Honeymoon (Based on a true story)
It can happen only in an Indian family and there again only in a family where the bond of love between the member relatives is so strong that they are virtually inseparable. Joint family system of the Indians is as old as the civilization itself and it has served to keep the socio-economic structure in a healthy state. At times, though, psycho-socio effects of the system drives the wits out of the most educated and informed persons.
In a joint family system everything is done jointly. Benefits, work, responsibilities and enjoyment are shared proportionately amongst the members according to their age, gender, education and relation. Everybody participates in moments of joys and sorrows. The total and absolute power and responsibility to keep the wheels of the joint family organization moving smoothly rests with the head of the family. Smarter the man more smoothly and prosperously the organization functions. He plans and executes every important event in the family with great deliberation and consultation. All this is done to the limit such that in the present day thinking of nuclear families it borders on invasion of privacy of some members of the family. In some cases there is no intimate privacy even for a husband and wife relation. It no doubt sometimes creates an unpleasant situation and at times laughable also.
So it happened when Reena Chhotalal Virani was engaged to Shrutarth Pritamdas Kakkad. The two days of marriage were organized lavishly at the house of Reena’s father. Nothing was spared in terms of entertainment, comfort, delicious meals, breakfast, etc. This was a special occasion of joining two families by the thread of new relationship being established between Shrutarth and Reena, To celebrate this new relationship gifts were being given around to the members of both the families. Unfortunately as the custom is the total burden of ‘giving gifts’ lay on the shoulders of bride’s father Chhotalal Virani. Shrutarth’s father was on the ‘receiving gifts’ side of this custom.
After agreeing what should be given to each of the members of the family somebody raised the question ‘what about honeymoon?’
Now, we did have a celebration of ‘Suhaag Raat’ for which normally one of the rooms in the house was decorated for the newly weds to spend their first night together. But ‘Honeymoon’ is brought in from the western culture. So there was a lot of discussion between the heads of both the families. Finally, Reena’s father came up with an unique plan for the honeymoon for Shrutarth and Reena. Mind you the parents decide everything. There is no need to ask Shrutarth and Reena.
Three days after the wedding, when all the ‘post-wedding’ ceremonies were completed, a Mercedez sleeper coach, elegantly decorated with yellow and red flowers, and pink and green ribbons, arrived in front of the house of Pritamdas. The destination board on the bus said ‘Honey Moon’ in florescent rainbow colours. There were eight double bed cabins and eight single bed cabins in the coach. The bus was welcomed by Pritamdas Kakkad and his family. A band was playing the merry tunes. Beautifully dressed young girls carrying water pots on their heads stood in front of the bus while a priest blessed it. The wheel of the bus was rolled a little to break a coconut.
In the bus the front twelve births were to be occupied by men which included Shrutarth, his brother, his father, uncles, cousins, the best man, Reena’s father, brother, uncle, cousin etc. The rear twelve births were occupied by ladies including Reena, her mother, sisters, aunts cousins, Shrutarth’s mother, and his aunt, cousin etc.
After dinner the bus departed late at nigh with big fan-fair and fireworks. Both sides of the street were lined up with people curiously watching this unique and very special bus, kind of which they had never seen before.
The bus arrived at Ambaji in the early hours of the next day. Four rooms were reserved in advance in the Annapurna Dharamshala close to the temple. (Dharamshala is a free accommodation managed by a charitable trust. This particular Dharamshala was established around 12th century by the famous Vastupal-Tejpal brothers, It was renovated and modernized with present day comforts.). Two rooms were for gents and two rooms for the ladies.
Shrutarth and Reena performed the pooja, Twelve Brahmins were chanting for about an hour the slokas and mantras of blessing the couple. There was a big feast. The alms were distributed to the Brahmins and the poor baggers who gathered at such places. For the town as well as to the pujari and Brahmins serving the temple this ‘Honeymoon Pooja’ was a real novelty of the new millennium.
After dinner, at late night the bus departed to return back home. Everybody had enjoyed and said, ‘What a lovely honeymoon !!!’
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