#MondayMusings – Of Marriages, Rituals and Customs
It all started with a phone call at home. I had just then attended a wedding and I was narrating it all to Mum and talking of the details. My Mum and I talk about a lot of things and when I get too preachy, she hands over the phone to Papa without a heads up. That’s her way of saying, “I am done with you”.
This time we started talking of the rituals and customs involved in a Hindu marriage.
To begin, let’s put the facts right on the table. I have been married for five years now and ours was a semi-traditional Hindu wedding. VT and I had a minimalist wedding. One dinner and limited guests. I was a participant in most of the things I have written below but I have more courage to challenge them now than I had five years ago. If I was getting married today, I would have signed papers in front of a magistrate. Or may be a temple visit to seal the occasion.
I believe that Indian Hindu weddings are a way to tax the bride and her family. Patriarchy shows up the strongest in our weddings than anywhere else. For the bride’s family, it’s a high pressure and stress zone. They are obliged to do things a certain way and it also means that the groom’s side should have not a minute of disappointment. There are many ceremonies throughout the wedding affair that seem unnecessary and show females through a lens that makes them more of an object than a human.
Saving gold for daughters is a normal practice. The moment a female child is born, parents and extended family start saving for her wedding. The gold and the cash reserves are all to get the daughter married and if required to be given to the groom’s family in the form of gift, call dowry.
During the wedding, there are a hundred items required for the ceremony and the procedure and most of the things are expected to be arranged by the bride’s family. In fact the mandap has to be inside the bride’s house and when the groom’s family leaves after the wedding, they are expected to shake it up and loosen the foundation. I wonder what that means!
The ceremony includes giving away of daughter – kanyadaan and I wonder why there is no putradaan? Why as a daughter, she needs to be given away to her future husband?
Why the groom applies sindoor and ties the mangalsutra? Why the bride does not tie a mangalsutra for the groom? In the truest sense, a mangalsutra is holy thread. Its meaning should be the same without a gender bias. Isn’t it?
In another wedding that I attended, the bride was made to touch the groom’s feet a part of the ceremony. Well, to me it was condescending. I believe marriage is among equals and none is seated on a higher pedestal. Why is the pati, a parmeshwar?
Why at end of the ceremony, there is a vidai for the bride? Why the man is privileged to take the woman off to his house and not the other way round?
Through out the ceremony, the feeling that bubbles up is that the woman is blessed to get married. The man who she is married to is her care giver, her savior and her God. Why instill this feeling and reinforce inequality? Why follow customs that challenge the way we think or the way we want to think?
During my conversation, Mum mentioned that in the olden days both sides shared responsibilities of the wedding and the rituals but she did agree that getting a son married is far easier than getting a daughter. The onus of a wedding well done falls on the bride’s family and it is they who are spoken of good or not good when all is done.
She did agree that till date girls are told that if they ever come back to their parents’ house after marriage, it should be their final journey. And that’s where our conversation digressed from narrating the wedding to peeling the layers and getting into the whys and why nots.
I don’t get preachy always. The conversations like these force me to.
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