It was at the end of February in 2009 when I was about going home from Nagpur to Münich. My spirit was still on high because I had just left behind the Orange city, (Nagpur is located in central India and it is the largest orange-growing town) and my soul was still lingering somewhere there so that I didn’t perceive when my airplane landed at London Heathrow. But when I heard the announcement of my flight attendant ’s that unfortunatelly the Munich flight had been cancelled due to the not predictable lava ashes, I fell down immediately to the real world. I was busy dialling my husband’s in order to inform him about the changing of my arrival, when a pleasant-faced, young Indian woman approached me in a turquoise sari and in a sneakers with a short overcoat. -Is this seat taken?-she asked me in English politely. When I replied-no-she sat down. After a few formal phrasis such as -how terrible that we were captivated by the lava ashes and so on I had learned that she was supposed to fly to Munich as well in order to reunite her husband. What a coincident!- I exclaimed with a surprize- I am also heading for Munich. She cheered up hearing that. Then when word followed by word, it turned out that she had just married a month ago. The wedding took place in Nagpur, but because her husband had already been worked for three years in a neurological research institute in Munich, after the marriage he had to return immediately. Unfortunately she couldn’t fly with him because to obtain the visa and other papers it needed a longer time. Otherwise, she was full of anxiety, because it was her first flying experience ever. -I can not wait to see my husband but I am detained by the lava ashes-she whispered with a bleak smile on her face. -I am so sorry-I told her in order to express my sympathy- that’s right you are supposed to be in your honeymoon!- Then partly because I wanted to divert her attention of her self-pity and partly because I was really interested in the way of the Indian marriages I asked her to tell how she met her husband. Her face relighted immediately like a bulb in the socket. It was overly an interesting topic because before about Indian marriage I had only informations like ( I mean before the computer time) young couples contacted through a matchmaker who arranged their marriages. I have always found a bit bizarre when I read that matchmakers were even taken breath samples from the couples (after they licked her hand and she sniffed the smell then she could establish whether they become or meant to each other), in order to be sure on that that they will make a perfect match in every aspect. -„You know today the young Indian people find each other on the Internet”-enlightened Bharti (that was her name) to me, we have a special website where everyone can look for a partner. When someone finds a sympathetic man or woman, parents are asked to go to the chosen family. Then they discuss important issues such as financial situations of the families, compare the nubile’s school degrees, or which caste they belong to, mainly because the country still cling weddings belong to the same caste.
It was 28 of February, and Bharti met her husband first time in mid of January! Oh my God! You had a really ephemeral engagement!-I exclaimed.-It was!-replied Bharti with a smile and then continued her story-but you know inspite of the haste we were well aware of that that the marriage means tying the knot forever! Divorce doesn’t exist in India.- Going to get married before we met only three times, with our future husband? I don’t think so it would work in Europa! But there is no accounting for tastes! And Bharti continued – The first time we met was at my parental house, a second time at an expert’s whom she made our horoscopes, which convinced us that we would fit together (the husband of agricultural graduates, and she studied pharmacy and was a chemistry teacher in a high school). Then we had a nice talk of the significance of marriage-leaded by our parents who told us that the most important in a marriage to choose the right partner because marriage is for life. -And what if the love is gone in a few years? I interrupted Bharti. -I don’t think so- she replied, -because later, love becomes intimate relationship-. Then the marriage is rather a business than love!- I fully disagree- answered Bharti, -because I am absolutely positive on that that parents know what is good for us.- And then Bharti went on:- You know, before our marriage my husband and I had a face to face talk, about what would be our needs, on what way we would like to live. She also revealed that that according to the Hindu religion, sex before marriage is forbidden for men and women as well (Oh my God then the Kama Sutra is thoroughly misunderstood in Europe). Finally, the third meeting was the marriage.
By this time our conversation was interrupted by the loudspeaker, but when we heard that our flight likely won’t take off in the following few hours, we carried on our conversation in a little cafe nearby. Thus we had more time for getting known each other better and Bharti had the opportunity to show some photos of her wedding but what I was really fascinated by it was a cushion on which the image of the young couple was pressed. I had to admit that in her red sari Bharti was a gorgeous, beautiful bride, she really looked like a Bollywood star. Then she recalled her wedding day, when her mother and her girlfriends attired her, decorated her hair with flowers, put lots of jewelry on her arm, neck. They were motifs painted on her face, hands, feet with henna, which is according to the Hindi religion protects them from any adverse effect. Then on the next photo I recognized the veiled Bharti, who was walking- escorted by her parents up to a huge bonfire where his future husband-the groom was waiting for her. Then the father „gave” the bride to the husband, indicating that for that very moment he will be responsible for his daughter. Her mother took a bowl from which she threw some grain toward the flames.- It helps to become a good wife- added Bharti as an explanation. On the following picture I saw Bharti’s husband who painted a red line into his wife’s hair parting, this meant that finally Bharti became his. “This is the sindur. -said Bharti (when someone is engaged she has a Bindi on her forehead, a red painted dot, which means the girl has been taken. Sindur means the woman is married). (I guess there is no cheating and no divorce, because a women with sindur is considered taboo for every man!)
The next picture showed when the couple placed seeds and fruits on the sacrificial fire, to obtain the blessing of Krisna of the marriage and the spiritual life, being supportive of each other, avoid diseases, etc. -said Bharti. After the fire ceremony the feast had began. There were plenty of colourful plates, piles of spicy dishes typical samples of the Saoji kitchen, even though it is very spicy does not cause any health problems-assured me Bharti-. But I couldn’t go along with her because once I went through in an indigestion from a Tikka Massala and I was so sick almost ended up in a hospital and by the way at that moment I could not wait longer to eat European dishes again, it was same feeling when I returned from Japan.
-And what will you going to do in Munich?- I asked her curiously. -Certainly I would like to work but before-I will try to be a virtuous wife, I will not provoke my husband, I won’t use too much perfume, and if my behavior is correct, my husband’s mind will stay sharp and relaxed and I am sure the marriage will be as spiritual connection as sexual.- I was totally captivated by the purity of her vows, but before I had time to compare to the European principles of marriage, the loudspeaker called us and announced that, we could begin boarding. We quickly switched e-mail addresses and promised to meet again in Munich!
To be continued
Because Nagpur is located near to Cobra River and belongs to Vidharbha region where there is a particular cuisine called the saoji kitchen. The typical food spices are black pepper, coriander, bay, gray cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, poppy seeds, soy and coconut fillings. The non-vegetarian main dishes are made of chicken and lamb, but in order to get enough protein the vegetarians consume Paneer which is a kind of lactovegan cheese (milk boiled and eaten with a mixture of lemon juice).