Wedding of the Ghosts


*This poem is based on the ritual of conducting marriage of the
children posthumously, prevalent in some parts of Kasargod, Kerala.

Wedding of the Ghosts

They are not just two wooden effigies.
Their horoscopes match perfectly.
A turquoise silk sari beatifies the bride.
The violet glass bangles embellish her arms.
(She was bitten by a stray dog years ago.
Sadly, the vaccine failed to work.)
The bridegroom is clad in white dhoti.
(His death in infancy was traumatic for his mother.)

They have been installed on the plastic chairs,
fenced by the two families.
The nuptial joys sound through the old sorrows.
A whistling wind and the mantras magnify the mystery
of this marriage.
A necklace is tied around the bride’s neck.
Her forehead is decked with a vermilion mark.
The air is sensuously scented
with the jasmine flowers hanging on her hair.

Meals are ready to be served on banana leaves.
The smell of the spicy curries wafts up in the silver light.
The people are bushy-tailed in the superstition-lit night.
The parents find solace
in the ghost-marriage of their son and daughter.
Blessed with the salvation,
the young ghosts will no longer haunt the family
with bad omens.

The bridegroom’s family returns with the garlanded effigies.
The symbolic couple will spend the rest of the night
under a banyan tree.
Not the beauty of ceremony,
the emotional sparkles are more striking.

First published in NewMyths