Skip to main content

The Years of Dal and Salt

You are getting married. You are tense. Various people are surrounding you and rattling instructions at you. There is an endless series of ceremonies. You zone out and just do things without absorbing what is being said. Being the Father of The Groom is also stressful. However, you have more context, having been married for a while and sitting on the sidelines and watching the fun. 

One thing became clear to me, the Indian wedding ceremonies are definitely designed for brides and grooms in their early or mid-teens. Not people in their late twenties. Many of the activities which would have been fun when younger are embarrassing when you are older. For example telling your future father-in-law, "Bye, I am off for higher studies." The father-in-law stops you and tells you he is willing to offer you his daughter in marriage. At this point, they tell you. Jump for Joy. 😃. There is a lot of playacting. There is a lot of dialog. If this was done on stage with good actors it could be made into a hilarious skit.  It would be fun when young, but a drag when older. There was another dialog that happened a little later.

The Salt Elephant and Dal Elephant ceremony. 

At this point the marriage is over, the taali has been tied, and they are now officially husband and wife. (I now realize that many of the subsequent ceremonies are counseling sessions.)

I have no clue or memory of whether this happened during my wedding ceremony. I am fairly certain that Prahalad and Sneha were in a daze by this stage.


The bride stands in front of a Elephant made of Dal (Pulses) and the bridegroom stands in front of an elephant made of Salt. This ceremony is called Nagavalli. They have a dialog prompted at each stage by the priest. Here is my loose translation of what they say. (If I have anything extra to say, I have put it in parentheses)

Bride - "Look at my beautiful yellow elephant, do you want to buy it?"
Groom - "I like it, how much does it cost?"
Bride - "2 crores." (This is a ridiculous amount)
Groom- "Whoa, that is way to much. Look at my elephant, it is so much better looking, Do you want to buy it?"
Bride - "Yes, I like it but how much do you want."
Groom - "10 crores." (Kind of upping the ante.)
Bride - "What?" 
Groom - "See how it glints and shines."
Bride - "10 crores is simply way too much."
Groom - "Your Dal is tasteless, unless it is flavored with Salt." 
Bride - "Your salt will melt away if I throw water on it. My Dal is what nourishes people and so is more important."

At this point, the priest asks them to reach out and try to pull the other person to their side.Prahalad pulled Sneha over.

Then the counseling session started. I am interpreting what he said loosely. 

People enter Samsara (loosely translated as life, not just this one but all your lives) and treat it as a market. They focus on what they bring to the market and trying to get the best possible price for it. In a marriage they get disappointed that the spouse is not compensating them for the value of what they are bringing to the marriage. (And people tend to overvalue what they bring and undervalue what the other person is bringing). They are pulling at each other to bring the other person over to their side. 

This is the wrong approach. The Dal is useless without Salt and the Salt is useless without Dal. In the same way in the marriage, don't try to measure each other. You have to combine together to create something tasty and nutritious. How do you do this? You have to help each other lead a moral and fruitful life. There are many things that neither of you can do alone. Learn all the social and religious duties that a couple is supposed to perform. Do them sincerely together. God will then bless you with a happy life. 

My thoughts

This resonates with me, it reminds me so much of what I wrote here. In my previous post I talked about avoiding a mindset of entitlement. This is illustrating it with a small skit. A really neat and compact lesson. 

What do you think? Share it in the comments.

If you are wondering about the title, it is named after one of my favorite books.

Comments

ps said…
GK,
like your interesting interpretation and the possible reasons why we do something. Keep it going.
ps said…
GK,
like your interesting interpretation and the possible reasons why we do something. Keep it going.
Suresh said…
Nice article. I think the counseling sessions are valuable and more relevant today given the two income families and both partners having their own circles, influencers and aspirations. At the end of a long ceremony, they are probably an imposition. Maybe do them before the ceremony. I remember a Robin William movie where he had sessions for couples before they got married 😁

Popular posts from this blog

Weddings - Symbols and Messages

When I got married, I spent my wedding days in a daze. My parents, my in-laws, the officiating priest gave me instructions and I blindly followed them. This is normal. During an Indian wedding there are a huge variety of rituals to be carried out. They vary based on the region you come from, the sect you belong to, and traditions followed in your family.

In my opinion, they all have one thing in common, the bride and groom are totally disconnected from the entire spectacle that is playing out around them. Now my son Prahalad is getting married to Sneha and I will watch them go through an identical experience. So I started wondering how I could help them make sense of the crazy few days they are going to experience.
I have a wonderful idea Me, I am an engineer and so I had this wonderful idea. Compare the wedding ceremony to F=ma. That is Newton's Second Law of Motion. If you understand the symbols and what they stand for, then it is a very useful and powerful equation. If you do…

Accepting Your Wife in Marriage

I read a change management book a while back. It said that all changes follow identical phases. How long you spend in each phase may vary, but you will go through all the phases. The phases are inevitable.


“Changes” are anything new - a new job, a new house, a new hobby, a new spouse, or a new way of doing things.




When you initiated the change you did it because you felt the change would be for the better.

Initially there is a honeymoon phase, you see all the nice things about the change. You are excited and happy.

After a while you start noticing the drawbacks, the negative aspects of the change. You enter the disillusionment phase. You are upset and angry, you feel cheated.

At this point three things can happen.
Breakdown. You abandon the change, and go back to the old ways. You try to get another job, another house, abandon your hobby, or divorce your spouse. Trapped. You are unhappy but grit your teeth and go on. You feel trapped, stressed out. You continue in the job, house, hobby…

Giving up Tennis

In my previous post I was discussed how most people treat their marriage as a Tennis game.

In Relationship Tennis you are trying to dominate your spouse and get them to behave as per your concept of the perfect spouse. If you are uncomfortable or unhappy in your relationship with your spouse, the first and most important step is to stop playing Relationship Tennis. Not easy. This post is about how you can stop playing Relationship Tennis.

As I discussed in depth in my post Accepting your Wife in Marriage I decided that I want to improve my relationship with Vandana. When I talked to her about it, she thought it was one more strategy I was using in my Relationship Tennis. When I asked her what would convince her that I was serious, she threw me a challenge. The challenge was very simple, she said, "You never make the bed, for the next one year make the bed everyday and I might be willing to believe you." So the first step on the journey was that for one year I made the bed e…