Saturday, May 06, 2006

Not my best friend's wedding.

Imagine this, boys and girls. I’m sitting in the front row of the Scout Pavilion auditorium on a Saturday morning. The stage is set for a Pathare Prabhu wedding under the watchful gaze of Sir Robert Baden-Powell, aka the ‘Chief Scout of the World’, and his sister, Agnes. (The Pathare or Pratihara Prabhus, in case you didn’t know, are said to be the progeny of Rajput and Koli or fisher folk confluence. They came to Mumbai probably circa the 12th or 13th century and did their bit for the city. They built the Mahalaxmi Temple, for instance. The groom is a Brahmin, though. This marriage is made in the heaven called the US of A. Only the nuptials are held in India. The rituals on the stage absorb me no end. Equally fascinating is the spectacle of the men folk from the bride’s side dressed like their ancestors in silken achkans and gold-bordered dhotis toting red pagdis (turbans) from Pune and cell phones and video cams from god knows where. But soon my attention wanders as a parallel play debuts without warning around me. Characters from my past hail me and start reminiscing animatedly. Some of them I recognize. Some I don’t. Not my intention to hurt anyone, mind you. It’s just my selective memory’s mischief. One cousin asks me if I remember her. A bit, I say. She questions the ‘bit’ bit. I smile and change the subject. Thank my lucky stars she doesn’t insist on knowing my remembered ‘bit’. My vivid memory of her is overhearing her gossip session with her elder sister and a cousin. They were drooling over Raj Kapoor and lamenting Nargis’s “good fortune”, by the way. P.S.: I found a lot of interesting stuff about the Pathare Prabhus whose number is now said to have been whittled down to 15000 or thereabouts. To know a bit about the marriage (‘lagna’) rituals, do visit

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