Do you think Marriage is ‘just’ the consensual union of two persons?
Well…Not at least in my country! More than this, here, it’s a socially and ritually recognised coming together of two partners which in addition to love also establishes rights and obligations between them, and between them and their In-laws, and not to forget, the relatives!
It’s complicated as majority of us actually like these customs, and go miles to maintain a ‘preset’ social image. The couple remain too busy tending ‘important’ relations that it gives them quite some time off each other. Possibly these potent distractions have contributed to ‘one-life, one-life partner’ concept, prevalent here (you spend less time with each other which is by default the ‘quality’ time 🙂 ). Though, variations do occur but yeah, the expectations are heavier on the side of a ‘SHE’.
It’s rather hilarious that the moment a girl is chosen for the wedding, she is paralleled to Lakshmi (the Goddess of wealth). There’s no harm in that but after all, the girl is compared to a Goddess, and the Goddess is obviously expected to shower bounty of riches in every possible form. Undoubtedly, the Bride-cum-Goddess is lost in a catch-22 situation as it difficult to satisfy the never-ending greed of the pack, and she is soon to run out of the resources. Minus-resources, she longingly looks towards her saviours, ‘her parents’ who are often seen desperate to fill her emptying cache. Receiving such inexhaustible boon, the people live happily ever after…well…not exactly…such people are never happy; the feeling is temporary, soon to fade!
I too am married and have seen plenty of marriages (simple and extravagant; successful and unsuccessful; happy and unhappy) in my culture and a few subcultures as well. Exceptions do occur, mind you! Not everyone is equally ‘insatiable’. I am one fortunate soul but marriage in itself is no less than an adventure from the very beginning!
Lately I got interested in researching the basic philosophy behind this marriage thing (so expect some more such articles 🙂 ), and here is the crux (and I believe many of my own culture people don’t know it!). In our sacred scriptures eight types of marriages are described, out of which ‘Braham Vivah’ is considered the ideal form of marriage between a Boy and a Girl from equal stature families. In this, Boy’s family approaches the girl’s family; No Dowry is involved; and the girl is accepted in two sets of clothes and a few ornaments. (It’s hard to spot these days as no girl wants to have such limited options 😉 ).
Our Shashtra also acknowledges Love marriages as a marriage which does not involve the consent of any of the parents. Interestingly, a marriage would also take place when everyone was ready except for the girl’s parents. (Past people were bolder, I tell you. People today are so confused, they don’t know their own history and keep condemning love marriage for no good reason except for breaking some hearts 🙁 ).
None of the eight marriage types revealed anything in particular about the much hyped Dowry from bride’s side however when the Boy is either not of equal stature or is deficient in some nature, it is said that he used to pay the girl’s family (reverse of present day Dowry).
So basically this unnecessary burden of dowry is added later on by some clever minded folks. What else justifies this evil?
One of my colleague said that earlier both the families used to contribute positively in some form so that the newlywed couple could settle their home; it was a kind of help but slowly this became an obligation to be born only by the girl’s family.
Having a son is still considered a privilege by many. This is partly because our system still works on family ties, and the ageing parents still hope to be taken care by the son during the dusk of their life.
Okay fine, I have no problem with that. What I wonder ‘Is it some of fee that a girl’s parents pay in advance to buy a pass for their daughter to enter your home? And then she is also expected to take care of you more than her own parents!’
Surprisingly a girl manages to do it somehow but don’t you think it’s too mean for an expectation!
(*This post is author’s personal view on the matter and is not targeted at any special person. Day to day observations and ‘the willing’ but ‘confused’ ‘to-be-wed’ people inspired this write-up)