I have yet to tell you the dirty details about why the Baran Ceremony was such an eye opener for me.
So there I was, in a long line, waiting for my turn and watching other women do things I had never done before. I saw Durga’s beautiful face be smeared with vermilion with a vengeance, sweets stuffed into her closed, and to me, disgusted mouth, and flowers strewn all over the place being trampled by women holding more flowers in their hands.
The two ladies behind me were from the lower middle class, and stuck out like a sore thumb. I overheard one of them talking about their ailing child, whom she had left at home. When my turn came, I asked them to go first because I had no sick children waiting. She looked very thankful and climbed up up the chair in front of the idol and started doing the thing. She must’ve been up there for less than two minutes when I realized that two uppity aunties in uncannily similar blue and green sarees (almost the same design in two different colors) had just climbed up on the stage and were slyly trying to jump their turn. I politely told them (in Hindi) that there was a line, and pointed to where it ended.
The woman in the blue saree was visibly miffed, but kept quiet. For one second. She suddenly started urging (rather rudely) the lady on the chair to hurry up, because tum kitni der se oopar chadhi hui ho, hamari baari kab aayegi (you’ve been up there for such a long time, when will we get a chance)?
I smirked, which she (mis)understood, as she started asking me and the other women why we were not saying something to the woman who was taking too long. The other lower middle class woman came to her friend’s rescue – she just got up there, less than two minutes ago.
The woman in the green saree then started pushing the woman and asking her to get off the chair. Kahan kahan se aa jate hain! Where do these people even come from?
Then I lost it. I asked her (pretty rudely) to back off and go stand in the line. Sab yahan line mein ek ghante se khade hain, agar paanch minute puja karne mein lage bhi to kya problem hai? Jab aapki baari aaye to aap bhi time laga lena. Ab jakar line mein khade ho jaiye. Everyone’s been standing in the line for an hour – what does it matter if they take five minutes to pray? Please go and stand in the line and await your turn, and when you do get a chance, take as long as you like.
Hum yahan dus baje se yahan hain, barah bajne wale hain aur hamari baari ab tak nahin aayi. We’ve been here since 10 am. It’s nearly noon, and we still haven’t got a chance.
Agar aap line mein khade hote to aa jati naa baari! Par aap to subah se mandir mein socialize kar rahe ho, kaise aayegi baari! You would’ve, if you had stood in the line instead of socializing with the other ladies in the temple.
Aur itne saare logon ne time liya, aapne unse to kuch nahin kaha! Aisa kyon? Kyonki woh sab zyada classy ladies thi? Also, many women took this long, but you said nothing to them! Could it be because they were all classy ladies?
At this point they were really mad at me because it really was the truth, but they could say nothing because I wasn’t from the lower middle class. They just kept their noses upturned and said mean things about me in Bengali, all of which I understood.
So I decided to take things a notch higher. By the way, ami bangla bujhte pari. By the way, I understand Bengali.
You should’ve seen the looks on their faces as onlookers began to laugh.
Here’s a picture of me doing the baran. I was laughing all the time, and took a good five minutes to finish just to piss them off!