It was late night in Jan of 1994. Five of us sitting in Hall 2 Galaxy Control Room and thinking what we could do for next days publicity event. Ideas came and were dismissed for various reasons. The night was getting longer and the ideas were going from bad to worse. We needed a way to reboot ourselves but what could we do at almost 3AM in the morning. The usual way of rebooting by chai and Maggi was also not availabe as an option. So we decided to follow the nature, yes answer natures call together. All of us just got up and went to the toilet on Hall 2 ground floor to pee. The idea was that when some fluids go out, some ideas might come in. And they did.
Nimar Singh Arora said, let us organize a marriage.
Wow, that sounded good, grand and great. In Galaxy, publicity events were all about that. I was not much of an idea guy but more about execution and this idea looked like a great one so we quickly figured out all the things we have to do.
First thing was to figure out who is going to get married and how will this marriage align with our team’s story and theme. Figuring out the guy was easier but figuring out the girl was much tougher. Those were the days when it was tough to convince girls for such things. We finally zeroed in on one of our batchmates. She agreed. The guy was also decided, it was Zubin Irani. I still remember the expression on his face when I woke him up early morning and told him that I have fixed his marriage. As it it happens in Indian filmi marriages, we had a twist. The girl who had agreed to be the bride went back on her commitment. And now we were back to looking for another bride. Thankfully another batchmate agreed and we were all set. Another part of the marriage event was linking this marriage to our publicity theme. That was easily achieved as marriage was followed by murder of the bride by some jealous girls and that was interwoven with our theme.
Second thing was to figure out a horse. You can’t have a marriage without a horse in North India. So early morning it was me, Gautam and Navneet headed to Kalyanpur to find a horse for the marriage. Now all of us are 18-20 year olds and talking to horse vendors that we were organising a marriage which is not actually a marriage and we needed a horse for that. You can very well guess the type of looks we got from people. But anyways we were able to convince a vendor to come over to IIT with a decorated barati horse.
Third thing was to figure out a Pundit for the event. Khemani was the perfect guy for that. He was short, a bit plump and had an amazing sense of humour. He fitted perfectly in the role and agreed immediately. He did all his preparations with costumes, Mantras and other things he was supposed to do.
So finally with all the preparations, we were all set to get started from Hall 2 towards Girl’s Hostel with barat. Getting lot of people for barat was never a problem as this was a very different idea and anyways in those days everyone was keen to participate to help your hostel win.
And our first obstacle came as soon as the barat started from Hall 2. The groom was set, the pundit was set, all the baratis were all set but the horse just refused to move. We knew all the tricks to convince humans or atleast we thought so but what can we do with a horse. We asked the horse caretaker to make the horse move but he said it won’t move till it sees a good amount of cash. We explained the caretaker that we are students and this is anyways not a real marriage. We also explained him about how low our budgets were but the horse won’t budge to our budget constraints. The caretaker told us that he can understand our situation but his horse is a barati horse and he is programmed not to move till he sees some currency notes. Finally a deal was negotiated and the horse moved forward.
The march to Girl’s Hostel happened with lot of fanfare and even our opponents Hall 3 were amazed to see the participation and enthusiasm. Our final destination was the garden outside GH and that is where Khemani showed his true colours. His mantras were hilarious and the way he conducted the marriage is something that will remain etched in our memories for decades. The marriage obviously ended with a murder to align with our theme and story but overall this event was one of the biggest highlight in the entire galaxy.
PS: I am trying to recall this after 30 years so I would have forgotten many details, people and incidents so if you remember something just write to me and I will add it.
PPS: I am intentionally not mentioning girl’s names in this article as some of them might have objections or at least that is what my assumptions are.
PPPS: Galaxy is a cultural event in IIT Kanpur where hostels compete with each other on various things. Publicity is one big part of this where you choose a theme as a team and then organize events aligned with that theme. Over the years this has evolved to Hall 1 ki barat.