Thursday, September 1

Bengali brides for Punjabi men

Men from Punjab's Malwa region, notorious for its skewed sex-ratio, are bringing girls from Bengal to marry, for a payment, reports Jatinder Preet in The Sunday Guardian
Nishabar Singh of Lehra in Sangrur district paid Rs 50,000 to arrange for a bride from Kolkata for his 35-year-old son Dulla. Tek Ram from the same village, who arranged the match, insists this does not amount to purchasing the bride. The money was for arrangements on weddings and other expenses, he claims. Among other expenses he includes the money that has to be paid to the person arranging the match in Kolkata.
Known as Teku in the area, he himself is married to a girl from Kolkata. Teku says he is just helping others who cannot find suitable brides in Punjab.
Take the case of Dulla, he explains. Dulla was a drug addict and was known to be a petty thief. His father Nishabar Singh, knowing well that he would not find a match for his "ageing" son in Punjab, approached Teku. Teku, who has his wife's family in Kolkata and has the experience of arranging many such inter-cultural matches, found a girl for Dulla.
"There is so much poverty there," he observes when recounting his first trip to Kolkata 15 years ago as an assistant to a truck driver. "It's not only about Dulla, I also helped a needy family who could not afford to spend on their daughter's marriage," he says.
A girl from another poor Bengali family was brought to Punjab by Mithu Singh of Lehragaga when his first wife died at childbirth. 35-year-old Mithu refuses to talk about it.
Puran Singh from village Khokhar found a Bengali bride after he could not find a suitable girl here. Similarly, another girl, Rinki from Kolkata is married to a truck driver from village Jawanda. Her sister Tikli is married into another Punjabi family in Malerkotla.
Teku says he has arranged around 25-30 such marriages in the area. There are many girls ready to be married to anybody who can pay for it, he claims. Teku talks of a girl in Kolkata whose family has approached him to look for a man in Punjab to marry her off. All he knows of the girl is that she is fair and is around 22-23 years of age. "It's my responsibility," he says, vouching for the girl as he cites his own marriage as a successful experiment.
His wife Pinki plays down the scope for any problems because of cultural differences. She was married to Teku 15 years ago and like any other girl who adopts her husband's family and their ways, she too has adapted herself, she says in fluent Punjabi. She asserts that she is happy here and adds, "Men are alike everywhere."