A Reporter in a Marriage Ceremony

Falgun 7 [19 Feb] was a day that I will not forget. I didn’t get the Kantipur excellence award that Kantipur Publications, where I work as a reporter for Kantipur daily, gives to best the reporters/staffs of the year in different categories on the anniversary day. I wasn’t in the first part of the ceremony, held in Kantipur Complex, just like four years ago when I was actually awarded. Last time, I was watching cricket, and this time I was busy in the marriage ceremony of Achyut Ghimire, my uncle whom I grew up with. I was taking part in a marriage ceremony after so many years. I don’t remember the last one. Realizing nothing else to do in the bihe, I quickly took out my camera and started working as a freelance photographer. There were ‘official’ photographers and videographers for the ceremony but how could I, a reporter who carries camera 24/7 with him, miss taking a few snaps. As I was taking photos, and occasionally interacting with relatives whom I hadn’t seen for years, I noticed something very interesting in the Jagge (the place where bride and groom perform all rituals as priests chant mantras.)

My article in front of Behuli

There was a piece of paper, only one in the whole premise, near to where Behuli (bride) was seated. The paper was used to cover something. That was a piece from a newspaper. A headline screamed on the facing side: “Oie Baby, Oie Mama!” Yes, the paper was part of the LAST page of KANTIPUR daily of Falgun 6 featuring MY article about the Ozomatli concert in Kathmandu the other day. [There was that day’s edition of Kantipur doing rounds among people and the last page of the Special Supplement carried by article about Women in IT. But that wasn’t as interesting as this one because it’s not unusual for people to carry day’s edition of Kantipur]. But the coincidence of the piece of paper definitely reminded me about myself and my identity: A reporter even in a marriage ceremony of a relative. The major difference between this and many other ceremonies that I attend was that I wasn’t there to report the event. But the coincidence was striking. No other newspapers, no other pages, no other side of the last page (sports page), no other reporting in the last page but mine and no uncredited story that I wrote on the on the last page but the one that carried my byline.

Behula and Behuli

The marriage ceremony was big (it’s all relative though) and I met many relatives (distant and near ones) whom I hadn’t seen for years. I was the only bearded person in the ceremony though seeing Ramchandra Khadka, Ramechhap district president of Nepali Congress in Ramechhap was a solace. So there were two bearded persons in the ceremony. “It’s really nice to have a bearded person in the ceremony,” I said, shaking hands with Khadka. “Now I don’t feel alone.” The teacher-turned-politician instantly replied, “Well, it’s not unusual to share beards for persons like us who share ideologies and respect each other.”

Siundho ma sindur

I also had to respond about my own marriage as people came up with barrage of questions like “Now that your uncle has married, when will you?” I just hated the question and frowned upon the people with that question! My dismissing reply was, “I was planning to marry today but unfortunately woke up late in the morning.” I think that, and my beards and my outlook, helped turn away many faces. [Actually I had to wake up early that morning, thanks to Email who worked as a human alarm clock for me. I was damn tired because I had gone to bed at around 2 AM as I was blogging on Gyanendra’s democracy day statement and doing other stuff and had to wake up at 7 AM. Impossible for me in a normal day but I couldn’t really say “no, go away” to Email that morning.] I talked about the lavishness (though it was nothing compared to many other big marriage ceremonies about which we read in newspapers and blogs) and the discrimination the tradition does against the girl. Why does the behuli have to bow to the feet of the behulo? “This really sucks,” I told a few people who I was chatting with. And what is this “kanyadaan” thing? I am not a feminist but I dislike the idea of “donating” the kanya (the girl) to the groom as if the girl was an object. Many people told me that since it was tradition, they have to follow. I was like hell with your tradition that is so much discriminatory.

So that was the day that was. I will not forget. And I will certainly never forget the next day: Falgun 8. For all great and sweet reasons that I decide not to write here. That was the D-Day! But then, as someone just told me, every day is a D Day!!

By the way, I need some ideas for newspaper stories. Anyone, who is happening to read this by any chance, please suggest me some!