Elders in India feel most content when they see children around them getting married. Even if they aren’t their own. Everyone, from landlord to driver to relatives to neighbours to distant colleagues, is happy to know that I am getting married. The maid always gives me long, hopeful looks and waits for me to look at her and smile. I have become a kind of a specimen. Of course, they feel not too happy about me marrying so late but nevertheless. One more girl is ‘settling down’, domesticating; not ‘loitering around aimlessly’ but has found ‘direction in life’.
Every time someone congratulates me and tells me I am doing a good thing, I want to ask them – Well, you are married. You yourself should know how good it is.
Universally, or perhaps more so in India, marriage is undoubtedly a happy thing. By default. You can’t be unhappy by deciding to marry. And arranged is better. If a person goes in for an arranged married, they are ‘seedha’.
Marriage of their children is the ultimate feeling of satisfaction for parents. Most open-minded, modern families forget their modernism when it comes to marriage. The girl/boy has to be of their community. There must be no compromise in lain-dain. Oldest of customs and strangest of rituals have to be followed, come what may, even if they make no sense today and no one knows why they are being followed.
However talented and independent the girl is, her parents will be the first to compromise and bend. It’s their role, they believe. Who has bestowed them with this role? Somewhere someone in ancestral chain. Or some more customs, I suppose. Further, forgetting all talks of woman empowerment, feminism and modern society, they will teach their girl also to bend and compromise. It’s you who will have to keep quiet. It’s you who has to be patient. You have to cook; forget your travelling, friends and all. That era is over.
Many girls today go out of home for higher studies and then work. They live no differently than a male – they travel extensively, they handle responsibilities – their own and family’s, they multi-task and definitely do not need any male to help them. We can say that the line between males and females is disappearing in terms of strength, capabilities, approach and beliefs. Open-minded parents even support their girls and give them freedom / environment to become totally independent and self-sufficient. And yet when she is about to marry, they expect her to be docile, undemanding and compromising.
Indian weddings are more of show than reality. The dresses are according to what people would like to see. The decor is to impress guests. The gold is to be showed off. The gifts are to please the other side.
Contrary to what is shown in movies, where ladies peacefully play dhol, kids run around happily, the bride-to-be giggles endlessly and the house is adorned with flowers, this ‘shaadi ka ghar’ is full of stress and panic. Wedding cards are strewn all over the house. We keep packing them at regular intervals of the day and run around disbursing them. All my stuff that I brought along with me has taken over the whole first floor. It is difficult to walk in my room without treading over packages and boxes. We are constantly making lists, forever disappointed at lists not getting complete and perennially tired.
Everyone is just waiting for this to be done with.
Remember your first Board exams? How people grilled into you how critical Board is and what calamity would occur if you perform badly? Didn’t you want to puke or just dissolve in air?
Though I see faint light at the end of the dark, dark tunnel, the thought of wedding rituals and the whole rigmarole of guests, formalities and long days make my stomach churn with uneasiness. This is something I am not used to. Nor did I ever realize before that this grind would be so difficult to adapt.
I just wish Indian wedding procedures were simpler and less superficial.