With love to all daughters…

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!

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Hindu Marriage Ceremonies: Invaded by Photographers

We are by nature easy-going persons and not very meticulous planners. This attitude reflected during the first marriage in our family when we regretted having overlooked many a details. During the marriage of my eldest daughter in February 2006, we came across many a situation where we seriously thought, “Oh, we should have taken care of this.”

One such situation was that we were not able to find a good photographer for her marriage as it literally over slipped our mind that we need one at Palampur. The local photographer at Hamirpur showed his inability to escort us to Palampur as he had planned to cover so many marriages on the same date.  So we had to take a last minute decision and that was to use the handy camcorder for video recording and to use our newly acquired Sony digital cam for still photography. As it was the first marriage in the family and also because we had to manage everything on our own at a new place, it was decided that pictures would be shot by whosoever would be free at that moment. I have been feeling guilty for not having a professional photographer at the marriage of my eldest daughter. But the recent marriage season has made be healthier (by eating free food), less wealthy (by gifting a lot) and wiser by learning a lesson or two.

Having watched closely the nosey interference of the professional photographers at marriage ceremonies and having seen the marriage ceremonies taking place at the sole direction of the photographer, I no more feel guilty that we didn’t have a professional photographer at the marriage of our daughter.

The pictures we have clicked are light years more authentic and real as compared to the make-believe pictures taken by the so-called professionals! As there was no outsider photographer to record moments, the marriage ceremony was conducted in a homely ambience where only relatives and friends gave us company. Later looking at the pictures I find how original and how spontaneous they are. My son did a wonderful job clicking the right photograph at the right moment. But being a naughty child he had captured some such moments which I would have kept a well-hidden secret from the outsiders! J

Looking in retrospect and at the positive outcome of not having a photographer I am glad that we didn’t have to dance to the tunes of a photographer and the marriage of our daughter remained a family affair the way marriages should be! There was no taking direction from the photographer to move this way or that way, to smile while looking at the lenses of the camera when the occasion was solemn and personal! Some of the best pictures are before the marriage ceremony. They are wonderful indeed as my son used to capture some very interesting pictures that show the real situations in a family where the marriage of the daughter is at hand! Some are really hilarious!