The ‘Still So Much More’ in an Indian Marriage

Art by Amrit Dutta

Today as I met a friend of mine over coffee, we once again bumped over the reality how falling in love or getting married in India, may be not really simple for most of us and even if they by chance happen to be simple, traditions and customs can get one going bonkers. They can be potentially strong to even let all the love evaporate from your plate and let marriage alone wonder, as to why its even happening.

We laughed and ridiculed with pity about how marriages are hyped even before you reach the so called ‘appropriate’ age, right from the time you are born. The boy’s parent can start to wonders for a pretty bride whom they would choose for their son and the girl’s parents desires for the eligible engineer, doctor kind of bachelor as their groom right there at the hospital as they experience holding her in their arms for the first time . While all this dreaming and aspirations are on, parents to a son confidently spends on his education to their best ability knowing that it would be retrieved with pride from the bride during his wedding and coincidentally, parents to a girl, go through the drill of savings for her marriage along with her education. In most cases, there are a host of orthodox people who do not even believe in educating daughters as one day, she eventually has to get married and be gone.

Till date, browsing a matrimony site can keep you rolling with laughter if you look at the list of criteria applicable for a perfect bride. From fair complexion, to having the 10 on 10  figure, to being the perfect homemaker along with a professional job to excel, so much and so more will keep your jaws dropped. Well, for a guy, its all about working in a multinational (mind it that profiles are seldom disclosed, its all about the word ‘MNC’) and the approximate annual income figures and if by any chance he happens to be anywhere, but in India, he could turn out to be the cherry on the cake for onlooking parents and yes even the prospective girls.

Now this and many more to the history is about the age old traditions and followers but what about how the new gen takes it? I salute the guys who take marriages more like a mutual ceremony and less like transaction and stand up against the society to attempt to bring in healthy changes but the problem still lies with the crazy other half.

It is hard to believe when I came across, rather put it fairly by saying, encountered 2 young educated men employed in multinational companies talk mind blowing stuff about how much they and their families excitedly expect of gifts in cash and kind from their bride’s the family and if their unspoken wishes aren’t heard well, the wedding could need a second thought. It’s like the more you give in cash and kind the more your match is a ‘made in heaven’ kind. ” Unbeatable”, my hysterical inner voice was almost about to jump out of my vocal amplifiers and all I could do is nod my head in disgust and vent that raging suppression while I was sharing such 21st century marriage non-sense with my husband about how, marriages even today are about the mighty suitcase that a girl brings in.

Commonly hilarious and fiery concerns from the to-be bride’s family are like- curiosity about the gifts they would be offering to the to-be groom and his family. No, you can’t tag them as dowry but ritualistic yet classified gifts instead, where the more number of unknown members you count, the more dearer you become. It’s a sign of respect when you dig that big hole in your pocket and out of some socially ancient stigma arrange for the conveyance, lodging and food for the long list of unknown new people who would be accompanying the groom’s family for the ‘made in heaven’ marriage ceremony, till you realize the soup in which you just started sailing. Nope, do not expect, its not a customary or social stigma that calls for an equal respect when it could also be warm by arranging the same for the bride’s family. I mean why would it be, the world and societal hype is all dedicated to the gender of men. You may also hear till date, even in the big cities, that its completely logical to reap returns of the money invested in the guy’s education from the girl’s parents in the eventful occasion of their wedding and surprisingly that seems to be taken as the accepted norm. So much and so more again.

On the ritualistic front, the girl is meant to fast on marked days for the long life of her husband while the husband is never at an obligation to do the favour in return as they have been taught that they are The God of their wife. Pardon!! when did that happen? In many regions, we girls are expected not only to change our surnames but also our very names to become astrologically auspicious to our husband. Loosing identity for love or marriage? Blessed, are those who don’t have to make identity alternation choices.

Girls are first taught to be educated and independent and then feared with societal worries that climbing too high on the education or professional ladder can lead to not finding the appropriate husband at all and be doomed for life. ” You need to know to cook”, ” You can’t be so thin, ” You can’t be so fat” ” You can’t wear such clothes”, ” You cant speak in such a tone” ” You need to look in certain ways” and the list gets endless, all for the sake of just getting married?

Guys, can we just give it a little break? Can you even after the ages of the dinosaur, try becoming more practical and treat your relation more like it should be and make it less likely to look like a social drama of a life long transaction? Stand up for a change washing your eyes off the lucrative easy money, luxury and social show off you are trying to make here and accept that down the line your spouse would be taking care of you more in kind than you may be able to do for her in cash.So end of it, know that it’s gonna be mutual. For the ladies blinded by love or the farce of ritualistic traditions, think before you accept things down your throat, because once its down it takes a lot to bring it to the surface to let it be heard. Instead of just craving for the change how bout trying to bring the change itself. Because it is period you should accept, that your marriage does not begin as being a slice of favour served on anyone’s plate but a choice of mutual respect and responsible decision.

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