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December 8, 1997


Farzana Versey

Wedding Blues

Dominic Xavier's illustration Now that the marriage season is upon us, let us for the moment forget about the validity and importance of it as an institution and instead ask the far more relevant question: Should we not do something about the wedding rituals? Isn't that where the groundwork is laid?

To start with, there is the dekko business in an arranged set-up. The girl has to be dolled up. She has to display or outline her skills. If it is broad-minded family, the twosome will go to a coffee shop and ask each other utterly stupid questions. If they are satisfied with the inanities and, more importantly, the two families have discovered that their ancestors were monkeys of similar pedigree, a deal is struck.

In so-called progressive families, no one talks money; money talks. So the boy's side starts getting gifts and, after a few desultory tuts-tuts, it is all grabbed. Their very standing in society depends on it.

On the wedding day, the groom's household completely overtake the goings-on. The girl is given some old jewellery to wear, which is politely referred to as an 'heirloom', though it is completely incongruous with her personality and her hairstyle.

Then, in one day, she is assaulted with a hundred relatives whose names and faces she will not remember. But, for the moment, they are her 'family', even if she finds most of them plain offensive.

Then comes the actual ritual. No one thinks it necessary for the couple to understand the full import of what is being said in Sanskrit or Arabic or whatever. A couple of middlemen of God put together what the bedroom, politics or chicken and ham can put asunder.

Isn't it time we gave marriage -- togetherness really - our intellectual and emotional commitment rather than mere ritual importance?

The first step is for the two people involved, however they find each other, to put their foot down. They must lay down the rules of what is to be their life. Their identity and dreams must be projected and not some historical baggage of tradition.

True, there are no guarantees in life, but there are a few things they must check out:

  1. Not whether their religions/castes have any commonalties, but whether their intentions for the common good are similar.
  2. Not the family status of either, but their own stands on ethical issues.
  3. Not how many grandchildren they can shower on the family, but whether they are sexually comfortable with each other.
  4. Not the manner in which the behaviour, habits and dress code follows a pattern, but how they can learn something new from each other.
  5. Marriage is a strictly personal affair so they should have an understanding that, when something goes wrong, it is their responsibility. There is no reason why the family and other unnecessary well-wishers should be brought into the scene when they will never ever know what the true picture is.

Lastly, a request to parents. Please retire gracefully. You have lived your life. Let the young adults find their own feet. If they can walk, they will come to you. If you tie them up, they will merely remain with you.

Illustration: Dominic Xavier

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Farzana Versey