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HindustanTimes Sat,25 Oct 2014
Playing The Bhai
Manit Moorjani, Hindustan Times
December 01, 2012
First Published: 17:53 IST(1/12/2012)
Last Updated: 11:32 IST(4/12/2012)

There is a wedding in the house. And the bride is your sister. And if you have seen other brothers handle this responsibility and imagine yourself to be up to the role, it’s time you faced reality! Being the brother in a wedding has more to do with strength than love, more to do with patience than care, and more to do with stealth and athleticism than good wedding planning! Also, much of what follows stems directly from my personal experience last week, a first for me!

As the bride gets dressed up at the hands of the professionals, the brothers patiently wait, often in the beauty parlour itself! All the jewellery and make-up and hair pins and the iron-heavy duppatta might make you dizzy, but don’t let it show. The bride loves them all! Then you drive your sister to the venue and show her to the waiting room. This is when the building ceases to be a wedding venue, and becomes a castle! All the brothers and sisters guard the gate, anxiously awaiting the arrival of the groom. According to the custom, the groom can only be allowed inside the wedding venue once he pays a hefty sum of money (meant as a bribe!)

Now comes the strength side of your character. The groom will try to push his way through (without paying up!), and the group of brothers (read brothers in arms!) have to hold him, and the rest of his battalion, at the gate. They even charge with full force on the count of three. It could be called wrestling, only if somebody fell to the ground, though no one does. Most of the sisters obviously move to the side and watch, some even make videos with their phones! After a foiled attempt (or two), the next round is kept for bargaining. The sisters reduce their chosen amounts, and the groom pretends as if every amount is outrageous. Then he announces such a tiny amount that he is pushed completely outside the gates!

The tikka is one of the few moments in a wedding where only the brother's presence is required. Use for his strength, cunning and patience come much later.


He then desperately rushes to take the smaller gate on the side, so he could be reunited with the love of his life, but somebody closes it from the other side (It was me, in this case). We brothers protect our castle so that the sister (read princess) isn’t rescued by the groom too soon (not before paying up at least!). Alas, after much struggle (a lot like kushti) he almost pushes through, and then suddenly hands over an envelope of cash! You have played your part for now, dear brother!

When the bride is taken for the varmala ceremony, you have to lift a wooden screen strewn with flowers above her head for a couple of minutes, maybe even twenty. Warm your shoulders up before-hand, there can be no mistakes here! And this is just the beginning. Soon you'll be lifting your sister in the air for the varmala. No matter how many brothers there are, and no matter how featherweight light your sister is, it’s quite a task as you lift her higher and higher so that the groom is unable to put the varmala around her neck. Hope you’ve been going to the gym in the countdown to the wedding!

Oh, by the way, somewhere between the two displays of strength, you also have to remove the groom’s shoes from his feet. This would get you more bribe money soon! Last week, we managed to gather both the shoes by the end of the pheras, but the groom replied, “We have your sister’s shoes. How about we exchange the two pairs?” We all spoke in unison, “She is your wife now. She'll take her shoes from you. How about you pay for yours, now!”
 
A brother's checklist
- Patience at the beauty parlour
- Strength to hold the groom at the gate
- Cuts on the arms are part of the game
- Cunning and stealth to locate and hide the groom’s shoes
- Smart mind to bargain with the groom
- Strong shoulders to lift the bride at the varmala
- Power to push the car as the newly wed head home for the first time!

From HT Brunch, December 2

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