Cartoon of the Week 10: The Power of Salt

Namak Harami Korbo Naa.In the famous Bengali play “Alibaba” by Khirodprasad Bidyabinod, when the righteous dacoit chief came as a guest to Alibaba’s home – he mentioned about one diet restriction that he had – he doesn’t eat salt. Obviously his salt restriction was not because of hypertension or any other nephrological disease that he might have had (the playwright did not give any clues except that he was quite hot tempered). He didn’t want Alibaba to serve him any salty food because then he would have had to pay for his salt indebtedness. He would no longer be able to kill Alibaba and his family and loot back his wealth. He could never be a “Namak Haram”! Such is the power of salt. This mythological power of salt has been used as a test of ones righteousness. If you ever ingest salt served by somebody, you should always sing his praise – in Bengali we say “Noon khai jaar – Goon gai taar!” But these days we hardly obey such silly dictum. So, when an eligible bachelor makes his rounds with his family at potential brides homes they look forward to the traditional hospitality of being served with a sumptuous meal both sweet and salty. I know of a person who used to have is regular evening snacks at potential brides places. I even heard a story that some NRI person, before going to India on a vacation, would advertise in a Kolkata newspaper looking for a bride. Then he would visit each of the applicants house and enjoy a great meal. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of this story, but I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody nurtured such a perverse hobby.
The tradition of arranged marriage in India is a long way from being eradicated from the society. But if you do not like the girl sitting in front of the potential in-laws, at least have the courtesy to refuse the salty food being served in front of you. At least, it will give the girls family, some kind of a sign.

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