A Feminist Indian Wedding????
Posted by Kalpana
Weddings! Weddings! Weddings! They’re oozing out of my ears. Delhi’s roads are going to be impassable today because of the weddings. No, not because it’s a cute date 13.11.13 – but because it’s Tulsi Vivah – please read the link, it contains enough information on patriarchy to make your feminist blood boil over. The story behind Tulsi Vivah is enough reason to boycott the date altogether. What are we to do with a religion steeped in myths that are abominable. Testing a wife’s chastity indeed!!!
But to return to the topic of weddings. Indian weddings are an occasion for everyone to return to our roots, our wonderful traditions that involve turning the bride (however educated, intelligent and independent) into a puppet who has to be ‘given away’ in Kanyadaan – from the father to the husband, change her name, pretend to be demure, become obsessed with beauty rituals, with looking good in a conventional acceptable kind of way and spending a fortune on clothes and other adornments. Although Indian weddings take the barphi ( let’s step up the tradition here) they aren’t the only ones. Do read Tracy Clarke Flory Where did my feminist wedding go? She expresses surprise and dismay at her path. Although she set out deciding she would NOT wear a white dress but a coloured one, she is now going to be wearing a white dress and even found herself thinking seriously about false eyelashes. It doesn’t happen only in India then.
We are surrounded by reminders of women’s reason for being on this earth and by the looks of it, apparently it is to get married, have babies and look after our homes. Mainstream media bombards us with images, suggestions and presumptions that this is all that we aspire to.
How does an Indian girl manage to hold on to her sanity and have the wedding that she desires? A wedding that fits into her life? All the weddings that I see around me become the life of the bride, the groom and their parents from the moment the talk begins. Why should a wedding take up so much time, space and energy? Why can’t it be simple, intimate, tasteful instead of the over hyped, over expensive event that is a princess-for-a-day-that-turns-her-prince-into-a-frog day?
Bollywood loves big wedding scenes. They try to stick one in wherever possible, there’s the colour, the pageantry( ugh), the people, the songs that will be belted out at copycat weddings for the next three years – I understand Bollywood’s reasons. I don’t understand the reasoning of all those fathers and mothers who want a Bolly style wedding for their children. But there’s no accounting for tastes. Some people like a lot of chilli in their food and some don’t. Some like a lot of pink and yellow skirts flailing around to thumping music preferably the noxious Bhangra, while others feel that weddings are rather serious with a mood of quiet contemplation followed by joyful music loved by the bride and groom.
It’s ok to want what you want. What beats me is why weddings are invariably a one-size-fits-all affair. To qualify as an Indian wedding it must be loud, raucous, expensive, a waste of time and an opportunity to torture the bride and groom.
It’s an industry after all. The wedding industry with it’s marriage halls, caterers, designers, jewelers, honeymoon packages – I’m sure I’ve left something out – but there are far too many people making money off those wedding dreams. One has to put one’s foot down somewhere and stop being manipulated by market forces. They will flatter you and kowtow to you and make you feel rich and important by suggesting bigger and more showy events, clothes, holidays, venues, bridal sets. You have to decide if you get your fix from paying for all that, from being the centre of attention of a host of people who are rushing from one wedding to the next, changing their outfits in their cars and wishing they were in a bar instead. Perhaps one can be the centre of attention of one’s family and close friends, people who really care about one?
However huge your wedding rest assured that people will treat it in the same cavalier way they treat all weddings. Because every Indian wedding is a big deal. Every Indian wedding must have hundreds of invitees. However special you make it, it’s YOUR special day. For the people you invite it is simply another social engagement. Keep that in mind when you make your plans. Do things your way – ultimately you’re the only one it matters to.
About KalpanaTrying to change the world one blog post at a time. I write. It's the best thing I can do. I am the Hanged Man, the Fool, the sometime Magician. Whether I travel in my imagination or in real life I write about it and show you pictures either through my photography or through the pictures I paint with my words. I read books and write fiction. During working hours I teach English as an Additional Language. I edit.
Posted on November 13, 2013, in bride, Celebrate, Culture, Feminist, oppressive customs, strength and tagged assumptions, culture related bullshit, family, Feminism, manipulation, Marriage, patriarchy, tradition, weddings. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.