Caste 2: November 18th

Nanowrimo word count 911 running total 27,126

Caste 2: My family caste is carpenters and iron-workers. Traditionally, the job was making furniture and working alongside farmers keeping tools and carts fit for purpose.
When a family celebrated a wedding in the village, the brahmin would set an auspicious date, the nai family would help with organising, the jheer would wash the dishes, the cleaner would keep the house clean, new pots and jars would be made by the potter, the marassi would play music. After the ceremony, members of the LGBTQ community would come to dance and give blessings. A role for everyone.
When I was in India, a collection was made from all the houses around the square where we lived. Everyone said we are going to celebrate Lord Shiva’s wedding by inviting a group of singers and storytellers. We slept on rope beds on the flat roof from where we had a good view of the square where the actors performed. The storytelling (it went on for three nights) was in Sanskrit. I only remember the beginning, I always fell asleep before the end of the evening.

Lord Shiva sent the go-between (the nai) to the parents of his bride-to-be to start off the proceedings for the wedding. When the nai arrived at the King’s palace, he was told, ‘We are honoured by Lord Shiva’s message, but we do not have a daughter.’ The nai was puzzled, but he returned to the Lord, who said, ‘Yes, they have a daughter, and she will be my wife. Repeat my request to them.’ This happened a few times until the King called for his son. The prince agreed that he was a woman and had even fooled his/her (their?) parents.
I have always wondered at this story. In these times of gender fluidity, it seems very modern to accept that the King’s son was a woman. Or perhaps, over thousands of years we lost that empathy with difference.


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