Life brings with a plethora of experiences, each with a flavour of its own. I wish to share with all my readers these various experiences and observations that I have made during my time here on this planet. They may be funny, thought-provoking or simple reflections. I do hope you will find these enjoyable and interesting.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

The Big Fat Indian Wedding Drama

Some terminologies and concepts bring a smile to the face. Indian weddings, when they are not driving people (read the bride's family) to tears, generally serve as a cause of tremendous amusement. 

Just take for instance the way the weddings are orchestrated. The age old custom of "arranged marriages" was the norm till such time as "love marriages" appeared on the scene. To a casual listener, not quite familiar with the Indian way of thinking, both would sound odd. 

Arranged marriages generally implied (in earlier times) that the bride and the bridegroom did not know each other and probably did not even see each other till after the wedding ceremony. That they did not see each other during the wedding ceremony was taken care of in many communities by making the bridegroom wear a sehra (a decoration of flowers or beads covering his face), the bride had to wear a ghoonghat (a head dress to cover her face). Probably they were making that one or the other did not faint after seeing the others' face and the wedding did not fall through.  The spouse came gift wrapped, so to say, and the gift could be seen only after the priests had put their stamp of approval on the proceedings.

The rule (followed by people of decent upbringing and of good cultural and traditional values) says: "You shall not love before getting married.  It is a shame for the family and for the community.  Once married, it little matters whether you love your spouse or not, our responsibility is done.  Love/Like/Lump him/her."

I am reminded of a tweet by a certain famous personality goes, "All your life you are taught not to talk to strangers; Suddenly you are asked to sleep with one!" Well, that is the very Indian concept of virtue. 

Oh well, this concept obviously did not go down too well with some youngsters. Or maybe Cupid is very favourably disposed to certain types. So he introduces them to each other and they fall very much in love. Parental and societal disapproval rate is pretty high - "Aaj kal ke chora chori kya love shove ke chakkar mein padte hain" or "onga paiyan oru ponnai luv panaran" translated as "your son is doing love to one girl" (Please don't get any wrong ideas here.  It is just the colloquial expression for "to be in love".  Every possible means at their disposal gets deployed in the war against youngsters who "do love". The moral police of the country has recently started rounding up Romeos and Juliets holding hands at street corners or in the local park.  Other self help methods employed by the parents include locking up the girl at home, getting judgments passed against the couple for indulging in such extraordinary behaviour such as loving each other or worse still marrying the person they love (the khap panchayats are very helpful and obliging to parents in this matter), emotional blackmail - parents having heart attacks, threatening suicide or refusing food (wouldn't it be a good idea to distribute this excess food to the starving millions in this country?). Now the youngsters are only left with one option viz. to elope, go to the nearest court or temple and get married. No parents, no shamiana, no dowry, no wedding trousseau, no guests, no five star catering, no gifts, no wedding photographs, no album, no video-shideo .......  What an anti-climax.  After the excitement of a whirlwind romance, the wedding becomes a very sedate one.  They did break a very important rule of Indian married life, did they not?     

Well, the younger generation is pretty smart. Or at least some of them are. They do not like the idea of an arranged marriage, they “do love”, they want to get married, but they do not want to miss out on the side benefits – obviously they have to keep pappa and mamma happy. So what do they do? Sweet talk the old man and old woman and make them believe it was their idea in the first place to get these two married. The parents are happy to believe that it is an arranged marriage – parents arranged it, parents spent the money, parents invited a lot of guests, spent a lot on trousseau, shamiana, band-baaja, food ........ and happy young couple get a lot of gifts. They are happy posing with parents for the photographs and videos. They have a long line of visitors waiting with bouquets / gifts / envelopes containing cash in their hands to be handed over to couple; the obliging couple pose with them too, with bouquet and have a picture taken (guests now can have photographic evidence to prove they did not partake of the food for nothing. They honourably spent money to gift the couple something or other. Besides the couple and their parents have an idea of who gave what / how much, so when they are invited to said guest's son's wedding, they will pay back (in terms of gift or cash or boquet) to same tune. Such a wedding where everyone is happy is called a "love cum arranged marriage"

The parents are no less creative these days.  They introduce the eligible prospectives, allow them to talk for anything varying from 15 minutes to a week.  Then they "convince" the youngsters that the choice was entirely left to them and that they had the last word in fixing the deal.  Such weddings are termed "facilitated weddings".  Parents only "help" by "introducing" the main parties to each other. 

Now things have gone one step further.  This is the age of IT.  So everything is decided by the computer.  Computer plays role of astrologer.  Computer plays the mediator by introducing parties with similar interests to each other.  Wedding photos are put up on Facebook for everyone to see.  If the wedding ends in misery or divorce, it gets discussed on various forums.  Virtual friends help sort out issues, or advice consulting a lawyer. 

And soon the next generation arrives on the scene to carry on our rich and varied heritage or to add more variations to it.