Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A strange wedding song, 1877

Kashmiri Dancing Girl
by V. C. Prinsep

An extract from Imperial India; an artist's journals' (1879) by V. C. Prinsep, who visited Kashmir around 1877.
One evening I went to a wedding. I was not allowed to join in the ceremony, but viewed the proceedings from an upper window. Seven days the tomasha had lasted, and day and night were women howling congratulatory verses to the bridegroom who sat feasting with his intimates the while. On a certain day rings are put into the bride's ears and nose; on another her hands are marked with henna, and so on. She lived in a house hard by, where the happy man was allowed to see her for a short time each day, being conducted to and fro with mush ceremony and many torches stinking and reeking, as I found to my cost. I have taken down many of the distiches sung on the occasion, and am trying to get them translated, when, if they are worth it, I will add them to my diary. The continued howling of the women becomes very irksome after a time, and although the sight was curious, I was glad to get away after a couple of hours. The bride was nine years old.
The following is a translation of the songs sung at a Kashmirree wedding [by Major Henderson, C.S.I., the political officer in Kashmir]: -
Mother of the Bridegroom to the Bridegroom.
Urge on thy steed in every direction.
I will prepare thy seat in the garden pavilion:
On thy right the Koran, on thy left the necklace.
Thou art worthy to be called Lalla Gopal!


The Lalla Gopal in the verse needed some explanation. A note in the book adds, 'Lalla Gopal, one of the names of Krishna, who was supposed to have been the type of loveliness. Curious, this, when sung by a Mohammedan!'

Prinsep further explains:
The song is a good picture of the manners of the country, and the way that the Moslem and hindoo customs have acted on each other. Whilst at Sreenugger I have painted two or three nautch girls, and it was through them that I got to this wedding, as they were amongst the singers. now these girls, like most nautch girls in India, were all Moslemehs, yet had they all the caste feeling of Hindoo. Of moral sentiment they were entirely innocent, but they would never permit any one to drink out of their cup or smoke from their hookah, and they always went about these two utensils, for smoke and tea are the two things necessary to a Kashmiree. So in this song a Kashmiree Moslem is made to say "beautiful as Krishna."

There is another interesting line given in that song:
Singing women to the Bride and Bridegroom.
The parrot of Lahore and the Mainah of Kashmir!
How did you both become mutually acquainted?



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1 comment:

  1. THANKS FOR POSTING VINTAGE PHOTOS OF KASHMIR, I ENJOYED BUNIYAR TEMPLE COLLECTION MOST FOR ITS DETAILED VIEWS OF THE MONUMENT, ESPECIALLY THE MEMORIAL STONES

    ReplyDelete

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