Blowing the conch

Blowing the conch

Home, after a memorable sun-n-sand wedding, is the right place to ruminate on the events, excitement and experiences of that outing.

We have millions of photographs, taken by millions of people, shared on social media and groups. There are comments, shared thoughts, and laughter threaded through the entire event. I feel like a satisfied cow, sitting in the winter sun, drinking tea and looking back at those three days.. I bring out events from mind, and re-play them, again and again. And this post is about the best one.

The bride and groom are not the leading couple here, but it sure was a great way to introduce the groom to a modern Bengali family, scattered all over the world, but glued together by some magic.  Here, the magic came in the shape of a well-rounded, white, shining conch shell, termed “Shaankh” in Bengali. It adds a special solemn sound to special rituals of life. Blowing a Shaankh looks so easy, when blown by an expert. Failing to blow a Shaankh can be so comical, with pathetic whoosh sounds and frowns and giggles all around.

So there we were, on the day of the wedding. It was all about blue skies, yellow flowers and mustard attire, laughter and ceremonies. The rituals and turmeric smearing, blessing, tying bangles, pouring ghastly concoctions on the hapless groom, hugging the gorgeous bride…all the rituals were done, and there were family groups scattered over the lawns. A chance to re-connect, chat, comment, reminisce, remember–that’s what weddings are for!

At the large table of maternal cousins, there was noise aplenty…A large Shaankh was being passed around. Brothers ( strong and burly), nephews ( smart and eager), tried hard to blow the Shaankh and failed totally. While the Shaankh was blamed by the poor soul who just whooshed and whistled, the others roared and ridiculed him.

Everyone at the table gave it a try…everyone failed…everyone blamed the Shaankh…and everyone laughed and cheered. But the Shaankh remained silent, refusing to cooperate with every attempted method. Advice was passed around in big measure–“Spit into it, pursue your lips, blow soft, blow hard, give up”.

The noise and laughter reached the adjoining table, where my paternal cousins were gathered. We knew that expert Shaankh blowers were sitting on that table, but none of them came across to give that Shaankh a try.

When the bride, bridegroom, the father of the bride–all of them failed to blow the Shaankh,  and after everyone on the table was rolling with laughter while all the blowers blamed that hapless Shaankh, we handed over the big conch to my eldest cousin ( and my dearest Didi).

One tap on the conch, one quiet smile and then….the most profound, deep, melodious sound surrounded us all. There were only cheers and applause and admiration.  You can watch the video here..and you can agree with me about the fact that there’s a lot to be said for experience and aplomb and seniority!

Later in the evening, while the wedding vows and ceremonies were being happening with the setting sun in the background, there was this profoundly moving, solemn sound of the Shaankh all around the bride and groom.

My brother, a life-long admirer of my Didi, took the Shaankh, and blew it with all his lung power and love. He made it seem effortless, but the entire family of the bride knew all about the effort involved!!


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