I decided I will write a series of posts from now on about Indian weddings. According to me, its a waste of time and money. It tests your show-off skills, emotional quotient and it is the ultimate pressure handling test. Companies can use it as a tool to assess the candidates break down point.
They look grandiose, has a lot of merriment too but on the outlook. Do you know and/or believe the atrocities committed/undergone when a Hindu brahmin girl has to get married in India? I am not talking about the during-marriage phase yet, its the prior-marriage part of it. Let me list few of them for you. And of course we are talking about arranged marriages. I don't have to explain the concept since its got quite a reputation. Some favourable and some depiciting astonishment..
Of course, I am not saying all brahmin families are the same. As in case with anything, there are few exceptions but what is the fun in talking about them?? ;-) This tale could be of any ordinary or extraordinary brahmin girl. I cannot comment on other girls. But I guess its all the same. Lets talk about a happy little family which is not completely orthodox or has thrown all the traditions to the wind. A broad-minded loving family where the girl hasn't had too many restrictions.
The girl in question could be a graduate, a post-graduate or a doctoral degree holder. She can have the potential of being the next Sunita Narain, Naina Lal Kidwai, Indira Krishnamoorthy Nooyi or a Kalpana Chawla. But to the family that comprises of not just the parents, she is a mere mortal. An ordinary girl. Her dreams and goals could as well be treated like a mistake caused by her youthful zest and imagination! Once an ideal hindu brahmin girl makes a crime of turning 21 or 22 years old, all the aunties in the house start getting hormonically super active. Yeah, you read it right! The aunties of the house!
They all become mothers of the girl, crooning over her and start manipulating the actual mother's sensitive, scared brain and turn matchmakers at their own will without any prior consultation from the girl's parents. Oh yeah, forget the permission from the girl. Their estrogen production might have stopped ages back for good but the new estrogen rich kid in the block somehow activates the adrenaline in them and magnetically attracts them all like vultures towards meat! The uncles usually remain silent but on occasions they offer their advices nose-up in the air with a feeling that no man is born yet who can contradict them.
I remember a grand-uncle of mine telling "Good boys are like vegetables in the market. You go early in the morning, you get the freshest and the healthiest ones. You go by evening, you will have to settle for the rotten ones." Well, I so wanted to say "I'll go back the next morning". But I bit my lip. :-)
The poor parents in question, bound by the societal conventions now look into each others eyes. May be the only time after 25 years when they got married! But this time there is no pure, young romance in their eyes. Thy dread the near future. An overwhelming sense of danger is cast upon them. They fear getting into the "getting our daughter married" mode. But they treat it like a duty. A responsibility, which they were shouldered when they were born around half a century ago! They feel there is no escaping to it. If they fail to comply with the societial rules, they can be marked as bad parents. And they who have been the best of parents till then fear a black spot on their parenting record. They silently hold each others hands, once again may be after those 25 years when they first held it in their wedding, close their eyes and dive straight into the dark forces of horoscopes, matrimonial sites, Brahmana sanghas and of course the ever-helping relatives arms!
You can find a deep change in the way they talk to their girls. Fathers who treated their daughters more like sons, gave a high-five when they came back home in the evening, plotted together in pranks now start looking at their daughters more like- you-are-a-guest types. The mothers become unnaturally shrilly and start fussing about a simple acne that is sprouting on her daughter's face as though its a malign tumour that could kill her. Forget about sizes. If the girl does not look like a sleek designer flower vase, eternal doom is guaranteed! Lets talk about that later.
I will eat myself if a brahmin family does not look at horoscopes,the first thing, in times of crisis. Parents who generally do not believe in astrological influences start taking out the dusty old horoscopes of their daughters that was written when the girl was born. A natal record penned by a man, usually of whom the parents have atleast heard about, who people consider, to be bestowed with the knowledge of seeing the future. I do not know how, but this man can tell the exact year in which she will get married the day she is born. He can say which direction the groom will be found! I think the vicious process starts here. The quest begins with the aim of digging out the guy who had matching planetary effects when he was born. Wow, marriages here rely primarily on the day and time when the girl and boy was born!! Makes sense huh?!
Beat it, a man who is no way connected to the girl, sits in his private sanctimonious domicile feeling blessed about designing another human's life and people actually take his word on the girl's life. If he says the girl was born in the wrong time, she is chided after 21 years for not crowning out of her mother's cervix hours earlier or later! But if she did crown at the "right time" i.e something like during the fight of mars and saturn or during the mating of pluto and the moon for example then she can bring enormous fortune to the guy who holds her heart! I'd say who holds her dad's signed cheque book rather!
I am not saying this ancient study field is wrong or is senseless. I trust my country beyond any barriers. If some tradition/culture/a field of study was born in India, it definitely has a rational and intellectual dimension to it. If its been for so long, may be there is more to it.
