The "Kohbar" painting is filled with rich imagistic detail, each contributing significance to the meaning of the whole. The dominant theme is pond life, filled with lifeforms and abundant in its productive powers. The painting seeks to insure fertility of the bride and groom who, as when a seed is dropped into a pond, should produce offspring abundantly.



Faces in the six leaves of the lotus plant (puren) represent the bride, whose fertility is likened to lotus itself, rooted in the life source, the pond. This design was traditionally painted for the "second marriage," i.e., a repeat of the wedding ceremonies after the bride reached puberty and would go to live permanently with her husband. For "second marriage," the female faces in the lotus blossoms are painted open. Nowadays, since girls marry at a later age (16 or later), the custom of two complete marriage cycles is falling away.


The parrot carries a leaf in its beak, while an insect forages in a blossom. These nature images evoke the omnipresent ponds in Mithila, invariably clogged with growth of lotus and water lily, and filled with all manner of aquatic life.

All the paintings of the kohbara ghar are in the interest of the bride and groom. They are meant to assure a romantic bond between husband and wife, which will lead to his permanent affection for her and to their reproductivity---as richly as the reproductivity of lotus in the pond. This scene is again Gauri Puja, where the bride leads in worship of the goddess who has brought her this husband.

Bride and groom are carried by doli to the groom's house to begin their married life. They are not looking at each other. The bride has her head modestly turned down and the veil pulled far farward over her face. It also signifies the emotional tension of a bride being carried away from her father's house to live among the strangers of her husband's family and village.

The vidkari is the the knowledgeable woman who leads the bride through the phases of the wedding ritual, for which there is never a rehearsal and which the bride cannot even see, as her head must be completely veiled throughout it all. The fan--said to cool the bride--is also the sign of the vidkari's authority, with magical connotations. A similar painted figure appears at each corner of the kohbara ghar, part of the magical control of the husband's affections desired by kohbara ghar art.

Bamboo is an invariable part of kohbar, frequently as stylized as this one. Bamboo is a visual play on a verbal pun; the words for "lineage" and for "bamboo" are almost identical (bans and baans). The women artists iconize the husband's patrilineage as a stand of bamboo. The future of the groom's patrilineage is assured with the arrival of a bride of good family.

Surya, the sun, and Chandra, the moon, are among the gods who watch and witness the marriage of bride and groom. The nine planets are also usually depicted. Agni is present in the sacrificial fire.

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