Thursday, September 21, 2017



                                            (The Bride’s Jewellery )

When Rupawati entered the Baithak or the sitting room, she was happy to see her new daughter in law seated on a raised platform with some pillows on her back. Embracing her affectionately, she kissed her forehead. That made both of them happy. Straightening the sheet underneath before sitting near her daughter in law, she said:

“ Go and stretch your legs. One gets tired by sitting in one posture only. Now, none is expected to come this way. I shall also sleep a while. I feel like taking some rest.”

It was 2 PM. The family had already finished their lunch. No lady from Mohalla was expected now. No relatives were expected at that odd time. Rupawati pulled a pillow towards her and tried to sleep.
She had barely closed her eyes when she heard a knock at the door. It was Sham Rani. She had come to have tea from the new daughter in law ( Nov Nosh ). That was the custom in Kashmiri Pandit families. Every close relation would come to see the new bride and the custom demanded that the guest would have a cup of tea prepared by the new daughter in law. The custom also demanded that the bride would be paid some cash by the guest for this cup of tea.  

 After her marriage, every girl was given a new name in her in-law's house. Accordingly, Rupawati had renamed her daughter in law as “ Lakshmi”. Before her marriage, Lakshmi was known as Asha Koul in her parental home.

 Shaam Rani was the sister of Rupawati ‘s husband affectionately known as Bai Sahib. Bai Sahib or Moti Lal Dhar worked as head clerk in P.W.D. He enjoyed respect and command amongst his relations. Everyone was impressed to see his boss Nazir Sahib ( divisional engineer ) in the marriage of Raja Ji, Moti Lal’s son. Nazir Sahib had even sent his car and driver for three days to Moti Lal Dhar ‘s residence during the marriage days. The family felt grateful for this act.
Coming close to Lakshmi, Shaam Rani kissed her forehead and said :

“ Let you prosper. Let this family flourish with your arrival. ”

 Though relations between Shaam Rani and Rupawati appeared to be good yet some insiders knew it well that they were not so intimate and considerate towards each other. There was some bickering in this relation on account of the marriage of Gaasha or 
Shaam Rani’s son. Shaam Rani believed that Rupawati had been instrumental in conveying some adverse reports to the middle man ( Manzimyor ) about Gaasha as a result of which his marriage proposal with the girl from a wealthy family had frittered away. Shaam Rani had lodged this complaint with her brother Moti Lal as well but he had not dealt the issue on expected lines. He had neither rebuked his wife nor shown much-desired sympathy with his sister. In the alternative, he had told his sister,

“ At the outset, I don’t believe that Rupawati will say so. Isn’t Gaasha a matriculate? Why have you written ‘ B.A. Pass ’ on the marriage proposal document ( Tekini )? “

When Sham Rani heard all this from her brother, she had turned dumb. She had always believed that after the death of her parents, her link with her parental home had been severed by none except Tarawati. She believed that Tarawati had also changed her brother’s behaviour drastically. Now 
Moti Lal openly sided with his wife in any argument. But then she had only one brother. She had no choice but to remain tied to this relationship even if it gave her perpetual annoyance. 

Suddenly Shaam Rani came closer and started the inspection of Lakshmi's jewellery. She touched her earrings, her necklace and the golden bangles. She also took her dangling Dejhurr ( a special gold ornament worn by Kashmiri Pandit women as Mangal-Sutra ) in her hand as if to weigh it. She inspected the Dejhurr carefully and then looked towards Rupawati. Her facial expressions conveyed some surprise.
 At this Rupawati looked towards Lakshmi and said:

“ Get Up and prepare tea for Shaam Rani “

 Freeing herself from Shaam Rani, Lakshmi got up and went downstairs to prepare the tea. Finding that Lakshmi had left the room, Shaam Rani turned to Rupawati and said:

“ You have fallen into filth and garbage with this marriage. Had Kashmir shrunk to just eleven households? But yes, we were told nothing till you fixed up the engagement date. Now all is okay but I find all this jewellery just hollow, lightweight and meant for show off only ( Phokka ). My Daughter in law has brought everything made of heavy and solid gold ( Tokka ). Your son Raja Ji is a jewel. He would have been married to a girl from some wealthy and prosperous family. I believe you have been befooled and trapped. ”

That made Rupawati pensive. She had nothing against Lakshmi. But she also knew that Shaam Rani's observation was bound to disturb her position among her relations and neighbours. She knew that now onwards Sham Rani was not going to remain silent about what she had observed about the ornaments 
of the bride.

 ( Avtar Mota )  



The story is set in Kashmir of 1970  when the old  practice of inspection of jewellery of a bride by  lady relations of her husband continued to exist in bits and pieces in Kashmiri Pandit society. Though the  practice of  dowry demand was almost  negligible in Kashmiri Pandit society, yet the custom  of  inspection of jewellery of the bride by ladies survived till it died its own death. Curious women would put a common question to  the lady who inspected the jewellery first ;

“Kehaai Phokka Chhaa kina Tokka ?


“ Is it Just for show and light weight or Solid and heavy jewellery? ”

  With the  spread of  education and exposure, this practice vanished altogether. 

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CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
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