Indian study of planetary movements dates back to the B.C's. Those noble men searched and found answers to several mysteries around human life. Those in the Vedic times(I don't claim to be an expert on Vedas, but having undergone few related lessons about religious history years ago, I can only think this as a probability.)wanted to know how man is related to the universe. They tried relating the microcosm and the macrocosm which research facilities all around the world are trying now! They predicted celestial phenomena which astronomers do today! Along with being brilliant astronomers, they were philosophers who tried to find the truths and tried to relate human activities to the celestial phenomena in the only purpose of finding a way to relate to the universe, beyond mundane. In that sense they became astrologers too. They couldn't be wrong in predicting the influences of planetary motions on natural disasters and human life. It is done even today but we know it with a different name! But what is happening today is men sheerly following a crude path to make a living. They follow a set of rules that has changed over the years to suit human needs. Today's astrology is something like an ABCD(American Born Confused Desi).
Is there someone who has actually studied the vedas completely and has full knowledge of the celestial occurrence? If so then he wouldn't be found on every other street of an Indian town. If so, he would be employed by the greatest research institutes in astronomy, meteorology and disaster management and the earthlings would never be less prepared for a disaster!
Now you are not expecting every Indian child's life to be predicted by someone like them, do you? Basing every important decision taken in a life on the word of someone who proclaims to know the heavenly bodies better than anyone else is outright foolish! What value does a person's will/desires hold then? If a certain star/planet/constellation was prominent a the time of birth, so be it. But how does it affect the later life? How does it determine a person's character?
Generally, in any hindu tradition for that matter, if the planet Jupiter is strong i.e in a certain position and the Mars is not creating any ruckus by being in the wrong position the girl is ready for marriage! Doesn't really matter if she is on verge of completing her thesis which could potentially cure cancer, she has to get married at that time or else she is doomed for loneliness, the rest of her life.
This is the point which brings parents to their knees. They would rather let the world die than conducting their daughters wedding after her thesis by which time Mr.Jupiter wickedly pulls out of his deployment! May be that is why there is still no cure to cancer! :P
Anyway the girl may well be ready to accept consequences. When so argued, the lectures begin. From every corner. At some point you will want companion blah blah... Agreed. Everyone needs a companion for life.. But who says if Jupiter decides to take a break form the same position, the girl cannot find a guy?! Of course if you are prioritize cast and creed, which is rather senseless, one would rather not bother after Jupiter decides to call it quits. And I wonder, how does Mr.Jupiter manage to act on all the billion hindus around the world? Why does it just stop being strong for a person? How can Jupiter be at the extreme of fitness for the person sitting next to you but be at the prime of infirmity for you?? Hundreds of girls are born at the same time. So all those hundreds should get married at the same time, with guys possessing matching planetary conjunctures at their birth time and in turn it implies that all of them will be found in the same place more or less. Right??
Oh we still haven't spoken about matching the zodiacs(rashis). How is it that constellations can be friends or enemies? And based on that humans getting married?! I am sure this was not what the Vedic people decided to pass on, atleast not in this way.
Ok will someone please explain that to me?!!
Ok, that topic can go on for days,. Didn't meant to write so much or get so serious! Pardon me. :)
The next step for parents would be to register their daughter in those money-minting small dingy offices calling themselves trusts and sanghas, in case they do not have "contacts" whose brother-in-law's, grandchild's maternal uncle's wife's sister-in-law's brother's son is available for marriage! Those old-fashioned staff in the offices set up rules that the house mates have to follow with no exceptions. A studio-picture where the camera man has a thousand lights on the girl who has no limits on her make-up and that photo which has been photoshoped with tens of editing steps clearly visible is the primary most requirement. The morons in there fail to realize that she is hardly gonna look like that daily! Mind you its not the groom's family asking for it yet!
Looking for the right guy. A brahmin guy. Parents who have never known internet, will become tech-savvy, register their daughters in all online websites, some named like 'asklaila' (doesn't it sound like a tabooed website or something? :P ) and start browsing the profiles of boys there!! I'm serious. It sounds rather gross, don't you think? The very concept of it makes me nauseous. Its the same case with guys I suppose too. The same parents who wouldn't allow their sons to check out a "girls website" and proudly tell everyone "Our son is such a good boy. He never looked at any girl also before, you know?" oblivious to their son's hidden talents, will encourage, flaunt and in fact use the technology to the fullest extent in browsing profiles and pictures of girls, commenting and having a good time of their lives! Hypocrits!!
I love bhel puri and dahi puri too! :P
There is more to it. Once they start finding interesting profiles, some coming from those dingy offices, comparison starts. Salary, Place of living, Status are the top priority. Mind you, at this stage, the horoscopes will mysteriously be matching and of course the relatives and parents-turned spies would have found the link in their contacts and would have extracted all the details of the boy! You see, in certain sects of brahmins, it is known that everybody within the sect is related one way or the other. Its like the pure-blood concept from Harry Potter series. Find the missing link, you find the true CV of the guy!
The entry of girl and guys still awaits. May be you first need to digest this post. I shall soon get back to you.;)