In India, when there is a marriage procession, when the bridegroom is going to collect the bride from her house, all the preparations are the same as for a battle. The bridegroom carries a knife at his waist because in the old days collecting the bride was a kind of kidnapping. There was no love, it was done forcibly: sitting on a horse with a knife and sword the madman goes to get the bride. Is it a sane thing? – a music band and all the trappings of a battle? And the people who follow a marriage procession are all the loafers of the town. People who join in marriage processions lack character. Even if a sane man joins the procession, he goes insane. It has always been the crazy people who make up marriage processions. Why should a sane man go? And if he does go, the craziness will also surface in him.
If you take even good people, even the sanest of people in a marriage procession – they may be ministers, doctors, engineers – you will find that the marriage procession will change something in them. By joining a procession something goes wrong in them, because customarily these men were brought along in the procession to fight for the bridegroom; the girl was to be kidnapped. This is the reason why the father of the bride still bows to the bridegroom; it is an old custom. The only reason behind this bowing down is that he is saying, “There is no need to kidnap the girl, I am ready to surrender, I accept my defeat.” This is why the father of the bride is lower and the father of the bridegroom is higher. The bridegroom’s family are the winners and the father of the bride is the defeated one.
The marriage procession was coming. Nasruddin was alone near the cremation ground of the village. It was a lonely, silent moment and he became afraid. It was a cemetery, he was already afraid, and his enemies were coming! He jumped over the wall of the cemetery and lay down in a freshly dug grave. He thought: “Who will kill the already dead? The people will pass by and not notice me at all. Who will notice me lying here where there are already so many dead people? And the wall will protect me too.”
But the people only saw a man, and that he was suddenly shocked and that he jumped over the wall, so they became suspicious – he appeared to be an enemy, he was hiding. He might throw a bomb, he might do anything! They stopped the music. Then Nasruddin was certain that he was right, and now these people had seen him. He lay still, holding his breath. All the people from the procession came to see, they climbed the wall and started searching for him. Nasruddin became even more afraid: he had been certain that they were after him and now he became absolutely certain: “Why are they not just continuing on their way? Why should they climb the wall?” And when the people saw that this man was lying down in a newly-dug grave, alive and breathing – his belly was moving – they thought, “He is a troublemaker. We don’t know what his intentions are.” They surrounded the grave and bent over it from all sides. Now, how long could Nasruddin hold his breath? At last he breathed out. Then they asked him, “What are you doing here?”
Nasruddin said, “That is what I want to ask you. What you are doing here?”
They said, “Answer us – why have you come here?”
Nasruddin said, “This is what I want to ask you. You were going along the road, so why have you come here?”
By this time it became clear to Nasruddin, “They are not going to harm me, and I am not going to harm them – we just became afraid of each other.” Nasruddin said, “Now I can answer you from my side and also from your side. You are here because of me and I am here because of you.”