The first bit of the conversation seemed pretty easy going. What time will it start? Who’s going and how are we to get there and find the place? What does it involve? I brought out the photo and two old and one new sari.
I especially chose this picture with Manjula looking absolutely beautiful and wearing her engagement ring and watch. (More stories to be posted about those items!) But for me it’s ensuring her engagement and marriage are prominent.
Manjula’s brother and wife had travelled over three hours to meet to discuss arrangements for next Tuesday the 11th day.
Then it went on a bit and got a bit heated. Who knows? It often sounds like an argument when I listen to Kannada discussions.
The 11th day event they say is likely to cost 40,000 Rs we agreed 20,000 Rs and finally settled on 25,000 Rs. Everything’s a haggle in India!
What quality, which ingredients, how big a cake? Pooja, redecorating, flowers, food tent, a snack or a banquet, non veg obviously! the list of necessary things could be endless.
Of course this isn’t really ultimately about Manjula it’s purpose as a ritual is a community gathering that brings people together. It could be just for immediate family but that’s not really how it’s done.
Brothers wife is the negotiator. Brother just does what he’s told.
I of course want this to happen for Manjula so we’ll go along but we also realise it’s a money grab. This is the wife who wouldn’t feed Manjula properly when she was staying with them twelve years back. It’s her only brother but his phone calls to Manjula were not about brotherly stuff unless you count constantly pleading for money as brotherly love. They were pretty much estranged and it did upset her.
This squabbling reflects some life here Money is pretty much paramount.
Next they want the Mangalsutra.
The neck chain that symbolises that a woman is married. For the event. And each month and for the year after. What about arrangements for the next year. They are relentless.
For example in terms of the Mangal sutra They’ll bwant the gold to sell. I’ll turn up with it on the day and take it back with me.
Wife has clearly come with brother as she’s the toughie.
We’ve agreed the money, I’ve provided the necessary items.
They’ve now turned to, what about her other chain (it’s round my neck) and didn’t she have a bank account (it’s joint with me) or an insurance policy for her nieces. No, no, mo there’s nothing more.
I’m now turning to gain perspectives on this situation. I was brought up Christian but here’s insights into the Hindu approach.