The greatest concern Indian society can have for a woman, from the onset of her embryonic development, is her marriage.
The mere mention of the “m” word is like as an impending threat to enjoy your life before relatives bid you farewell to a new house, where they will eventually show up for chai and ladoos.
Below, I list out five reasons why I can’t wait to get married in customary North Indian style. Do not read this post if you are allergic to satire.
1) Adopt his Last Name
It is customary for married women to adopt their husbands last name, no matter how arousing it may be.
Fellow: Is that your wife, Cummings?
Mr Cummings: Well, only some nights…
Remember Pia in 3 Idiots?
Her primary concern with marrying the Aamir Khan character was becoming Mrs. Chanchad in the first half of the movie and Mrs. Wangdu, in the second half.
Forget other pressing concerns like if their future goals still intersect given that he deserted her for some 5 odd years.
Or the fact that she is a qualified doctor who can very well keep her own name and identity.
Even the acclaimed human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin made headlines when she changed her last name to Clooney on her barrister bio page. How cool would it have been if George Clooney became George Alamuddin to honor his more qualified wife (for a change)?
2) Suhaag Raat – The Marital Night of Boom-Boom
Ladies, fret no more about the status of your marital vagina — which we all know has to be pure and extra virgin like the labeling on your favorite cooking oil.
The tightening cream in the Virgin Restoration Kit will restore all your “well-used” body parts, such as your appendix and gall bladder. You will transform from refurbished bride to brand new dulhan in no time! In fact, don’t use any of your body parts, especially the brain. Just stay still forever.
p.s. The fake blood is complimentary with your purchase to attract Edward Cullen type spouses, I presume.
3) Adorn the holy chain of communion — Mangalsutra
As the temple priest utters his shlokhas and mantras during the Hindu wedding ceremony, the bridegroom ties a holy thread around the bride’s neck to cement the bond between the newly married couple. This thread is a special type of necklace called the mangalsutra.
In addition to holy thread, the man also applies a red tilak on the small parting of her hair. You may have noticed Hindu women wearing the mangalsutra and reapplying the tilak in social settings to indicate that she is married, symbolic of our Indian culture. The man does not have any such customary props.
Wouldn’t it just be easier if women were barcoded to their husband’s identity?
Just scan us and parcel us away! Drone us via Amazon if that is so convenient.
I suggest women should also employ some antiquated technique to let others know our man is taken, because apparently wedding rings are not enough.
Perhaps, we should demarcate our territory by keeping a jar of our sweat and spraying him each time he leaves the house. This can send some biological inferences like pheromones or stink that shooes other women away.
Kanyadan is a Hindu wedding ritual whereby the pandit ceremoniously requests the father to donate (dan) his daughter (kanya) to the new family. This is similar to the Christian wedding concept of the father walking his daughter down the aisle and placing her hand to her to-be-husband.
As with any custom, kanyadan has its own mythological significance. The daughter is regarded as a blessing of Lord Vishnu, preserver of Universe in the holy trinity with Shiva and Brahma (though all are manifestations of each other). By gifting her to the new family via wedlock, not only do the parents benefit by the grace of Vishnu but so do the bridegroom’s family.
As a new bride, she is praised as an avatar of Lakshmi, goddess of wealth and prosperity (with a hint of dowry).
So Indian ladies, here’s your breakdown.
Till the time you hit puberty, you will be revered as any permutation of goddesses celebrated during Navratri festivities and will witness odd aunties and uncles worshiping your feet to gain your holy blessings.
Once you start menstruating, your days as beloved goddess are over. Now you are just some ordinary, bleeding human who may or may not bloom in her sports bra.
Once you partake in saath-phere and become Mrs. (insert husband’s surname), you are reincarnated again which is incomplete without ghar pravesh — the gentle kicking of the decorated lota on the doorstep of your husband’s home.
Of course all these beliefs sound nice and comforting to everyone, except to the daughter herself. The woman can be at home and never actually feel at home. For the first 20 odd years of her life, she is periodically informed that she has to leave her home someday. For the next 20 years or so, she has to assimilate as a ‘pariah’ into a new one.
5) Participating in Karva Chauth
Karva Chauth is a North Indian custom of a wife fasting (without food and water) from sunrise to moonrise for the longevity of her husband. Twinkle Khanna, wife of (once hairy, now successful laser hair removal) actor Akshay Kumar, recently wrote about this tradition in her hilarious blog – “The United Nations research states that men with the longest life expectancy are from Japan, followed by Switzerland. I am rather surprised at this result as we have been doing the Karva Chauth fast to make sure our men have long lives since time immemorial and the results should have definitely shown by now. ”
While it does sound endearing to sacrifice your regular day of meals for a loved one, especially when both husband and wife fast together, it would prove to be far more beneficial for both parties to exercise and cook healthier foods for each other.
To be fair, milder forms of fasting do have their merits. My grandma fasts several days a month, eating only a diet of fresh fruits and water, thereby eliminating processed salt and sugar for the whole day. She is 75 and still going strong.
All of these criteria showcase why I am SO EXCITED (cough) to leave my life of single-dom and dance to the tunes of a cultural system that so kindly favors the Indian male – marriage.
Hinduism, as teachings of the Gita, started out as a highly spiritual religion that did not have any such patriarchal imprints as they do today. In fact, many don’t know that the practice of dowry emerged from Europeans during their periods of Indian colonization.
Modernization in the post-colonial era of India has led to the common sense evolution of some of our patriarchal Hindu mores. In fact, educated and working women don’t follow the backward rules as much, nor do modern men expect much of them from their wives, leading to more equality in the household. However, it is still interesting to see the subtle and not so subtle differences in the expectations of a married woman versus the man.
Perhaps you may have observed similar traditions in the context of your own cultures and I hope you share them too.
The least a woman can do is to express her views on them and not assimilate these norms as her one and only reality.