Jalsa, Mumbai Dec 6, 2013 Fri 11 : 21 pm
Nelson Mandela , Madiba as he was fondly called, passes away and a historic chapter of the universe concludes ..
I am so privileged and honoured to have spent time with him on two occasions during my visits to South Africa, to have been in the company of his aura, his majestic eminence and his utmost humility ..
I have stories of those associations, I have visited his cell on Robben Island his place of captivity, I have walked into those galleries through which he spent his 27 years of imprisonment, sat in that courtyard in the jail where the prisoners were allowed to spend limited time and have picked up the stones where he was made to work in the blistering heat … and have come back shaken at the misery he went through ..
Equally then have I admired his spirit, his will and his determination to fight for the rights of humanity, in a world stricken so obtusely by the horrors of apartheid.
The first ever Concert to have been given permission to perform in South Africa was the one I took in 1990, just moments after his release from jail. It was him and his ANC that agreed that the concert could be held - the boycott from all countries that did not believe and opposed apartheid, had prevented and rightly so, the entry of any such events from nations that were anti apartheid.
But all of that in greater detail and the two meetings … later ..
Bhopal and the ceremony of the wedding came to a conclusion this morning. The bride came ‘home’, the rituals followed, the ‘bau-bhaat’, a ceremony of the first meal to be cooked by the daughter in law, the fun and intimate games played by the bride and groom as the family looks on in song and dance … always such a lovely moment to see the bonding of not just the two just marrieds but the camaraderie of two entire families joining hands and coming together as one.
Suddenly … the little girl brought into this world, grows up in her home and among her parents, gets shifted to another home and another family which she now calls hers. Her priorities and her attentions now shifting to her new home.
What a huge sacrifice for the woman. Yet a social necessity in the world we live in.
Some traditions still ail our lives and become the cause for unethical strands of behaviour in marriages … the practices of ‘dahej’ … dowry ! This abhorred practice, that has been the reason for such pain and discomfort for the girls’ parents.
Many are the cases of massive loans and credits being taken just so the girl can be accepted in marriage. The extreme irony of the Father of the bride, who goes through so much personal humiliation at times, just so he can send off his own daughter to her husband.
It has always pained me and made me shed immense amount of tears whenever I have been confronted with moments such as this in reality or story or in example.
Yet there are some examples of great fortitude too …
The refusal of the ‘dahej’ from the girls side … and the refusal of any kind of gifts from them. At this mornings ceremony the most heart warming language that was heard when gifts were being given by the girls parents and refused by the boys side :
'aap ne apni beti hame de di hai … isse badi bheit hamare liye aur kya ho sakti hai' ..
"you have given your daughter to us … there can be no greater gift for us than this"
And at the time of the ‘kanyadaan’ … the ceremonial moment in the giving away of the daughter - an offering of the daughter - has always given all of us with wet eyes …
So much a Father goes through - expenses for a grand wedding, efforts in pleasing the ‘baraatis’ - the guests from the groom - for what … to give away his daughter !! It must come in the category of the biggest irony of life !!
And as I sit by myself in the quiet of the journey back, I think and recollect those moments of my own - the giving away of Shweta, and the welcome of Aishwarya …
There is much too much to think about in this world, and there is much too much agony that pervades you, as you do so … not just the plight of the women in society, but of need and want, of inequality, of the poor and the hapless, of the uncalled mastery and the sublimity of servility !
The right as a human to be what we are, instead of being what others desire us to be is a travesty, a grotesque misrepresentation, a parody ..
Many great souls have fought for what they felt was right, and succeeded .. today we lost one such !!