No matter how excited a bride is for the wedding preparations, about her look, dress etc, vidaai is something that is always on the back of her mind. Same was the case with me, while a lot of my time and energy went into shopping, ceremonies and preparations, a lot of mindspace was also constantly involved in thinking about vidaai, the separation from parental home and what lay ahead. Even though I had a love marriage and I knew my husband from before, it didn’t really seem to help. As the wedding day kept coming closer, I felt compelled to think about vidaai more and more. Thinking about it lead to a lot of apprehension getting built up slowly in my mind and getting stored somewhere each time with new thoughts. Even if I tried to put my mind away from it, several smaller ceremonies like gauri pujan kept bringing the emotional lump back into my throat on the thought of vidaai. It had strangely become a touchy topic.
On the day itself, I was so busy with the madness around me at home that I hardly got time to think about anything. I hated the fact that my parents, the busiest people on earth that day were supposed to fast and that too uptill the pheras which were supposed to happen in the wee hours of the night. How strange can our traditions get sometimes especially for the bride’s side. The clock seemed to be running faster that day and soon it was time for me to go to the parlour and get dressed up. While going I looked back at my house, realizing that it was this moment actually when I was leaving my house officially as a single woman and when I would return after a couple of days for the other ceremonies I would be returning as a married woman. I felt strange and a yearning desire for time to just stop at that very moment. Our minds are tuned to like status quo and that was what was happening to me.
After I reached the wedding venue, I was the star of the night. Everyone poured in to meet me and congratulate, more to check out how I looked than anything else as I waited to make my entry into the venue. My heavy dupatta and lehenga were already bearing down on me and there was no way I could take of the dupatta off my head for even a moment as it was fastened tightly with several pins and clips. I realized that day, that my wedding dress may be the best looking dress but the worst feeling dress that I had ever bought and I wished if I could go back to the same shop to correct what I had purchased! I finally went to the venue and jaimala followed immediately post which there was the photo session with the guests. People kept coming to the stage one by one and our faces got fixated with a plastic smile eventually as we greeted the unknown guests on the stage and got the most boring pictures clicked with them. These pictures seemed more like record keeping of who came to the wedding rather than anything else. It was almost 12 in the night and I could see the guests below the stage eating the sumptuous snacks being served around. But nothing was there for us! How strange! It is right that you only enjoy when you attend other people’s weddings and not your own. Slowly the guests ate their dinners and trickled away and finally we were given the food break. My parents were still missing from that large dinner table as the pheras were yet to happen. My husband and I were expected to eat from the same plate with cameras and all eyes focused on us. Despite being hungry I could hardly eat.
Finally we got a break for sometime before the pheras. It was almost 2 in the night and all I wanted was to sleep and tear off the heavy dupatta from my head. The pheras started after sometime and from that point onwards I was reminded of vidaai again and again. The kanyadaan ceremony is still beyond me to understand where the bride’s parents literally give a daan of their daughter to the groom. Objectification of women at its peak! While I could not imagine being donated (I mean seriously!) but still the moment got tears in my eyes and my mom’s. I heard someone giggling from behind and then someone shutting them up. Lucky them, that they could laugh off this moment and enjoy the hot bonfires in the cool November night. The only good thing about Kanyadaan was that post this my parents finally broke their fast, but the only thing being served at 4 am was coffee! The caterer had wound up everything else by that time. I could have slapped someone for not thinking about this, and I thought that I should have looked into these kind of finer details rather than wasting my time selecting a dress which was weighing me down and making me uncomfortable throughout.
Post this I knew what lay ahead, it was actually the dreadful VIDAAI! Tissues were handed to me in anticipation of what was about to happen. The vidaai tikkas started, where all the elders from the bride’s side bless the couple for their new life. While I was not crying just yet, I could already hear sobs, and these were sobs of aunties who would not really be bothered about me staying with my parents or going. It seemed that just like all traditions, they were doing it because it was supposed to be done. While I had dreaded this moment and had feared breaking down, it all looked very surreal at that time. My tiredness took the better of me and I just wanted all this to end. I started looking at this very objectively all of a sudden where I felt just going away from this venue doesn’t mean anything, what I feel about my parents and what they feel about me is going to remain the same lifelong. Its just that we wont be living together, which even so many men don’t these days. Everyone abroad lives separately.
The Dholwale starting beating their dhol furiously as we stood up to proceed to the car. I was handed over rice which was supposed to be thrown behind over my head without looking back. Rice is the symbol of abundance and goodness and throwing rice behind signified the girl’s wish that her parent’s house always remains full of happiness and joy. My mother spread her pallu behind me to collect the grains . Emotions overflowed through my eyes finally as I thought about the significance of this moment. I hugged my father, who looked stoic but thankfully did not cry. My mother and my sister were tired beyond their limits. I hugged them tightly wishing that we could all go back to the same home together post these celebrations and sleep tightly.
I sat in the car and bid bye to all the close relatives who had taken the pains to sit with us through the night. As the car moved leaving everyone behind that was the moment when I actually realized the weight of the situation when everyone sitting in the car apart from my husband were new to me. I realized what it meant to get married and moving into a new world where I had never even seen the house I was going to.
Women have made this journey again and again over the decades, but what they have felt on their vidaai perhaps continues to remain the same.
What was your vidaai experience?