Rahees Ram Bisarha had to spend a lot extra on his younger brother’s wedding recently because the reception had to be shifted out of his village in Bundelkhand as no such ceremonial occasion was allowed there.
The reason is that the village was under the spell of ‘Parag’, a social custom that prohibits marriages in a village if any person there has committed a murder or been ‘guilty’ of cow slaughter.
Also, under the custom, if a member of a family has murdered someone or killed a cow, the family is ostracised. While the legal process against the accused continues, the elders, traditional panches of the village and nearby hamlets, gather to decide upon parallel punishment for the family of the accused.
The family is asked to conduct “tulsi-vivah” (a ritualistic marriage of the tulsi plant), take a dip in the Ganga and, most commonly, hold a community feast for the village. If the family fails to comply with the decision, Parag is extended to the village and weddings are banned until the accused’s family relents. This ban might continue for years. Talking to HT, local social worker Rajesh Tiwari said: “We are making efforts to create awareness against it.”
However, Kaushal Kishore Pathak, a local priest, said the prevalence of the custom was decreasing.