|Step 1: They took his hair away|
My baby cousin ( he was born in ’92 the year otherwise famous for the Cricket world cup) has been a lovely boy. Obsessed with his hair generally (especially when he was in his precious teens). I’m not heavy into gifts but the one thing I did get him from the time I were in UK was a hair-gel. I used to find his hair vanity endearing, almost. Then his Mekhal happened in 2006. And as the hair was being snatched away, the tear drops (at 14 it takes a lot of guts to show up in class with that hairstyle, especially if you’ve loved your hair) fell first slowly to avoid embarrassment, and then free-flowingly soon afterwards. Everyone tried to cheer him up, but it wasn’t easy.
|Step 2: He applied for scholarship in his “Bhikshu” attire|
Ta vany kya chi karaan?
|Step 3: He was dressed up as the Mekhali Maharaja|
In the first few weeks itself, Jing asked me if caste was still an issue in India. I told her (and honestly at that) that in my age group, we didn’t really even know who was which caste. My exposure to castes really began only when I went to Pune and saw so many reservations. Of course the fact that I’ve been told that the whole Kashmiri Pandits community only has Brahmins also meant I grew up in special circumstances. The boys wear their threads as a part of their identity as Hindus- Kashmiri Pandits.
I’m a big fan of culture and preserving rituals- I think they bring meaning to our celebrations. I love spending time learning what all the small things mean. But I do wonder: what do we celebrate Mekhal for? Exclusivity for Brahmin boys who are the only ones who get educated, or just the fact that we think the Gods (or all else) would get displeased if we didn’t. On the other hand, something similar called Vidyarambham is celebrated in Kerala (highest literacy in the country) amongst all castes, gender and religions and for children who’re 4-5 years old to initiate them into education. Wouldn’t that be nice to think about-especially when I’m trying to solve India’s education problems :-)!
Needless to say, we had the greatest time with the food, songs, and gossip throughout the three days of absolute festivity.