I was walking one night last week in Nizamuddin Basti, a 14th century village in the heart of the city. In front of the Baoli Gate, one of the two entrances to the shrine of Sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuun Dargah, a wedding procession was slowly making its way into an alley. The dulha, or the bridegroom, was on a horse carriage. His face was hidden behind the sehra, a veil of flowers. The best man — a little boy wearing glares — was by his side. They were sitting on what looked like a modern-day peacock throne. Instead of gems and diamonds, the throne’s backrest was decked with garlands and electric bulbs.
On both sides of the street, a dozen children were carrying hefty electric lamps in their arms. They surrounded a band of
musicians in red jackets and black trousers, who were playing the tunes of the latest Bollywood chartbuster Munni badnam hui. A few young men, possibly the dulha’s friends, were dancing.
I walked up to the dulha and asked for his and his would-be wife’s name. Moving apart the strings of flowers from his face, he replied but the music drowned his voice. I asked again. Just then the carriage galloped, disappearing into a turning, leaving the street empty. The music was still echoing. It was a beautiful moment.