Sunday, February 12, 2012

Shivji bihane chale

Recall the old song describing the marriage of Lord Shiva: Shivji bihane chale, palaki sajayi ke, babhuti lagai ke… Well, something of that order is still practiced in the hills of Himachal Pradesh. Inspired by the most celebrated couple of Hindu mythology, the love saga of Shiv-Parvati forms a part and parcel of the marriages in the Gaddi community, popular as ‘Shiv Vivahs’.
Welcome to Kangra-Bharmour, where lines between mythology and traditions get blurred and marriage becomes an elaborate affair. Whenever there is a marriage, the groom has to take a matrimonial test, wherein he takes the guise of Lord Shiva by rubbing ash all over his body.
His sisters, brothers and sister-in-laws try to convince him by highlighting the benefits of a marriage so that he gives up his ascetic lifestyle he plans to lead like that of Lord Shiva.“The boy says that he am a yogi, who lives in the Himalyas and cannot get married. His family and relatives beat him with plants even as he makes circles in the backyard. The third round is the most crucial. If the spirit of lord Shiva persists, the boys runs to a Shiv temple, choosing to become a jogi and it is believed that Shiv’s will has taken over him,” says Joginder Charak, a resident of Nagri in Palampur.
This year itself, there were reports of two such cases _ in Jia and Khamiwal _ where the would-be-grooms fled from the ceremony, rejecting the institution of marriage. If the comes out of Shivji’s ‘awe’ he gets ready to take a barat to the girl’s house and the marriage is officially on. If due to any eventuality, the groom is unable to accompany the barat, a katara (sharp-edged weapon) is sent as his representative and the bride takes pheras with it and stays with it till she is handed over to the groom, says Kul Prakash, a resident of Chamba district.
“For the gaddi community, Shiv-Parvati are the ideal couple personified and that is why the entire marriage ceremony is performed the way Lord Shiva is known to have gone about his marriage in the Vedas,’ he adds. In the olden times the marriage used to go on for days and the baraat is served with meat and hooch. There was also a practice to marry off two sisters on the same day. But with life becoming much faster, many practices have been done away with. “Earlier, the boy and girls were married in their teens and the marriage ceremony was virtually performed all over again when they were brought together on attaining adulthood. But this has stopped now,’ adds M.R.Dalel, a resident of Bharmour.
When the barat finally comes back, a ‘nuwala’, Lord Shiva’s worship is organised by the groom’s family and relatives and friends converge to have another round of festivities. A large section of the gaddi community continue to be deep rooted in their age-old traditions and this form of elaborate ‘Shiv Vivah’ or ‘Gaddi Vivah’ is still prevalent in district Kangra and Chamba, especially bharmour, Banikhet, Tisa and Dalhousie.