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Food for Thought

When a couple is united in holy matrimony, it is for their families, friends and well-wishers to bless them and celebrate the occasion in befitting manner. But not just in North India, weddings in other parts of the country including Assam are getting bigger and badder. Maybe TV serials and Bollywood fare have something to do with this trend, but it is a fact that families vie to put on a crass display of wealth. Many a family actually can’t afford to do so, but ‘losing face’ is not an option. Meanwhile some others put on their worst possible behavior — loutish youths in the groom’s party arrive at the marriage venue like an invading army, high on booze, taking liberties with girls and spoiling for a fight. There was a time when the groom’s party would be waylaid by youths from the bride’s party, and good-natured bantering and bargaining would ensue. Witticisms would be exchanged but within limits, and there would be much gentle teasing and laughter on both sides. But aping the high decibel North Indian wedding entrances, groom’s parties in Assam too nowadays cannot do without a fireworks display. Long reels of crackers rock the entire neighborhood, eardrum splitting bombs and rockets are set off — ‘the noisier the better’ seems to be the general idea. No thought is given to possibilities like the wedding pandal catching fire, inflicting burn injuries on guests or passers-by and especially children, or disturbing examinees, elderly people and convalescing patients in the vicinity. There are regulations forbidding such firework displays but enforcing these on people ‘having innocent fun in weddings’ is like belling the cat. Anxious to avoid ‘unnecessary confrontation’, cops usually look the other way. But things can turn out badly, like it did in Ghorathal under Mukalmua police station in Nalbari district recently. Youths outside a marriage venue were setting off firecrackers when a few exploded dangerously close to a nearby resident taking a walk after dinner. When he objected, the youths flew into a rage, dragged him to a naamghar close by and thrashed him black and blue. The stricken man was rushed to hospital, but he expired on the way. Irate people then brought his body back and laid siege to the marriage venue, demanding that the body be cremated right there. In the fracas that followed, the police had to intervene with force. The bride and the groom reportedly passed the night in different police stations for their own safety. It is now being said there was a property feud ongoing between the bride’s family and the victim, but that is beside the point. What it just goes to show is that an auspicious occasion like a wedding can come to grief if those celebrating it forgo basic decorum, decency and good sense.

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