My cousin, twice removed (or is it three), invited me for her sons engagement in the temple yesterday. Its kind of hard to describe the relationship but her maternal grandfather was my paternal great grandmothers son by her first husband. Confusing? Yep, but interesting!
My paternal great Grandmother married some man called Mr Gurm, he died pretty early but they did have a son together (this son is my cousins Maternal Grandfather). In India what they do to 'save' the honour of the family, in case the widow got unwanted attention from male members of the family, is to get her married again in the same family to a younger brother. Which is what my great grandmother did. She married the younger Mr Gurm, who was my great grandfather.
She went on to have 5 daughters and another son (my grandfather).
I rarely head to the temple for prayers or Sunday services. I am not a believer of religion and frankly the Punjabi community are not my favourite bunch of people either. I only turn up at the temple when there is an invitation for a relatives wedding/engagement/funeral, which is like once a year or so, like yesterday.
We dress up to impress each other in our fine Punjabi Suits and jewelry and we watch each other to see if ladies are in the latest fashion and gossip about who did what and who chased her mother in law out and did you hear about that poor woman who committed suicide etc etc. I hate gossip and although have indulged in it, I try my best not to pass on malicious rumours, hearsay and snide comments on people I have never met. I have been the brunt of the same when I eloped with my ex (that's a whole different post!!) and when I divorced him. I know how Hester Prynne must have felt!!
Sitting amongst my own people usually leaves me feeling terribly isolated.
I am being mean when I give this post such a heading, but frankly that is what it felt like yesterday.
The custom of celebrating an engagement in the temple also includes the giving of blessing to the parents in the form of cash. Men pass the blessing to the father of the groom to be and women to the mother (bloody old fashioned and sexist but....) and I did my part to try to get to my cousin to pass her the 'blessings". First I had to brave two dozen women who were pushing and shoving me out of the way to get to her, I got poked in the ribs, smacked in the head and even an elbow millimetres away from my eye. By the time I got to my cousin, I just handed her the money and said" I'll see you later when women were not pushing so hard." Not a good blessing to give but by then I had had enough but was looking forward to lunch.
In the Sikh religion, after any service or celebration, food is always served.. Its a must really to feed the congregation. Any one from any religion, caste or creed is allowed to go into a Sikh Temple and be fed after a service, whether or not you know the people who paid for the food that day. Its good wholesome vegetarian food with something sweet for dessert. Punjabi's have a terrible sweet tooth, and we make traditional sweetmeats on all occasions even funerals to celebrate the life that the person had led (only the older deceased people get sweets at their funerals though)
We had to wait as I have never seen so many people at the temple before which of course translated to long queues for the food. Its not so much people coming to pray in the temple but it is more of a social gathering, a place to meet and chat, parade their unwed daughters and eat free food. Emphasis on the free food.
So Sunday morning for me was going back to my roots and being part of the gathering of village idiots.