Monday, January 14, 2008

The Great Indian Matrimony Tango: So what else is new?

I didn't have an arranged marriage. Neither did my parents. So we were all thankfully spared the whole humiliating "see-the-girl-in- a-saree-balancing-12-cups- on-a-tray- and-not-spilling -a-drop-of-tea" ritual. But I was quite surprised this morning when the single women in my office were discussing their experiences regarding wedding proposals.

One colleague - now married - said she'd been 'rejected' by a suitor (read: his family) because she planned to continue working after she got married. This woman has an MBA degree and excellent work experience, but was expected to happily give it all up 'in the interests of the family.' ("Welcome to La Familia..." where have I heard that before?)

Another woman, an engineer with an MBA in finance, said 'brokers' who call up always ask the question: does she plan to continue working after getting married? "Yes," her father says proudly. "And she plans to continue dancing as well," he adds for good measure. The lady in question is an extremely talented classical dancer and it would be a sad day indeed if she gave up the craft, especially if the move was involuntary.

She's lucky, it would seem. Many Indian parents, after their daughters cross 25 (in some 'liberal' cases, 27) give in to various demands from a prospective groom's family, lest they be accused of "not fulfilling their parental responsibilities" or get the neighborhood gossipping about why their daughter isn't married yet: "She probably has a flawed horoscope," they will say. (This means wrong stars in the wrong houses, which means she was born at the wrong time or under an inauspicious star or planet or something, and hence, is doomed to be pitied. Tsk, tsk.)

Here's a sample interaction - and this is in 2007! She works a for an MNC in a job that involves shifts - her's gets over at 9 pm. So did the prospective bridegroom's, albeit at a different company. This is what the prospective mother-in-law had to say: "See, we are very liberal people. We don't mind her working after the wedding," (Ooo....did you hear that, girl? They're liberal. You must have been born under an auspicious star, indeed.) "But, can't she ask for another shift? I'm getting old. If she continues with this job, she and my son will get home at the same time, and a man likes a hot meal waiting for him when he gets home so late." (Er, yes, any human being would like a hot meal waiting for them when they get home after a day's work and a long commute, but hey, who said life was fair? And if you hadn't pampered your offspring to his teeth, he wouldn't have expected his life partner so spend half her life in the kitchen slaving away for him while he put up his smelly feet and hogged the remote.)

Here's what happened to another prospective bride, a computer science graduate working in the marketing department of a tech firm. Her job involves overseas travel every few months for a week or so. The prospective groom tut-tutted and generously offered to get her a job in the MNC where she worked citing a "regular 9-to-6 routine" and no travel. "I like travelling occasionally, thank you." replied the girl, leaving the fellow slack-jawed, probably at the thought that she could "bear" to spend time away from her lord and master. (Nah, I think it's because his job didn't involve periodic trips to exotic destinations in Europe.) Like Gen Y says, whatever!

Grow up, boys! (And their mommies, in particular.) If India is going to continue following the West, then we need to be prepared to give up on our daily maids and Rs 5000-a-month drivers. As an economy matures, service is going to get expensive and then, the average middle-class indviduals will not be able to afford the housekeeping services that are still so cheap today. With higher education getting steeper by the day and subsidies on their way out, two-income families are more than likely to become more common.

So our boys (and yes, I have a son) better learn to chop their veggies, roll their rotis, dust the furniture, clean the toilets - and do it with a smile - because services provided by maids, drivers, gardeners, and errand boys are going to become the preserve of the rich.

Oh yes, and this also applies to all the pampered girls who proudly say: "I can't even boil an egg." (And not just because they're vegetarian.) Or "I've never threaded a needle in my life!" The bottom line is, being comfortable with basic household skills just makes a life lot easier. And with all the other problems out there, we all deserve to spend our time on better things than fighting over household chores.

Like it or not, this social evolution is inevitable. Are you listening, mommies?



Explosive Bombchelle said...

Even without arranged marriages or an economy that makes housekeepers, drivers and gardeners a luxury of the rich the gender issue you describe is one that is also prevalent in the US. Far too many parents pamper their children leaving them without the basic life skills necessary to function effectively in our world. Although the issue of children growing into adults who are ill-equipped to handle even the most mundane daily tasks is more common with boys, the entitlement generation is certainly showing that girls can make it into adulthood unprepared. What a disservice it is to raise children without the ability or desire to be completely independent. American speaker Denis Waitley is quotes as saying "The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence." I think this philosophy is one that so many parents should take note of.

Excellent post!

A Lost Writer said...

I've never been to the West, but it was interesting to note that in many ways our societies are similar, tackling similar challenges. The Denis Waitley quote is amazing! I'm going to put it on my blog! Thanks for your input. Here's to many more interactions.

Expressjodi said...

Great expectations

Life is full of surprises, particularly if you are a newly - wed . Expressjodi you a glimpse into the future and tells how to be prepared to face married life

Love is all about romance whereas marriage is a lot about responsibility. When two different individuals from different backgrounds live together, differences of opinion on things like spending habits, career, having and raising a baby, sharing household responsibilities etc, are bound to crop up, the key is to broaden your outlook and accept all the changes that marriage brings, and to remember that marriage is a momentous change for you and your spouse. And, fear not, over a period of time, you will find a way to make it work.


