CHENNAI, 21 Jan 2009: It was not a a fairy tale yanked out of a children’s story book but a real life ritual, where a minor girl was married off to a frog in a remote village in southern India.
Hoping that the century-year-old ritual would ward off evil and bring good omen to Pallu Puthupattu village, located about 150 km from C hennai, eight-year-old R.Vigneshwari was chosen as the bride of the hour.
On 16 Jan, during the harvest festival, after much ordeal, the villagers ushered the frog, fished out of a local temple pond, to the venue where the bride, clad in bridal finery, was waiting.
All the Hindu wedding rituals were performed. Half the villager played the role of bridegroom’s relatives while the other acted as part of the bride’s entourage at the temple ceremony.
“It is widely believed among villagers that the frog is a reincarnation of Lord Siva. Every year, this marriage is being organised. They believe that if they don’t do the annual ritual, girl children would die unnaturally or houses in villages would go up in flames and famine would attack.
“We cannot change their beliefs. We could see that females aged 80 or 70 had performed such marriages in their childhood,” S Geetha, a local women’s rights activist, told Bernama.
The village priest tied the nuptial string on the bride on behalf of the groom and the villagers solemnly blessed the “newly married couple” by showering rice and even offering small amounts of money as wedding gift.
After the marriage, the frog was returned to its natural habitat while the bride went home.
Geetha said it was customary for the village elders to select a girl who had yet to attain puberty for the ritual. Another 11-year old girl had been slated to marry next year.
The village legend goes that the people suffered from frequent natural calamities and sickness, like outbreaks of cholera, and this ritual was piously performed for divine blessing to help ease their hardship, she said.