Radha (left) with her mother-in-law Leela at their house on Wednesday. Picture by Nantu Dey
Raiganj, Feb. 12: Leela Rajvor lost her eldest son in yesterday’s car crash in Malda that also took the lives of 14 of her relatives. Some villagers told the Rajvors that their newly-wed daughter-in-law had brought them bad luck. The family drove them away.
Yesterday, when the wedding party of 15 was returning to Karandighi from Malda after the marriage of Leela’s younger son Satyam, their SUV crashed into a truck on NH34. The 15 wedding guests and the driver died. Among them was Gautam, Leela’s eldest son.
Gautam had passed out of college and got a job as a civic policeman recently. He was supposed to join work today, Leela, 50, said. “Gautam was the eldest of my three sons. He did not want to get married. So I found a match for my second son.”
When his death was mentioned, she said: “This was my fate. I had three children. God has taken one away but has given me another — my daughter-in-law. I will never blame her.”
She regretted that the family could not welcome the bride as she would have been, had such tragedy not fallen on the Rajvors.
When people from neighbouring villages gathered at their home and said the new daughter-in-law was “unlucky” for the family, they were shooed away yesterday. The family did not allow the villagers to accompany them for the cremation. The deceased persons were all from Maganbhita, the village where the Rajvors live, 30km from Raiganj.
Today, people were seen dismantling the pandal that had been erected for the bou bhaat — the ceremony to welcome a bride to her new household. The community meal was postponed as Hindu customs do not allow celebrations for a certain number of days in the case of a death in the family. Inside the house, women consoled Leela.
Husband Kartik said: “Yesterday, we rushed to the spot after someone called from Gautam’s mobile phone to say there had been an accident. It was shocking to see my eldest son and so many relatives lying dead. I fainted. Satyam’s bride is my new daughter. After the mourning period and the rituals for the dead are over, we will have the bou bhaat.”
“Yesterday, when the bodies arrived here, some people said the bride had brought bad luck to the village. We drove them away and did not allow them to go to the burning ghat. We will not allow such superstitions to prevail in the minds of the villagers,” said Abdul Kabir, who runs a grocery shop.
Satyam said: “We have requested the pradhan to organise an awareness campaign against blaming newly-wed women for things beyond their control.”
Congress pradhan Mimira Bibi said: “In many cases, after such incidents, the brides are called unlucky or branded witches and turned out of the house. This village has set an example. Since yesterday, not a single house has lit the kitchen fire. We are sending khichdi for the villagers.” She added that the panchayat would organise a camp as suggested by Satyam. “The family has requested us to hold an awareness camp after the mourning period is over and we will do that.”
Radha, the bride, said she was happy that she had been married into such a family. “As soon as we heard about the accident, all of us feared that I would be rejected by my in-laws and their relatives. I was moved by the way my in-laws and my husband have accepted me.”
North Dinajpur district magistrate Smita Pandey said: “I will organise awareness camps throughout the district and use this village as a model.”