Sunday, July 29, 2012

The big fat Indian wedding of convenience

"Please keep quiet!!" My friend said to me, with a very constipated look
"You know, it is a very difficult thing for me to do, still I would want to know, About what?" I replied with a chuckle.
"That you have known Kavita before our marriage was fixed" He said, enhancing his already constipated look.
"Of course, I did not know her before your marriage was fixed. You both fixed your your marriage the day you proposed her" I said, laughing at my joking abilities
"Whatever, also, do not disclose my age to anyone, I am a month younger than Kavita"
"Dude, what the heck? You are marrying your love, and the whole world knows that, why you making me look like a guy from CIA, hiding all the information?" I said, clearly irritated by him
"Apparently, the whole world doesn't know its a love marriage, only our immediate family knows that its a love marriage, for the rest of them, its a marriage fixed by our parents" He said, relieved at his revelations.
"I am planning to lock myself in the room, because among the 500 people who have poured in for your wedding, I do not have a way to know your "Immediate family" I replied with a shrug.

Although, Chetan Bhagat, is a pulp fiction writer, and thrives on spice and not literature, he made a good point in one of his books, that in India, you marry a family, and not the person alone. And when, we have so many people involved, so many people to be convinced, so many egos to be massaged, love and compatibility take a back seat, while convenience becomes the order of the day. Now, convenience for one, can be an inconvenience to other. So eventually, the type marriage is decided by the winner of the bout between clash of conveniences. Let me come up with the possible results in this clash of conveniences.

1) Arrange marriage- For starters, Arrange marriage means, the convenience of parents have won the bout hands down. To explain this concept, it is quite similar to buying a house. When you have the resources(read, a job which pays you well), you show interest in buying a house(read: getting married). For this, you approach a broker(read :Parents). This broker shows you the pictures of various potential investment options. Out of these pictures, you choose one, with strong recommendations by the broker of course. Once you do that, its time for site visit. You visit the site, and if you think, that what was shown to you in photograph, is close enough to reality, you give your nod. This is when, the brokers from both side start their negotiations and arrive at a middle path. And in a few months, ceremoniously(quite literally) you own the house.

2) Love marriage- It stands for everything Arrange marriage doesn't. If you happen to go in for a love marriage, it means, that you have defeated the convenience of your parents hands down. This kind of marriage is not for people with weak hearts. For you need to be brave, to overcome the threats of disowning you from your parents, and you need to have a sustainable source of income, if they indeed disown you. During all this, you may also come across over-zealous neighbours and long distance relatives(the close ones are not talking to you, remember?). They will try to tell you that, Man, is a social animal and it cannot ignore the norms of society. For them, you marrying someone of your choice, will be nuisance to the whole society. You also will have to let go of your ambitions of a big fat wedding and along with that sometimes, the comfort of your parent's home.

3) Arrange Marriage with elements of love- This is the new entrant on the Indian wedding scene. The convenience of parents has won the bout, but to show some respect to the losing team, the pride is restored in some way. Taking off from the broker-marriage analogy, this kind of marriage is akin to saying, the broker showed you a house and you fell in love with and bought it, and not because it carried strong broker recommendation. This kind of marriage has become a source of redemption for many young guys and girls in latest century. They want to prove to the world, that they are independent and that their opinion does matter. But the fact is, they are not independent. So, their parents choose life partner for them, and, almost instantly, they fall in love with each other. They proclaim their love for each other, with the blessings(read: permission) of their parents at every possible place. They fill each other's timeline(for the ignorant, the Facebook wall is now called timeline) with romantic messages and pictures. They would go on dates, but their won't be any good night kisses while dropping the girl back, and neither would the girl invite the guy in, for a cup of something. They would go shopping, but purchase only the stuff their parents think would be required for wedding. And one fine day, they get married, proclaiming to the world and generations to come, that they had a love marriage.

4) Love marriage with elements of Parent's approval- This kind of marriage is an exact opposite of what marriage no. 3. The parents have lost the bout of conveniences badly, and the children, out of respect and love, let the parents call it an arrange marriage. Carrying forward the broker-Marriage analogy, its like the broker claiming that the owner purchased the house on his recommendation and he got his brokerage too, when the fact is that the broker wasn't involved at all. Like marriage no. 3, this too is the latest entrant on the Indian wedding scene. The kids make their decisions clear, and parents decide not to be sore losers(like in marriage no. 2 ) and play along. They strike a deal with their children, to let them have elements of arrange marriage in the wedding. The kids don't mind, as long as they get to marry each other and not get disowned by their parents. The parents, who a few years ago would have been staunchly against love marriage, now start proclaiming to the world, that they are happy with the choices their children made, that they always gave the liberty to their children to decide their life. And one fine day, the children get married, and the parents proclaim, to anyone who cares to listen, that the wedding happened with their approval.

There are many more scenarios and sub-scenarios on the Indian wedding scene, but why so many scenarios? Wasn't wedding meant to be, "Boy likes girl and girl likes boy and they lived happily ever after" affair? Why are there so many egos involved in the coming together of two people? Why, suddenly the opinions and reactions of the till-now-non-existent relatives suddenly start to matter?

Now, people may accuse me of plagiarising Amir Khan from Satyamev Jayate, but I, along with you and many others have held strong opinions on this subject for long. Falling in love, is still a quasi-blasphemous thing for majority of Indians. We have been those hypocrites who cheer for our Actors and actresses since almost a century, when they win their love in movies. But, in real life, we quash the very same thing, right beneath the foot of our ego. It is time, we realised, that wedding is between two people and two people alone. They will be leading a life of at least 30-40 years together. And most of the guests at their wedding, would not either live long enough to see them in good and bad times, or, would not care enough to see them in good and bad times. Wedding should be a bond of love between two people and not a deal of convenience between two parties.

Sooner or later everyone has to decide, So, What is your convenience?

PS- Come to think of it, I guess my friend(The one I had a conversation with at the start of this blog) falls in category three of the marriages.

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