[dropcap]M[/dropcap]EERUT, INDIA – When they were both born, their families had decided to marry them once they attained marriageable age. However, destiny had other plans. The boy and girl, born to two families from a nomadic tribe in Saharanpur and neighbouring Haridwar districts, fell victim to fatal diseases as toddlers.
However, the promise was kept alive by the families. On Tuesday, marriage between the two was solemnized with all the rituals. Dolls were used in place of bride and groom at a ceremony held in a Saharanpur village as the baraat came from Haridwar.
The families who belong to Nat (acrobats) tribe said they have been following this tradition for generations.
At Meerpur-Mohanpur village of Saharanpur district, around 200 people from the tribe reside on the outskirts of the village. The tribesmen are known for performing acrobatics at cultural fairs to earn their living. The new generation is also trying their hands at playing in wedding bands.
The girl’s father Rameshwar said, “My daughter Puja had passed away about 18 years ago when she was of just 2-years-old. Jogendra, son of Tejpal who resides at Gaddanora village of Haridwar district, had also died about 18 years ago at the age of four. Both the kids fell victim to fatal diseases. According to our customs, if our children die before marriage, we arrange their weddings even after their death. If my daughter would be alive today, she would have been of marriageable age.”
On Tuesday, a baraat of 50 friends and relatives arrived at the village. After the marriage ceremony which was followed by a feast, the bride and groom dolls were immersed in a river. Pitambar, an elderly relative of the deceased bride, said, “This tradition has been practised among us for generations. We follow it to save our other children from untimely death. Those who have passed away as bachelors will not get salvation until all their rituals (samskara) are performed.”