Soon after dusk on Sravan 17th, Nalini entered his palanquin, arrayed in a beautiful costume of Benares silk. The wedding procession set out forthwith, amid a mighty blowing of conch-shells and beating of drums. At 8 P.M. it reached the bride’s abode, where her family, with Sham Babu at the head, were ready to receive them. An hour later Nalini was conducted to the inner apartments, where the marriage ceremony began. It lasted until nearly eleven o’clock, when the young couple were taken to the Basarghar, or nuptial apartment. During these rites the men-folk were perhaps more pleasantly engaged in doing ample justice to a repast provided for them in the outer rooms. Then they chewed betels in blissful rumination, before separating with emphatic acknowledgments of the hospitality they had enjoyed.
On the following afternoon both bridegroom and bride were taken in palanquins to Kumodini Babu’s house, where she instantaneously won every heart by her grace and beauty. Two days later the Bau-Bhat ceremony was held. This is a feast in the course of which the bride (bau) distributes cooked rice (bhat) with her own hands to bidden guests, in token of her reception into her husband’s family and clan. Kumodini Babu had requisitioned an immense supply of dainties from local goalas (dairymen) and moiras (confectioners) with a view to eclipsing all previous festivals of the kind.
Early in the morning of the Bau-Bhat day a palanquin was carried into Kumodini Babu’s courtyard; and who should emerge from it but Ghaneshyam Babu! He ran up to his brother, who was sitting with some neighbours in the parlour, and, clasping his feet, implored forgiveness. Kumodini Babu’s heart leaped for joy. Tenderly did he embrace the penitent, who admitted that his peace of mind had fled from the moment he penned that cruel letter. He now saw the absurdity of his prejudices, and begged Kumodini Babu to forget his unbrotherly conduct. It is needless to add that the prayer was cordially granted and that Ghaneshyam Babu received a blessing from his elder brother. Thanks to his supervision the Bau-Bhat feast passed off at night without the slightest contretemps. Ten years later people still dwelt on the magnificent hospitality they had received, and held Kumodini Babu up as a model to fathers-in-law. In order that all classes might rejoice with him, he remitted a year’s rent to every ryot, besides lavishing considerable sums on Brahmans and poor folk. The more enlightened section of Kayasthas were unanimous in pronouncing him to be a true Hindu, on whose descendants the gods on high would pour down their choicest blessings. There were others, however, whose malignity found material to work on in his disregard of caste prejudices.
The Rival Markets.