Friday, September 27, 2013

India as seen by others

This is an extract from a book written in 1921

Its Rajahs - Its Brahmans - Its Fakirs



This French man was in awe of this country and toured the length and breadth of it not once but twice.
It is interesting to read what he says.

Here is a sampler.
This is about Indian weddings.

They do not consist, these wedding gifts, as they do with us, of modest cases of jewels, silver, lace, furs, pianos, automobiles, etc. . . . The Hindu wedding boasts of more royal presents. Would you care to know, for example, what was the wedding gift of His Highness the Maharajah of Kashmir to the young couple of Kapurthala? An elephant,six horses, fifteen thousand rupees. The other princes, less rich than he, contented themselves with offering the betrothed: one, three camels, two horses, a dozen falcons ; another, some Bokhara rugs, a collar of pearls, draperies embroidered with gold; others made their appearance preceded by a herald bearing sacks of precious stones in their matrix, or rough-hewn nuggets of gold. The exhibition of the gifts takes place, as in France, a few days before the marriage ceremony, but in the morning, from ten o'clock till noon, in a special room, guarded by two armed attendants. The groom, who alone is visible before the day of the marriage the young girl being strictly secluded in the zenana of the ranees does the honors generally of the inspection of the gifts, many of which are reserved for him personally: arms, jewels, saddles, tennis rackets, polo sticks,etc.

There is something melancholy and saddening in the persistent and mysterious absence of the bride, who ought to be the queen, feted, petted, complimented, of all these festivities. But the Hindu wedding custom permits no relaxation of this stringent system. Even if, like the Princess Brinda of Jubbal, the bride were strongly imbued with European civilization, this preventive sequestration would none the less take place. It is, in a sense, a preparatory novenna which she accomplishes now. Surrounded by the dowager queen, that is to say by the maharanee, the other ranees and their intimates, she trains herself and accustoms herself in advance to the double role of sovereign and wife which must soon be hers. The priests visit her and instruct her thoroughly in her duties there is no question of her rights, which do not exist and in certain obligations which the Law of Manu imposes on her.

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