Are not brides supposed to be shy and overwhelmed by conflicting emotions on the wedding day? There may be many gorgeous girls in their fineries present at a wedding ceremony but the belle is at the centre of attraction. In a Hindu marriage ceremony which is elaborate and colourful, the event is given an extra artistic touch by those who can afford. After all it is an especial day in the life of the girl who is embarking on a new journey of life.
The shyness of girls in this part of the world is inborn but why are they assailed by conflicting emotions? It is because of the thrill, the feeling of romance and uncertainty of the life to be on the one hand, and on the other, the uneasy awareness of pulling off the roots that have so long sustained her to be what she is. On this day, therefore, rosy pictures ---which may turn out to be a chimera for many ---of the future and the happy and joyful memories at her parents' home start cramming her mind to make her confused and sober.
However, life is stranger than fiction in more senses than one. And this is proved by an incident unheard of ---one that defies social and cultural perceptions. An Indian bride has done something no one ever has done before and it is so unimaginable that people are pleasantly surprised. In the wedding pavilion she and her bridegroom sit side by side. But then she turns to another person sitting behind to talk to him. Suddenly she becomes furious with the man and slaps him. Then she starts yelling at the man soon to be her husband and slaps him too.
No one interfered because by this time it was clear why the bride was so angry. The bridegroom was chewing tobacco (gutka) to her intense dislike. He was made to get up and spit out the tobacco from her mouth. He was made a laughing stock there and the guests enjoyed the scene. Whether the marriage was solemnised is however not known. A video of her slapping the bridegroom has gone viral on social media.
Can there be a greater protest against tobacco or other addiction? The bride courageous and righteous has won many hearts. If her marriage breaks down at this stage, it would be a blessing for her. That she cannot tolerate tobacco is clear from the wedding incident. She is the ultimate poster against the pernicious addiction.
Girls are making their protest known but this one was especial. Others before him also made protest of similar nature. One such girl refused to marry her groom until a toilet had not been built in his house. Then another girl broke her marriage when she found the would-be husband arrived drunk and was also chewing tobacco. A Kashmiri girl did not have to do any such thing but what she did is extraordinary and goes against customs and tradition. The Muslim bride, after the marriage, drove a brand new Mahindra Thar with her husband sitting next to her to her father-in-laws' house. The husband, no doubt, approved the non-traditional act.
The Western society may take pride in setting the momentum of women's liberation. But women in this part of the world have a rich legacy of discovering their freedom. Epical female characters have demonstrated their intelligence, courage and resilience. One such character is Chitrangada who defines women's role in clear terms in Rabindranath Thakur's geetinatya or dance drama, bearing the same title. To be left behind undermined she won't tolerate nor would she hanker after worship as offered to gods and goddesses. But there is another iconic character in Maitreyi Devi, second wife of Yajnavalkya, who was second to no man in her philosophical discourse on soul and other religious matters.