Tuesday, October 14, 2008

15. Neer Edpa / Ganga Puja

Bride fetches water from a river or well (or stainless steel barrel)

This ceremony symbolizes the bride's becoming a part of the groom's family and helping in household chores (the groom can only hope at this point). The entire ritual also tests the stamina (and whether she visits the gym to actually work out) of the newly wed bride!
She is then led to the well or river for the 'Ganga Puja' (worship of the sacred river, Ganga) accompanied by the wedding band. Four small pots are kept ready beside the well. The bride draws water from the well and pours it into each of these pots. She then places two pots of water on her head, one on top of the other, on a small circular cushion. Two other ladies (beauteous maidens ripe for matrimony) from the groom's family carry each of the other two pots of water on similar cushions and walk with the bride, one in the front (preferably one who can push and shove) and one at the rear.
This procession is now ready to return to the pandal accompanied by the wedding band playing a slow beat. The bride is supposed to take very small steps ('mangalth mott' or wedding step) to the beat of the music. (Drunken) Members of the groom's family dance in front of her, not allowing her to proceed, thus blocking her path! (This could go on for hours and the bride has been warned that she will be standing with the pot on her head for at least 4 hours. Once this is done, the fun is over, folks, go home.)

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