This was a wedding procession with a difference. There were ‘baraatis‘ dancing to popular Bollywood songs, there was merrymaking and there were celebrations.
However, the wedding procession had no groom — in its place was a wooden hammer, ‘dressed’ in silks and brocades.
This was the traditional ‘hathoda baraat’ that is organised every year by Prayag Nagrik Seva Sansthan (PNSS) in the Chowk area in Uttar Pradesh.
This year too, the procession was taken out from Kesar Vidya Peeth after the Mahamandeleshwar of Kinnar Akahara Kaushalaya Nand Giri performed the ‘aarti’ of the hammer.
“For the entire year, this special wooden hammer is kept partially decorated in the office of PNSS on a specially designed platform from where it is taken for a holy dip in the river Ganga and adorned with silk cloths and garlands like a groom,” said Sanjay Singh, convener of the special baraat.
Another strange anecdote associated with this wedding is that it is without a bride.
The wedding procession signifies the triumph of good over evil.
The special guest at the event uses the hammer to break a pumpkin which denotes evil.
“After this, the Holi celebrations begin,” said Singh.
There is no clarity over how the tradition began and for how long it has been continuing.
“All we know is that this is a tradition and we look forward to it every year,” he added.