The day before the wedding we had a pithi or haldi ceremony. My sweet family was busy baking wedding cupcakes, and putting the finishing touches on the 70-odd candles we poured, so only Momo was able to accompany me. The ceremony was beautiful, and playful, and bonding. All of the matriarchs came to give Dr. P and me their blessings and anoint our heads, shoulders, hands, knees and feet with turmeric paste.
When Momo and I got back to camp-TD I overheard her telling my sisters about the meaning behind the ceremony. "You anoint the head so that the couple's thoughts will now be only for the good of each other." She said. "The shoulders are anointed so that the newlyweds will be upright and honest before their communities and before God. The hands symbolize tenderness and compassion, and are supposed to remind the couple to lift one another up. The knees are for strength, because a marriage is like tending a field. It's hard work, and some might grow faint, but by sharing the burden, the load is lightened and the fruits plenty. Finally," she added with a stern look to me, "the feet represent life's path, the past, present and future. This last consecration reminds the new couple to move forward while never forgetting where they are from."
"Mom, that's really beautiful, I had no clue!" I said, because I was dazzled. The ceremony took place completely in sanskrit, and I seemed to have missed the explanation amid all the anointed hubbub. "Did someone translate everything for you?"
To this she flashed her sweetly assured smile and said quite simply "No. But really, it was all quite obvious."
Momo's interpretation suits me just fine, and for the time being I have very little interest in discovering its true authenticity. I think we're going to have to start calling her "Momoji."
|Momoji bestowing her blessing|