"She is my daughter now"
Dressed in bright red
clothes embroidered with gold, bedecked with various kinds of diamonds,
pearl and gold ornaments, as befitted a newly wedded daughter-in-law of a
leading Sikh business family of Delhi and the daughter of an equally rich
Sikh family of Rohtak, stood Harsarn, with the body of a few hours old
husband, Dulara Singh, also dressed in fancy clothes befitting the scion of
an aristocratic family. The Kalgi-adorned turban had fallen besides the
blood besmirched head. The smile evoked by a whisper from his head-bent
bride had frozen. He still looked every inch a bridegroom and a Sardar in
the full bloom of youth. The smashed car in which they had travelled, stood
facing the brick laden truck, the cause of the tragedy. The other three
occupants of the car consisting of the bride's younger brother, bridegroom's
sister and the driver had escaped with minor injuries and the bride had
They were soon surrounded
by other members of the Barat, travelling behind in a long caravan of cars
and two contracted buses. The car driver and cleaner of the truck also stood
with bowed heads. The accident was also attracting the other passers-by and
people working in the adjacent areas.
As soon as the shock was
over, practical questions arose. The most important question was as regards
the fate of Harsarn, the bride. Different opinions were expressed and
advises were rendered to the Man, bridegroom's father Sardar Bahadur1 Gurnam
Singh, who was to make the fateful, ultimate decision.
General opinion was that,
as the bride had brought ill-lick, she should be sent back to her parents
immediately and not taken to Delhi. Sardar Bahadur had kept listening to all
this, without expressing any opinion of his own. When every one, that
mattered, had his/her say, he called his profusely but silently weeping wife
who had tendered no opinion, to one side and had a brief consultation with
her. Then he called to his side his long time friend from Pakistan days,
Dewan Badri Prashad. They had a hurried discussion and then Gurnam Singh
came back to the side of the body and announced several decisions in a firm
He said, "the Bride was
his daughter now and would travel with the family to Delhi." He asked his
wife to take aside the bride, give her water and solace. He requested Dewan
Sahib to take the bride in his car separately and immediately to his own
house in Delhi along with the bride's brother and his daughter.
When Dewan Sahib's car
had left, he diverted his attention to his son's body. The police had
meanwhile arrived. Due to his vast influence and prestige the police
released the body in a comparatively short time. The barat, transformed into
a funeral procession, then proceeded towards Delhi.
During the subsequent
funeral ceremonies, no one mentioned a single word against the bride in
deference to the express wishes of the Sardar.
The Bhog ceremony ! was
attended by hundreds of relations and friends of the two families. Unrelated
persons had also poured in large numbers to express sympathy for the grave
tragedy. In the vast multitude, that also hung a silent but loud question.
What had the Sardar decided as to the fate of his widowed daughter-in-law
whose marriage had not even been consummated.
The Bhog ceremony came to
an end with the usual Ardas begging for eternal peace to the departed soul
and asking for strength for the survivors to bear the unbearable loss. On
Gurnam Singh's request, the Bhai Sahib performing the Ardas had also invoked
Akal-Purkh to give peace and special strength to his newly acquired
The people departed
singly and in groups without having had their question, as to the fate of
the widowed bride, answered.
After the people, who had
come to mourn, had departed, Gurnam Singh invited Harsarn's parents that he
had consulted his wife and the younger son and it was with their full
consent, that he was requesting them with folded hands to permit Harsarn to
wed his younger son and remain the daughter of the family which she had
already become. Harsarn's parents were taken aback and were dumbfounded. He
further said that both of them could consult in private and also take
Harsarn into confidence. With this he left the drawing room with his wife
and son, to give Harsarn's parents time to ponder.
Earlier, Sardar Gurnam
Singh, with the full concurrence of his wife, had begged Piara Singh, his
younger son, to accept Harsarn as his bride. He had also offered to add to
the expected inheritance of Piara Singh, the share of the deceased Dulara
Singh. Piara Singh had kept silent with a bent head for a few minutes and
then with his head still bent, had replied as always he would carry out the
wishes of his respected parents. He refused to take the share of his dead
brother and requested his parents to do with it as they pleased.
After about half an hour,
Harsarn's parents came out and with tear-brimmed eyes thanked Sardar and
Sardarni Gurnam Singh and Piara Singh for their magnificent offer and
expressed their willingness to consult their daughter Harsarn. There upon,
the five of them drove to Dewan Badri Prashad's house.
Harsarn's parents were
with their daughter alone for about fifteen minutes. There after Harsarn
came out, fell at the feet of Sardar and Sardarni Gurnam Singh and said she
was blessed for being accepted as the daughter of such saints.
(Gratefully reproduced from "Glimpses
of Greatness" by Dr. Gajindar Singh)