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Ovyo Gavuya -- A Collection of Konkani Wedding Songs

"Ovyo Gavuya" ("Let us sing Ovis") is a wonderful collection of Konkani folk songs collected over a thirty year period by Dr. Jyotsna Kamat and her husband, Dr. K.L. Kamat to preserve a tradition on the decline.

At a time when the weddings spanned three to five days, lots of guests arrived and the festivities involved community singing to know each other, make jest of the mannerisms of the gathered guests, and even lessons of life. Ovyo Gavuya  CD presents all these scenarios.  With apt narration from Jyotna Kamat, voices by noted radio artist Anuradha Dhareshwar, and accompanied by specially trained Konkani ladies, the collection takes the listener back in time.

There are songs about the misery of the father of the bride (translated below), songs teasing the romance of the bride and the groom, making fun of the priest, relatives, and philosophical lessons to the newly wed.

The Ovyos are an oral tradition, and Dr. Kamat was the first to document them in the form of her popular book "Suragya Sar". All the songs here are from the book.

Sample Song: Father of the Bride (The Indian Version)

(translated from a folk song, Soirika phajiti, translated into English)

Can't describe the agony
Can't describe the hardships
of the bride's daddy.

Visited every home of fellow caste [1]
and distributed the horoscope
His shoes are worn out by wandering pillar to post
to find a suitable match
His bank account is dwindling fast
to find a suitable match for his girl

Meanwhile ticking away is bride's biological clock
worried is the bride's sister [2] and rest of the flock
All the powerful Gods are offered a bribe
in prayer for a suitable groom for the bride

Hurray, there's a match of the horoscope
Even though it means settling for less.

Accompanied by four men, he went to negotiate.

News is that groom's friend doesn't like the girl apparently
The groom's father will decide after hearing about the dowry
Grapevine has that the groom's mom is keen
Groom's sister is sitting on the fence

It's time to spend the money for the wedding
Grooms family wants lavish spending
Chiroti [3] for the friends
sarees [4] for thirty relatives

It's a time to bear the humiliation
of washing the in-law's feet
of bearing insults
of putting on a courteous mask and pleasing the groom's side
of waiting of approval which will never come

Raising the girl for eighteen years
with all the skills to be a good housewife
and a good mother
is not enough.
Worrying if she will be cared or loved after marriage
is not enough.

By the time the girl is married,
have no words to describe the agony
Can't describe the hardships
of the bride's daddy.
Lord is his only hope.
Frustration is his only friend.

Source: Ovyo Gavuya, Jyotsna Kamat, 2005

Notes:

[1] Arranged marriages are typically arranged within one's own caste
[2] In an arranged marriage system, the younger sisters are not married unless the elder sister is married.
[3] Chiroti -- A sweet delicacy usually offered in welcoming the guests
[4] Sarees -- The Indian drapes; see saree, sarees

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