“I don’t believe in this institution or the whole idea of marriage”, says one of my very dear friends and she loves to live her life by this convention. There are many more who swear by the very word “marriage” and feel that one day some prince charming will come and sweep them over on his shoulder to carry them with him to the land of paradise, where they will live happily ever after.
Many women do grow up with this notion and all through their adolescence, they dream about it. For some, the dream comes true and for some it does turn out to be a nightmare. In the early times, when there was not much awareness in terms of education, financial freedom and of course the whole idea of treating daughters and sisters as people who needed protection, care and support, it made sense for the elders and other family members to choose a boy and get the women of their household married off.
Marriage as an idea has changed a lot. It has always been a ritual to publically gain acceptance for staying together. Nowadays, it has taken more of a legal perspective with pre-nuptial agreements and marriage certificates becoming dominant. This of course is to allow the couple to seek some relief in case the union does not turn out to be fruitful.
The conventions and the rules and laws that surround the idea and institution of marriage do not make much sense to me. I agree we need some rules and laws governing the union of two people just to safeguard their interests, but given a free hand I would like to give marriage an interesting twist.
Most of the Hindu marriages in northern part of our country are solemnized in the later part of the day. The priests, who are hunted with the desperation of a hungry predator, refer through reams and reams of the lunar and solar calendar, and inevitably come up with a late night “muhurat” for the marriage. I feel they surely have some grudge with their patrons to make them go through the late night ritual. Or maybe they have learnt to work the night shift post the BPO boom! Mine was one of the late night weddings and through half of the long drawn marriage rituals both I and my husband were dozing off. All happened in a hazed and dazed pattern. I would therefore, strongly recommend abolishing all the late night “muhurats” from the numerous Hindu calendars that we have.
Weddings anywhere are judged by the number of people attending the whole affair and gorging on the food laid out for them. Some of the guests start fasting from a day before to build a healthy appetite for the wedding feast. Having a free meal with a large spread to choose from is a dream come true for many invitees. There is always the parting words by many who say “very nice food”, “great taste, who was the caterer?”. As if they would invite the same caterer to their own wedding ceremony. For a marriage, I would like to have only immediate family members and very close friends. It is after all, a sacred union of two human beings and not a food fest. This could then be followed, after a day or two with a party where the couple gets a right to choose whom to invite.
Typical of an Indian marriage are the various rituals. If it is an inter caste marriage, which has been painstakingly arranged, then you are in for the umpteen rituals to be concluded from both sides of the family before you are declared officially married. It is so long drawn that 4-5 hours just fly away without anyone noticing except maybe the bride and groom, who need to keep changing into various attires to suit the specific ritual. More so for the girl who in some of the cultures in India has to go through 3-4 saree changes all through the marriage. It feels almost like a Lakme fashion week, where models keep walking the ramp with different attires. Given a choice, I would like to make it mandatory to just wear a single outfit all through the marriage and may be, if the reception takes place a day after, wear a different outfit for the same.
No Indian marriage concludes without heaps of gifts, which includes some hundreds of clothes from the girl’s side to be given to the boy’s side. This is apart from whatever the parents wish to give their daughter (a subtle, sophisticated yet, profound form of dowry). This is put across so causally that it appears as if this is the norm. One of the other aspects is the guests who come in, apart from enjoying the feast laid out for them, do come with as many gifts as possible. Gold jewellery forms the top rung of the gift ladder. The more, the merrier. What happens to the gifts post the marriage, no one really cares. I would like to leave the option of gifts, especially by the guests, with the bride and groom. It would also make sense to be direct enough in the invite to let people know that gifts in kind are passé. It is the age of retail and online shopping, gift vouchers or cash would be a better gift than anything else. This will allow the bride and groom to choose what they wish to buy post their marriage.
The more lavish the marriage, the more happening it is. No idea where this notion came from but weddings in India are elaborate. They are colourful and super lavish. Right from the sumptuous food spread, to the grand decorations, to the wedding dais, to the place where the garlands will be exchanged etc. are thought through with the event planners. It is no surprise that the marriage event management industry runs into crores of rupees. Given a choice, I would twist this grand gala lavish marriage ceremonies into a more simple and straightforward affair. It would make more sense of the couple to remember the vows that they take during the ceremony than remember how many lamps were lit and how many flower garlands were used to decorate the mandap.
What is ultimately important is the union of two souls; you can give it any name or just leave it as it is. There are many couples who are staying happily without being married and on the other end of the spectrum there are many more that choose to take the plunge and tie the knot and to an extent commit themselves. Again marriage could be termed as a social necessity or could also be understood as long term commitment to stay together legally bound. Whatever be the scenario, ultimately what matters is the compatibility between two people, what matters is the ability to connect at a physical, emotional and intellectual level. This is important, since love alone cannot sustain a marriage or any relationship, although it definitely is an important ingredient to make an exciting concoction know as a relationship. A lot of people chose to stay single and enjoy life till they meet a person with whom they can connect at all levels. If you are married then try to connect more often with your better half for a more enriching experience and if you are still single and found “that special someone” think thoroughly before you chose to take the plunge and if you are still searching for “that special someone” then all the best, happy searching !
-Susmita Shroff Susmita Shroff is MBA (Finance). She is a homemaker and freelance mentor. She writes for pleasure and is a voracious reader