Now that the wedding is all over and done with, it’s time for the bride to bid adieu to her family. Although there is a sense of achievement, satisfaction at having undertaken the most pious of all acts and happiness as she begins a new life, sorrow as she leaves home, perhaps forever, is the overriding emotion at the time of her departure. The bride usually departs home in a flood of tears to the accompaniment of tragic songs and mournful music which would in any case make anyone teary eyed.
The timing of this exit or vidai varies from place to place – straight after the wedding (North India) or a day after the wedding (West Bengal). In the latter case, the groom returns to his bride’s home (alone or with a friend) after completing the wedding rituals. Usually, everyone, including the bride and groom, stay up the whole night chatting, singing and dancing. This enables the groom to bond with his in-laws. In some families, the bride and the groom spend their first night together at the bride’s house. In the morning, after a formal ceremony, the groom’s family arrives to formally take away the newest member of their family (of course their son too).
For the vidai (or goodbye) ceremony, the bride walks ahead and pauses at the doorstep and throws three fistfuls of rice and a few coins over her head, which her mother catches in the free edge of her sari (pallu). The significance of this custom is that the daughter who embodies Devi Lakshmi or the Goddess of Wealth, while leaving her home, ensures that the prosperity and wealth of her paternal home continues to prosper.
In other places (including Bengalis), this ritual symbolizes the bride repaying her parents for all that they have given her so far. This way, debt free she moves on to her new home. This custom, I must confess, I didn’t take very kindly to. In fact, when I was got to know about it (at the time of my vidai) and was told to chant ‘hereby I repay my debt to my parents’ I was aghast. I refused pointblank to repay any of my debts and walked off in a fury of tears.
Once at her in-laws place, the bride is separated from her husband (called kaal ratri or dark night as she is not supposed to see him) presumably to allow them to rest and recover from the hectic activities of the wedding. The following day, there is the Bou-bhat or the reception ceremony after which comes the phool shojja or literally flower bed when the bride and the groom are finally left alone to do as they please.
I suppose it’s time to draw the curtain on this marathon blogging session as well — just two more days to go.
Much like the vidai ceremony, I am more sad than happy…
Quote of the day: “Ends are not bad things, they just mean that something else is about to begin. And there are many things that don’t really end, anyway, they just begin again in a new way. Ends are not bad and many ends aren’t really an ending; some things are never-ending.” ― C. JoyBell C.
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