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Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Those Matchmakers

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One of the Bollywood song says……

Chudiyan banti hai dukano mein
Jodiyan upar aasamano mein

(चूड़ियाँ बनती हैं दुकानों में
जोड़ियाँ ऊपर आसमानों में

But, there are some places where matchmaking is done. In the Mithilanchal region of Bihar, the 'Saurath Sabha', that is, the fair of brides, has grown from ancient times. This tradition continues even today. The debate over its importance in the modern era has definitely increased.

Saurath Sabha is located on 22 bighas of land in Saurath, Madhubani district. It is also known as 'Sabhagachhi'. Saurath is a name similar to Saurashtra in Gujarat. Like Saurashtra in Gujarat, there is a Somnath temple here, but not so big. The similarity in Saurath and Saurashtra is the subject of research.

In the Mithilanchal region, this fair of Mathil Brahmin grooms takes place for seven to eleven days every year in the month of ashadh , in which the fathers of the daughters pick up the worthy groom and take them with them.

In this meeting, the qualified groom comes with his father and other relatives. The people of the girl side interact with the elders and their families and gather all the information about each other's family and decide the relationship when the groom likes it.

There had been good crowd in the Saurath Assembly till about two decades ago, but now its charm seems to be decaying. Highly qualified grooms do not like to sit in this Saurath Sabha. Today's youth section seems not ready to follow this tradition.

The role of traditional registrars(Panjikars) in Saurath Sabha is important. The relationship that is settled here gives recognition to the registrar. The role of the registrars(Panjikars) is the same that the Magistrate in the Court Marriage

The registrar keeps the genealogy of the groom and the bride side. They match up to the seven generations of the records of marriage of both sides. On seeing the record of both sides, it is confirmed that no marriage has been done in the past seven generations between the two families, then the registrar says, "Get the right!" That is, there is no blood connection before, so there is no harm in establishing a relationship.

Maithil Brahmins started this practice in about 1310 AD about 700 years ago, so that marriage relations can be settled between good clans. About 1.5 lakh people visited in Saurath Sabha in 1971. In 1991, nearly fifty thousand people had come, but now the number of visitors has decreased significantly.

There are some scientific reasons behind this kind of fair. Doctors also advise not to marry in the same blood group. Perhaps this is the reason why Maithil Brahmins do not marry in the same clan and origin. They believe that the best of the offspring is to marry children in different clans.

Finding a suitable groom for daughter was a difficult task earlier, so all the Brahmins of Mithilanchal came to Saurath Sabha to find a groom.

Now, the people are also living in different states and they get suitable grooms there too. If the boys and girls are well educated, they make a decision by own, they do not have to come Saurath Sabha. Yet, there are people who come here to verify the record and registering the marriage.

In Mithilanchal, since the ancient times, an annual meeting of the bride-groom's parents and relatives has been put in place during the auspicious time for proper settlement of marital relations. The aim of the Saurath Sabha was to stop marriage of celibacy, to eradicate dowry and provide confirmation of marriage keeping various aspects of both the sides of the bride and groom.

The positive outcome of this tradition is that the marriage institution in Mithila has always been in a strong position and the intensity of social relations remains intact. Nowadays, considering the rising cases of divorce, its significance can be understood.

It is true that people are becoming disillusioned with this meeting now. Its main reason may be changing social lives, values, latest education and loosing importance of their customs and traditions.

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