the marriage of your daughter, your love and blessings get woven along with the shells and small pieces of cloths in the kaleera. It is something which is love personified in a simple manner.
I watched with love how KS my husband would also help us in making kaleeras. For the wedding of my eldest daughter, “Project kaleera” was an activity where all the members of the family contributed their mite!
I asked an elderly woman about the utility of kaleera and her reply was that the brides in olden days could munch the coconut to drive away the pangs of hunger as the new bride was not allowed to eat anything cooked in her new home till she had worshiped the source of water and the Peepal tree. After the marriage the sisters and Bua’s of the bridegroom would share all the kaleera that the new bride would bring to the family.
But these days every ritual has become a mock exercise and so have become the kaleeras of yesteryear, the mock kaleeras!