Monday, June 29, 2009
UP wala thumka lagao...
Someone is getting married in your family? Are you going to attend or have you attended a marriage function soon? I can’t say about other places but the places where I have been, (UP, Bombay, Calcutta), marriages do not seem be culminated well without the craziness at Baaraats. Lavish functions, grand arrangements and just before the final steps, some steps to make the waiting as the longest one. The dancing steps of your near-dear-anyone-everyone.
It’s an obsession to look craziest. It’s energy to perform endlessly. It’s a craze to sweat the most. Or, it’s a mockery for another one being staged to lifelong imprisonment. Whatever it is, it’s a fun to watch, if you are not participating and it’s a platform to get lost completely if you are all geared up.
Just before the onset of Baaraat, all the participants spend hours to look the greatest for the occasion. The preparation for those hours starts months back. Make up, dress up, line up and there the band comes. First few minutes, it’s all band and only the band. Everyone is saving their best dresses; they try to complain for the loudness of the band as well. No one joins and it seems that this time the Baaraat would not turn up as ‘Baaraat’. And then someone, it could be anyone, becomes the leader. He takes the initiative with a few latke-jhatke. He or she ends with the shortest performance. Now the invitation is to all. Join boss!!
It starts with one type of step; latka-jhatka and you have to keep repeating the same latka-jhatka. You change your position; bend a bit, result is still the same step. Be straighten up, same step. Turn, swirl, and take rounds, same step. If you see from a distance you can feel as if some serious emergency has happened in the crowd. Everyone is shaking. A few times it gives a feeling of mild earthquake. The glittering of lights, the loudness of drums, the thud of thumping feet, so many hands upraised, a few drops of sweat passing from one person to other person and sudden shrieks of excitement. All this sums up the drama at the road. More drama can be seen up there at the roof tops. Everyone is out to see the procession going. The drama at the road is completely unaware of their scrutiny by the drama queens at the rooftops. Girls are checking handsome boys, the dancing stars. Boys are again passing their stares to whosoever they can find in the crowd. They don’t bother whom to look, they look at every female. The ladies keep their eyes on jewellery, on sarees and most importantly on Mr Dulha. ‘Who is getting married’ is the big question among them, though they don’t bother to get the answer.
After some time the Baraat is divided into two parts automatically. Boys’ gang is the wild one. They are sometimes sensuous, sometimes too fast and sometimes slow thumkas to imitate girls. Girls’ gang seems to be more mature as they try to follow some style of dancing. They try to follow Rajasthani, Marwari, more group efforts, more organized circles but the end is same. Similar thumkas work everywhere. The equation of the two gangs keep changing and a few members keep switching, resulting cohesion and more dancing-talk among them.
For a few songs you might see a few different steps. The favorite Nagin song is the key appetizer for the main dancers of the gangs. One of the guys sit down at the road, takes out his handkerchief placed specially for the song, waves it like a ‘been’ and tries to tame a snake-cum-human-another fellow obsessive Baarat-wala-thumka specialist partner.
Like so many Indian traditions, we have traditions of typical Baarat songs. 'Aaj mere yaad ki shaadi hai': it’s not surely the marriage of everyone's friend, still the most popular song. 'Ye desh hai veer jawanon ka': i don’t have any clue why they play such a patriotic song for such an auspicious super emotionally excited event of one’s lifetime, but tradition is tradition. I wonder what songs they played in Baarats when these songs were not there, who thought to play these songs for the first time and when such songs became a part of traditions across places. Does anyone know?
The last leg of the Baaraat is the most crucial one. The speed of the procession suddenly drops down to zero just before the main entrance. Everyone gather to show off that this is the time we have to do something. We have to break the rules and show them that we are the ones. Now the two gangs of the Baaraat become one and ‘the rivals for the day’ becomes the gang of girls’ side.
Without caring for the traffic jams, the troubles to the people on roads, the Baaraat ends here with all the paths traveled whatsoever short it was. At the end of it the red kurtas become the maroon ones. The darker shades of clothes get some salty irregular shapes of maps of different countries. The combination of deodorant, sweat, panting and bad breathe of some 100 odd people make it a nauseating environment.
Surely, all this is worth it to the ‘Boy turning Man’, ‘Girl turning Lady’ occasion.
But, I feel,
“Baarats and Baarats everywhere,
Not a single one with a difference…”