Tribal girl chooses spouse in first ever ’swayamvar’

July 9th, 2008 - 1:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Raipur, July 9 (IANS) A poverty-hit tribal girl accepted a youth as her groom Tuesday night at a gathering of about 15,000 persons in a remote Chhattisgarh village at the first ever ‘Swayamvar’ in the state in decades. People thronged Durg district’s Ghumka village, some 110 km west of capital Raipur, to watch the first ever ‘Swayamvar of Kalyug’ (modern day Swayamvar), as described by the local media.

A section of the girl’s Halba tribe boycotted the function terming it “unacceptable”.

Swayamvar in ancient India was a practice of choosing a life partner from among a list of suitors by a girl of marriageable age.

In this practice, the girl’s father decides to conduct the Swayamvara of the daughter at an auspicious time and venue, and broadcasts the news of this to the outside world. Kings, typically, used to send messengers to outside lands whereas commoners arranged to spread the news within the local community.

Bride’s father Ramratan Thakur, a highly religious person, had announced at least a month ago to marry off his daughter to a youth who would successfully reply to questions related to the creation of human beings.

The long wait of thousands of people, who assembled in an open ground at the village, ended around 10 p.m. when a tribal youth Ghanaram successfully answered a question “Panchtatva rachi adham sharira, chhiti jal pawak gagan sameera” (The body is made of five elements - earth, water, air, space, fire).

The youth Ghanaram chose the right meaning of the famous Hindu religious hymn and Thakur said: “The youth is the perfect candidate for my daughter as he has satisfactorily replied to the question which is a mix of five sub-questions.”

Amid clapping and religious chants, the girl who was wearing a bridal dress and seated on a chair waiting for her life partner, stood up and walked up to Ghanaram and garlanded him.

Families of the bride and the groom agreed to host a ceremony soon to solemnize the marriage.

In the olden days, on the appointed day and venue, a list of suitors arrived at the girl’s home and asked for her hand. The girl and her family got to choose among the suitors, sometimes through evaluating the completion of various tasks assigned. When the girl identified the husband of her choice, she garlanded him and a marriage ceremony was held immediately.

In the Hindu epic Ramayana, Sita was married to Rama, the only one strong enough to lift the ‘Shiv Dhanush’ (Lord Shiva’s bow) and string it.

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