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A Wedding Procession and 15 Burnt Houses: Stark Contrast of Fortunes Every Few Metres in Delhi

Wedding celebrations are held and rituals are performed at a temple in Gokulpur on Wednesday amid the large-scale violence.

Wedding celebrations are held and rituals are performed at a temple in Gokulpur on Wednesday amid the large-scale violence.

The groom's nephew said the wedding went ahead despite most of the guests not being able to attend and some vendors cancelling at the last minute.

New Delhi: Even as dense black smoke from charred houses was rising up all around, Vicky and his family were dancing to the beats of a dhol. The 28-year-old married on Tuesday, and the following morning, he celebrated the occasion with his family at a temple in Gokulpur.

Within walking distance from it, in Gokulpuri, more than 15 houses were burned down and several people suffered grievous injuries. One person from the area is still missing.

“Saadi byah ka maamla is sab se thodi ruke hai (Marriages, weddings, these things don’t stop because of all this)!” said Vishal Gehlot the dhol player. ‘This’ being a reference to mass-scale communal riots, in Gokulpuri and other parts of northeast Delhi, in which 39 people have been declared dead so far.

Apart from Vicky and his bride, the rest of the venue, Shiv Mandir, was full of the women of the house. One by one, each of them stepped forward and after a little dance with Vicky, hit him with a small branch of neem. Vicky returned the favour with equal force.

It is called “Santi Santa”. This is part of the ceremony when a wedding happens in the family that belongs to barber community. “The groom is hit by the senior women in the house and he also lightly taps them with a small branch as songs are sung,” Ramkaran Mishra, the head priest of the temple, said. Egging both the ladies and the bridegroom to hit each other harder, five men of the house, were also present at the temple.

Abhishek, Vicky’s nephew, said the wedding went ahead despite most of the guests not being able to attend. “Yes, we were scared and yes we faced a lot of difficulties. The horse we had booked for the wedding and the dhol players cancelled at the last minute because of the riots. We had to make last minute arrangements. But the wedding has happened joyfully and that’s what matters at the end,” he said.

The bride was from Loni, Uttar Pradesh. That’s where the wedding happened on Tuesday. “We had invited around 250 guests but only 40 people were able to able to attend the wedding. Other didn’t came because of riots. Lots of food and other arrangements were left untouched. Even some very close relatives from Bhajanpura and around couldn’t come for the wedding,” Abhishek said.

Not even 5 km away from the venue of this celebration, in Bagirathi colony and in Shiv Vihar, fire tenders were rushing to douse flames that had been set to houses and shops earlier that morning.

A hardware owner was mourning the loss of his shop, workers at a sweet shop were in a state of shock. In the smoldering remains of their workplace they had just discovered the charred body of one of their co-workers who had gone missing since Tuesday.

Victims of gunshot wounds, with other fatal injuries were still being brought to GTB hospital, bodies were still being unearthed, fires were being put out. But in this corner of Gokulpuri, against the sirens of ambulance and fire engine, sounds of the dhol drowned all other sounds and smiles were beaming on everyone’s face.