“Together we will lead our married life in a manner that is as eco-friendly as possible”--this was an extra wedding vow that Sangam Singh, 24 and Mandvi Singh, 20 took around a ceremonial fire in a village in Bundelkhand’s Mahoba district on Sunday night. The girl while leaving the maternal home on Monday morning carried a Tulsi sapling along as dowry.
Sangam and Mandvi had a green wedding and have promised to lead rest of the life together as eco-friendly as possible. Both are just matriculates but from affluent farmers’ families who could have used automobiles for the wedding, but they did not. Boy reached the girl’s house in bullock carts procession, and the girl too departed for her new home in a similar procession.
The groom had reached for wedding dressed in a cotton dress coloured yellow in turmeric and a headdress made of palm fronds. “Oh, we girls grow up dreaming that that a boy would come, smartly dressed, on a horseback. And look how he came—on a bullock cart and in turmeric kurta and palm fronds crown (giggles). But this was better,” said Mandvi.
Most of the ceremonies were held in cotton fabrics dyed in vegetable colours—like turmeric. The wedding took place at bride’s house in Pachpehra village in Mahoba district 240 km from southwest of Lucknow. And now the bride has shifted to her matrimony house four kilometer away in Mataun village in neighbouring district--Banda.
The groom and relatives planted saplings for four trees-two trees respectively to neutralise all the carbon that the man and the woman would generate in their lifetime.
"We are delighted at the way we ended up marrying. Initially I was little apprehensive as I thought that such a way to marry was not befitting to our status in the village,” said Sangam Singh. And the wife Mandvi adds: “At the end of it we are happier than what we would have been had we got married in a cacophonous and ostentatious ceremony.”
The two would plant saplings for two trees each for every child they have. “Even as we begin married life, our family already has six members--Husband, me and our four trees that he planted on the day of wedding,” said Mandvi.
“The day I learn that my wife has conceived, the two of us would plant saplings for two more trees to neutralise carbon that the kid would generate," said Sangam Singh.
Pushpendra Kumar Singh, 55, who actually is a Bundelkhand drought activist and a relative played Wedding Planner. He along with his associates conceived this eco-friendly way of life for the newly weds.
The entire ceremony was conducted by a set of eleven Brahmins (Hindu priests) led by the Principal of Vamdev Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya, Banda, Ashok Awasthi. They began the ceremonies by first organising a worship to 'a tree-a cow-an ox-a wooden plough-water'. "All this is traditional Hindu and Bundelkhandi rituals that are actually have ancient environmental wisdom into it," said Awasthi.
Even the guests participated in the saplings planting ceremony and pledged to turn thief lifestyle as eco friendly as possible.
There were no fireworks in the wedding. Conch shells and drumbeats sounded it auspicious and festive. The wedding feast was served in leaf plants and bowls.
The couple says that they know about global warming and climate change and even rural India contributes a lot to pollution through fertilizers, fuels and changing lifestyle. And they want their marriage send a message across to rural folks for leading a life that is more in sync with nature.