| Pradip Kumar and Suman Kumari. Telegraph pictures
Patna, May 19: Grooms in this country have been turning down otherwise eligible brides, who are deemed “too dark”. But in the otherwise dark district of Gopalganj in Bihar, it was a bride’s turn to object to the groom’s complexion. At least that is what local television channels, news agencies and newspapers would have people believe.
Pradip Kumar (21) is quoted as saying that when he arrived with 50 relatives and friends to wed Suman (18), the bride’s family refused to solemnise the marriage because of his dark complexion.
It is not known if he sang the old hit, Hum kaale hain to kya huwa, dilwale hain (What if I am dark, my heart is deep or at the right place). But reports speak of him offering a form of Gandhian satyagraha and a dharna for 48 hours before the bride relented.
Kumar, a mason, had set out to wed Suman, daughter of a daily-wage earner who lived a few kilometres away under the same police station of Bhore. The bride herself has a complexion best described as “wheatish”. But her friends apparently whispered their disapproval of the “dark” groom, prompting her to leave the mandap, the place where the wedding was to be solemnised.
The groom, in turn, refused to budge without the bride. The marriage could not be solemnised on May 12 and the groom’s entourage also refused to move. They spent the night under a canopy put up in front of the bride’s house. The growing power of television was evident when a local channel arrived to record his sound byte. The groom obliged and said: “Hum kaale hain, isiliye shaadi karne se mana kar rahi hai (as I am dark, the girl is refusing to marry me”).
The story had obvious contradictions. The two families lived so close to each other that it appears improbable that the bride could have been in the dark about any “dark secret” of the groom.
Indeed, the bride’s family has a different take, not given any credence by the media in search of sensation. The bride, they claim, refused to marry the boy because his father demanded at the last moment, as many fathers are still wont to do, to demand a higher dowry than was agreed upon.
In any case, they added, the bride’s father and other family members had seen the groom and described him to the girl. But once the bride put her foot down, the groom’s family decided to give up their demand.
But then dowry demands having lost their novelty, the enterprising media latched on to the bride’s alleged thumbs down to the colour code.