With marriage comes a whole lot of responsibility. "From the time you ger married, the decisions you make will not be yours alone, but your partner's as well. This is because your choices will impact both of you. But this doesn't mean that you're tied to a ball and chain. "It only means you have a companion with you for life. In fact, in your capacity as a spouse, you become your partner's caretaker, friend, confidante and even punching bag etc.


Arguments over money are bound to happen, so be prepared for it. And unless you establish some ground rules for dealing with financial issues, you will continue to have these arguments. Bear in mind that you are now a part of a unit, and no longer flying solo.

In - laws or outlaws?

if you thought that marriage is all about sharing your life with your significant other, think again, and this time, factor in your in - laws into the equation. When you're used to a particular lifestyle, moving in with your in - laws can be a rude shock. You will be required to make changes in your daily routine. Like waking up a little earlier to help around the house or rescheduling your plans on weekends or even modifying some of your eating habits. these might seem like an additional burden, particularly if you are a working woman. Remember to keep an open mind when it comes to handling your in - laws. They may be rigid in their ways, but there is always a way to work out a compromise.

Sharing space

Marriage involves sharing everything - whether it is sadness or glad tidings, chores or finance, which can be a difficult task. This is why marriage necessitates an equal contribution from both side. " Sharing is absolutely essential for a happy marriage,. Besides making it easier to run the show, it also brings you closer to your partner, and cement a bond in a way that only experience can.
Differnces of opinion

Shaadi brings two different individuals together, as well as two sets of arguments for everything. Remember that your husband is as new to the marriage and the relationship as you, and he is facing the same issue for the first time as well.Irrespective of the nature of the relationship, any two people are bound to have differences of opinion at some point of time, It is how you handle these differences that mtters. The best antidote for deviant interest lies in adapting to the situation. "Be carteful not to retaliate for the sake of it,"

Planning for the future

As a single independent working woman, you may be used to your lifestyle, going on holidays or splurging on the latest pair of Jimmy Choos. But married life is a journey and you need to plan carefully to get to your destination. "Planning is the key. Make sure you and your husband are on the same page as far as long - term goal are concerned," "Whether or not you plan to have a baby or deciding on investments for the future and are thing that you should discuss in advbance, if you want to avoid unpleasant surprises in you married life,"

Expressjodi said...

Brahmin Shaadi
Historically, the Brahmins in india were divided into two major groups based on geographical origin of the people. The Brahmin groups that lived to the north of the vindhyas were referred to as Dravida Brahmins. Each group was further divided into five sections according to the regions of their settlement.

The Sagaai or the engagement ceremony symbolises commitment However, the South Indian Brahmin do not lay stress on the presence of bride and the groom in their Sagaai, rather it focuses on commitment between the parents of the groom and the bride. 'Latto' i.e., 'engagement plate' Which consist of coconut, flowers, turmeric, betel leaves and betel nuts hold more importance, in their engagement ceremony. The Maithil Brahmin bride of bihar makes her wedding affair stand apart by receiving the blessing from the Dhobi's (washerman's) wife - a compulsory tradition in the Bihari Brahmin wedding.

In Haldi ceremony turmeric powder is mixed with milk, almond oil and sandalwood and applied to the bride and the groom. In Kashmiri Pandit this ceremony has a twist becuase cold, white yoghurt is poured on the bride as an alternative to haldi. ritual is followed by a special custom called Shankha (shell) Paula (coral) in bengali Brahmins, where seven married women embellish the bride's hand with red and white bangles, the shell is supposed to calm the bride and the coral is believed to
be beneficial for health. Mehndi is also applied on every bride's hands during the Mehndi ceremony. However, a Bengali Brahmin bride applies alta (red dye).

After the ceremonious arrival of the groom, the garlands are exchanged between the groom and the bride, while the priests chant mantras. Jaimala is the symbol of unifying two souls into one. But in tamil nadu, "Oonjal", a unique jaimala ceremony is performed and could be best decribed as a tug of war. In this ceremony, the women sing songs to encourage the bride and groom to exchange the garlands while the uncles persuade the soon to be couple not to Exchange the garlands.Before the ceremony of jaimala, the bride makes a majestic entry in Bengali weddings.

Mangal Phere
Fire is considered the most pious element in the Brahmin weddings and seven circles around that fire holds the seven promises that the nuptial couple make to each other amidst the Vedic mantras. The Brahmin wedding is deemed incomplete without the seven rounds around the sacred fire. Unlike other Brahmin weddings, in Gujarati weddings only four pheras are taken which are called the mangalpheras where the pheras represent four basic human goals of Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Miksha (religious, moral, prosperity and salvation). Likewise in Malayalee Brahmin weddings, pheras are taken only thrice.

Post wedding ceremony vidaai
After pheras, the bride's family and friend bid her teary vidaai (farewell). The Kashmiri pundits make their vidaai even more special. their charming ritual, "roth khabar" is performed on a saturday or tuesday after the wedding. In Roth
khabar, the bride's parents send a roth (bread decorated with nuts) to their son - in - law's family. But the bride accompanies She stay with her parents and returns only when someone from in laws comes to fetch her back.

Griha pravesh
The new bride is greeted by her mother - in - law with Arti and tilak. The bride, who is regarded as the Goddess laxmi, enters the groom's house after the groom's house after kicking rice - filled pot. In Kannada Brahmin marriages, the groom changes the name of his wife in the name change ceremony where he decides a name for his wife and inscribes it on a plate containing rice with a ring. In Bihar, a very strange ritual is performs at the groom's place.