One important point that I missed out in my last newsletter was that on the way to the wedding, I learnt that the Adivasis brewed something called ‘Diyang’ or ‘Khasi’ in house. It was a form of rice beer. Being a ‘marriage’ house, there was plenty of it and I, being a brash 19 year old, wanted to try it out. But try as I may, I was never offered a sip, until the last night of my stay there – when one of his cousin sisters gave a about 30 ml of it! It seems his parents had spread the word around that I was from Mumbai and what would my parents think of them if they came to know that I was offered booze there!
Anyway, a few days back, my friend’s second daughter was getting married and we landed at Chaibasa on the ‘Mehendi’ day. After mehendi was applied, suddenly a line of girls and ladies snaked out of the house, dancing. Everybody else joined in and it went on for quite sometime.
On the next day – the ‘reception’ day, four guys landed up early in the morning with four young ‘sagwan’ trees freshly cut from the forest. These were planted upright in boxes filled with sand and cloth tied between them so that it became a small enclosure of around 6 ft sq. with the trees on the four corners. It symbolises the bride’s house and all the ceremonies thenceforth took place inside this enclosure.
My friend had invited about 15 villages and I noticed streams of people arriving at the house. There was a proper store and a storekeeper. The arriving villagers would go to the storekeeper and deposit various items – rice, grains, goats, chicken and money. These were gifts to the marriage house. The storekeeper made meticulous entries of what was received and from whom.
After taking these gifts, the storekeeper would ask them how many people had come – say ’15’. He would then hand over rations – rice, meat, etc, etc, for 15 people. Firewood was also provided. The field next to the house was covered and there were sections allocated (and labelled) for each village. These people would then go there and cook their own food! This was to ensure that nobody complained about the food – quality or quantity!
The bride is given away by the ‘mama’ – mother’s brother, so he is given pride of place. Around noon, the mamas came to the house – again dancing on the roads, the people in the house welcomed them by going out and dancing with them. Traffic stopped for sometime till the whole gang moved into the courtyard and continued the dancing there. Even the mamas were given the rations and were expected to cook their own food! I went and sat with them and at last was offered Khasi in a sort of bowl, which a lady stitched together in front of me from a leaf and thin bamboo slivers.
To be continued……
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When George W. Bush made his one appearance before Indian tribal leaders, they gave him his Indian name—Geh-ton-A-Mish.
He asked one of his aides to find out what the name means in English. The aide came back and said, “It means Walking Eagle.”
Bush said, “Why would they call me Walking Eagle?”
The aide told him, “They said you were so full of s— you can’t fly.”