We continue our journey to the source of the Ganges with our trekking guide. We drive on a mountain road a bit rugged, a little steep, in the foothills of the Himalayas, between Uttarkashi and Gangotri, on the heights where the Ganges has its source. Many times at the side of the road we see parties and buses that carry lots of youth in cheerful mood.
Often, the buses are stuffed and a human cluster is also perched on the roof, clinging to the luggage rack. Our guide says these are for weddings. Why are there so many today? No doubt, he says, astrologers have judged the day to be favorable. Precisely, at the edge of the road, near the Singhani village, the party is in full swing.
We stop and we are invited. The feast began the night before. This marriage takes place in the caste of the warriors which authorizes the consumption of meat but also alcohol. Some participants are a little drunk. The newlyweds, well dressed, sit on chairs. When I arrived the festivities had begun. There were more than hundred people in the course.
People were sitting on the floor sitting on mats. On a platform I saw few men waiting. And on one side, several men were in full discussion, with wads of notes in their hands. At first, I walked from group to group or the guests asked me to take pictures. What is good in India is that I do not have to ask to take pictures of people. It is they who come to me and ask me. Even if I have no desire.
Then after an hour, a man introduced me to his brother. So I found myself on the platform! I am surrounded by people in beautiful dresses, and me in a t-shirt, the same one I had been wearing for a few days already! I wear a jersey like of a football team and pants, backpack and sandals! Most importantly, I find myself talking with one of the newlyweds.
The crazy thing is that he tells me since it is an arranged marriage he does not know his wife at all! He never saw her, or never spoke to her. I am speechless to hear that and ask him a lot of questions. If he is afraid to live all his life with the same person? If he had a girlfriend before the wedding? And he answered quietly. I wondered how it could be possible to be so zen while the rest of his life is played at this moment.
As we waited for his bride, and I was in a state close to syncope, the bridegroom asked me, if I have any adult videos in my phone? What? Have I heard correctly? It is incredible, that the guy asks this to one whom he met the first time! The guy is going to marry a girl he does not know and wonder if I have these videos! Of course, there is a world that separates me from them! The phrase of the century is a moment like this.
Then come the long awaited moment, as the woman go up on the platform with her future husband. I am writing future because the ceremony has not taken place yet. And this moment is still more than surprising. She approach, eyes down, sit next to her future husband without even looking at him. Then she get up and get in front always looking at the ground!
It's crazy that they've been there for 20 minutes! They are getting married, are never seen, and do not look at each other! My emotions are galloping. At this moment, I am no longer a backpacker but a family member, attending the wedding of a loved one. I am the guest of honor!
And the long-awaited moment arrives. The eyes meet for the first time. After half an hour. I'm waiting for a smile! Nothing. The couple take part in the ceremony without any particular emotion. And yet, I must say that I am reassured for my married friend. His wife is beautiful!
The hours pass, and the time of the photos arrive. And guess what? Who is asked to go up on the platform? I find myself in the pictures of the wedding, with the couple and their families! I wonder if there is any hidden camera, and imagine that my parents will come out and go tell me, here is your wife!
Here at the end of the evening while I have been there for several hours, I have eaten countless meals, and drunk many rounds of tea, comes a rather bizarre moment. Finally I say weird because I did not understand. The bride and groom were doing drawings on the floor. It is a moment that I found quite romantic and even sensual, especially since it was not until this moment to see the newlyweds finally smile.
We arrive at a pivotal moment of the day. The bride will soon leave the house of her parents to discover that of the family of her husband where she will live henceforth. The bride also seems a little sad. From time to time, she lets out a small tear. Is it because she will leave the house where she was raised? Or is it because she marries someone she did not choose? How to know? The groom is young and handsome, though.
In Singhani, in the foothills of the Himalayas, we are in the countryside. The most likely is that this marriage has been arranged. This is, according to our guide, an average wedding. The moment we arrive, is a key moment. The bride is soon brought to a palanquin whose curtains are immediately closed.
In the process, her young husband is on another palanquin, open to the eyes. At the entrance of the house, the orchestra redoubles energy to accompany the parade that begins. Soon, the two palanquins move away on the road. Carried on her palanquin with arms of men, the bride will join the house of the parents of her future husband, the one where she will live now!
Upon her arrival, she will meet her mother-in-law as only her father-in-law has come to her parents' home, cousins and other relatives of her husband. Of course, they will make her go around the house, which will be her now. The party will continue. Then there will be, of course, the wedding night.
Meanwhile, in her birth house, a woman collapses in tears. It is the mother of the bride! She loses her daughter. Of course, she will see her again but not right away. In the meantime, the women around her are trying to comfort her. And I hope one day to return to the side and see the bride and groom. And if I find them, I will offer them my photo album of their wedding.