Frog weddings claim several victims in India every year.
This year, Geeta, a 25-year young girl from a village 170 kilometers from Chennai, will be marrying a frog against her wishes.
She doesn’t have a chance to escape this union because her father has been threatened.
Of course, she can run away but that will make her parents outcastes in her village.
Which means that there will be no communication between the unfortunate parents and the village society. This is a scenario that nobody wants, not even Geeta.
Frog weddings- queer but acceptable
I had first seen a frog marriage when I was very young. I was perhaps 10 years old and was excited to watch the drama unfold before me in a Rajasthan village.
I can still remember that a frog sat coquettishly on a small palm-shaped leaf, its lips smeared with red lipstick, while the bride sat opposite it. Her face was covered with a ghoonghut or a veil.
The bride was a human- she was a girl.
She was wearing very attractive clothes and had nice jewelry on her body. Probably she was crying during the marriage because I could see that her friends were consoling her.
Mr. Frog was perhaps enjoying the spectacle and the attention that he was getting. If it was thinking something, then it gave little away.
The panditji or the priest was uttering some mantras or hymns. After a few minutes, the bride and her ‘groom’ stood up and took seven rounds of the sacred fire. It was understood now by all those present that the frog and the girl were now husband and wife for the next seven cycles of birth and death.
If you thought that this ‘wedding’ was attended by a handful of people, then you are mistaken.
I can still remember that there were at least 100 people in the marriage party and everyone enjoyed as if the wedding was his personal affair.
Making gods happy
Let us now come back to our friend Geeta.
She is a college graduate and wants to become an important government official.
For the past few years, she is preparing for an exam that would help her achieve her aim. Her parents support Geeta but have limited means to fund her education. Geeta’s father is a retired postman and his government pension cannot support his family’s monthly expenses.
At times, he has to take loans from his neighbors who do not charge any interest from him.
Most of the people in this Tamil Nadu village are farmers and depend upon rains for their crop earnings.
Unfortunately, for the past two years, rain gods have not visited this village and this is a cause of worry for its residents. They have tried every tactic in their book to make the gods happy, but have failed so far.
One day, the village priest told the villagers that frog weddings can help all of them in this crisis.
After a little bit of discussion and debate, all the villagers agreed to this idea. But there was just one problem- who will be the bride?
The reluctant bride
Panditji again came to the rescue of the villagers. The bride should have been born in August, be fair in appearance and must be approximately 25 years of age- he prescribed.
After a little bit of research, the villagers found out that Geeta fit the bill perfectly. But did, she like the idea?
No way. She simply laughed at that idea and said it was plain silly.
The villagers, however, had other ideas. Led by the headman, they told her father that this frog wedding was a must for the welfare of the village.
‘Else, risk a boycott by us….,’ the headman threatened.
Geeta’s father had no option but to obey the headman’s orders.
It is not necessary that frogs only marry girls. In many cases, such marriages take place between frogs. But in Geeta’s case, it was necessary that the bride be a girl of marriageable age.
Frog weddings- Shrouded in time
Panditji is partially right. Nobody knows when frog weddings started in India.
However, we do know that Lord Vishnu, one of the three Gods of the Holy Trinity, had once taken the form of an amphibian. Hindus believe that this avatar was necessary to save mankind from drought and floods. This was several millions of years ago.
Is that the reason why frog weddings are so important in certain parts of the country?
For example in Assam, frog marriages are organized with much pomp and show. Like in traditional marriages, the ‘bridegroom’ frog leads band party and its guests.
Frog weddings in Assam are called ‘Bhekulia Biya’.
Similar frog marriages are held in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and a few other parts of the world. Brides are identified for frog ‘grooms’ according to some yardsticks and they are later wed to the selected amphibians.
Almost all these marriages are held to please the rain gods so that the farmers get a good crop. India still depends on farming to a large extent.
What happens to the frog later?
After the marriage is over, it is sent back to the well or the pond from where it was collected. It goes back to its original home, intact.
And the bride?
Also nothing. After this sham wedding, the village allows her to go back to her home and lead her normal life.
But I am sure that this sham wedding would leave a deep scar on Geeta’s psyche. Her friends and other who know her would always call as Mrs. Frog and this is not good for the girl’s health.
What do you say, my friends?
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