Ganga Jamuni tehzeeb. Its ambassadors? A Dhobin, a Maniharan.

Sometime ago I met a bangles-wali, a Maniharan, Rafeequl. She narrated a story to me. It echoed what i had heard a few months ago. She tells me, in many villages around Lucknow a special tradition still flows. It warmed my heart. So I share.

Once, not so long ago, a day before the wedding, the family dhoban, the washerwoman would go around the streets singing a song, calling women to give ‘suhaag’ … to bless the bride. The women would gather and put the sindoor on the girl’s forehead. But the final sindoor would blessed by the Dhoban, also a Muslim. I am told, no Brahmin girl could get married without her blessing.

Before the bidayi, the Maniharan, bangle seller’s wife would come. She would artfully slip the bangles – black and red in colour – on the wrists of the bride. The colour black was for Nazar, to prevent any evil eye. And the red, a blessing for her suhaag. She, also a practitioner of Islam, would then naughtily ask the groom for a gift. Almost always, a gift – more than what she asked for – would be given along with a playful ritual, a request for her to ‘kindly accept’. There is a song around that too.

This story has been lived in many villages around Unnao, in Uttar Pradesh. A part of what we call the Ganga Jamuni tehzeeb.

Perhaps the tehzeeb named after the two rivers, contains a hidden message.

To allow oneself to merge with another – person or culture – one has to be like the river. Flowing. Surrendered to the call of the Ocean.

Only in that state the potential and the power to flow together emerges. For, like the two rivers, the aim then is not in conquering, overpowering, or dominating each other, but simply in flowing … to merge with the Infinite.