In today’ world where marital life is failing all across with 60% cases of breakup in the west, Mithila, a part of the state of Bihar can pride itself on being a land where marriage is a hundred percent successful. The intelligentsia believes that such a success is because of the social thread, rich tradition and the flawless system of marriage.
The cultural heritage of Mithila has been a matter of curiosity for centuries. In fact, there are so many cogent reasons that give Mithila an edge over other traditions. Here is the wonderful social tradition of match-making. People in the belt have adopted innovative and scientific methods in marriage for centuries.
However, in today’s cities, many business centres have mushroomed in the form of the Marriage Bureau or Matching Center, which reportedly work to connect the marriageable brides and grooms to each other. But they are devoid of any investigative mechanism for fixing their suitability.
Good enough, in Mithila, there have been institutions for over seven hundred years working exclusively on the individual background of the brides and grooms. The persons running these institutions were known as Panjiyar, marriage registrars. These marriage registrars have the genealogy of hundreds of years who cross check whether the approval of conjugality may be granted.
No preparation for the marriage could start without the unequivocal assertion of Adhikar (the right to marry) to the families who would come to seek the go-ahead for the marriage. And Adhikar could only be established if both sides did not have any blood relations till seven generations in their respective ascendants. If the boy and girl are of the same Gotra, the right of marriage would get rejected outright. Today’s medical science has also stamped its authority to these practices.
After Adhikar is established, the marriage is recommended, which is called Siddhant in Mithila. Prior to the wedding, the health of the groom is checked thoroughly. In this, it is called Parichhan, a word possibly derived from Hindi Pariksha meaning examination. In this ritual, the body of the groom is examined for a medical check-up. During the examination, the nose is pressed. The very purpose of this act is to check whether there is any semblance of epilepsy or breathing problem. Not only this, the clothes are also taken off from the body. The main purpose of taking off clothes is to check skin diseases. Also, psychological checks are done. In these investigations, the proposed marriage gets cancelled when the groom fails to live up to the expectations of the people on the bride side.
After the success of the groom in the test, the marriage ceremony is performed in the presence of the bride and groom. The people on the bride side are called Shariyati whereas Barati is known to be the one who represents the groom side. The involvement of both of these people is considered as a witness.
The social fabric is so strong that there is not even iota of doubt about the success of marriage. If there is any strain in the new relationship, the people involved in this marriage program and the elderly of the house sit together and solve the problem. The bride and groom grow with the thought of “one married, inseparable for whole life”.
Even after wedding ceremony, many rituals take place for one year, in which nature and fire are considered as witnesses. Also, the lyrical rhyme tradition is amazing. The year long period of observing rituals here also plays an important role in connecting the bride and groom. It can be called honeymoon according to today’s Western civilization.
During this time the bride and groom get attached to each other so emotionally that it seems that both of them are made for each other. The disintegration of the relationship becomes alien to them. It is beyond thinking. An utterance is a sin here. Such is the conjugal bonding.
The residents of Mithila have been very generous since the beginning. It is said that King Janak had empowered Sita to choose select her life partner, organizing Swamber. That means that for a marriageable girl, the right to choose the groom was in Mithila even in the epoch of the Ramayana. For centuries, Mithila has been the example of women empowerment. There has never been any gender bias. The society there is a perfect example of tolerance, and it is worth mentioning in today’s society where “Honour Killings” are the usual occurrences.
The author Dr Birbal Jha is the Managing Director of British Lingua and Chairman of Mithilalok Foundation