#MondayMusings – Of Marriages, Rituals and Customs

46 Responses

  1. Saadia says:

    Very thought provoking post and also very controversial in some ways because many communities want to cling to traditions that are responsible for violence against women and helpful in keeping women under male domination. In Pakistan, there is a lot of dowry related violence in diverse communities and I have interviewed many women victims who told how bringing little dowry or the one which didn’t adhere to groom’s dowry demand list (check out the obscenity, some is giving you his or her living breathing daughter and you ask for material things? as if women’s life is not worth 2 cents and won’t start on the gold nonsense). I share with you a link of some people whom work directly on dowry violence, who knows you might find it worthwhile read. At http://tribune.com.pk/story/796632/16-days-of-activism-campaigners-blame-tv-for-promoting-dowry/

    • Parul Thakur says:

      Thanks for sharing and that is sad to read.
      Patriarchy is the reason for all that happens to women and sometimes I feel Asian countries see that more and regarding controversy on these topics, mostly people preach and not follow. Sad situation.

  2. Aseem says:

    You have brought forth some interesting points there. From my perspective, I always believe that these extravagant weddings are such a waste of money. Additionally, even if you organize one party it makes sense for both the husband and wife’s family to share the expenses and that’s all.

    Interesting nowadays, just to avoid terms like ‘dowry’, I hear about parents giving their daughters a lot of stuff to start the family. Sometimes I wonder whether it should be considered as love for their daughter or a dowry in another form.

  3. Suzy says:

    Parul you raise some very interesting questions. However the rituals and customs were probably appropriate for the era in which they were set, I still think they are beautiful but each to their own.
    Suzy recently posted…Silent Conversations – #MondayMusings #WordyWednesdayMy Profile

  4. You’ve made your point so eloquently, as usual, Parul. At 41, I had the option to have a wedding just the way I wanted it, but even so I think our decision to keep it small, simple and elegant, I had to fight many ‘must-haves’ that came from my parents. Thankfully, Jose and I were totally in sync about what we wanted. Not every one has the option and it’s something we must discuss and fight against.

  5. Bikram says:

    YEs definitely a huge burden on the girls side .. I know because when we got my sister married , it indeed was a big headache .. do this and that .. and some of the things we do are to me completely useless, Why do we need to make so much food and waste it ..

    I wish such ludicrous issues like dowry and all are gotten rid of .. I know because I could see how stressed my dad was during that time..

    I think what would be ideal is .. the bride and groom with their parents go to a religious place or even a court get the marriage ceremony done and then the Two family have a joint party.. or if not joint maybe ONE each.. will save so much ..


  6. As the mother of four sons, I have always listed not having the headache of a wedding as one of the blessings of having sons. I’m with you…I’d have eloped if my husband would have agreed to it.

  7. Vinitha says:

    I have lots to share in this matter, I might as well write a post. 🙂 I think that it is absurd that we stick to the rituals giving no attention to the circumstances at hand. Kerala weddings are easy ones which does not last for more than 15 minutes. But the bride is wrapped in jewels so much that she can’t even stand up properly. I despise that. And this is not because the bride wants or the family has surplus of gold in hand. It is just because that’s how it should be, that’s how everyone else is doing, and it is because what will others think if we don’t do it. We didn’t have money. For my wedding all we had was the savings I made after working for 2 years and my sister made in 1 year. It broke my heart to spend that little money on jewels I didn’t want and on flowers which will be thrown away and what not! I am still not happy about it. But people, including my mom, his mom, they all wanted to spent our hard earned money on these little show offs. I would have been okay if I wanted to do that. Most of the rituals also form this way – because it was done once by someone and few others decided to follow that. I wanted to elope just so I cold save the money and stay away from the formalities. But my husband didn’t agree. 🙁
    Vinitha recently posted…Enriching a writer’s soul! #MicroblogMondays #MondayMusingsMy Profile

  8. Nibha says:

    I found myself nodding my head for most of the time, but I don’t think this society would be too happy to part with its old ways.. *Sigh*
    Nibha recently posted…The Vacation Hangover #MondayMusingsMy Profile

  9. Beloo Mehra says:

    Much has been said in different comments. Having an experience of 26+ years as a married woman, and through my own study of Indian/Hindu traditions as well as my exposure to the very futuristic vision of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, I have developed a certain view on marriage and the place/value/role of rituals and customs. I am not sure this is the right forum for me to share too much of my views on what, why, how of marriage (and its future in the evolution of societal life). But I will just share an article written by one of my friends, because this article does provide an important viewpoint to consider about Hindu marriage ceremonies. Hope you will get a chance to read it sometime – http://swarajyamag.com/culture/are-hindu-marriage-vows-misogynistic/
    Beloo Mehra recently posted…Chintan: India and Me: Part 5b: AnalysisMy Profile

  10. I agree with every point you have made here. My mind questions the traditional rituals too. A court marriage followed by a quiet dinner can save so much for the cost and the energy. I have seen people complaining and questioning on the same grounds while marrying off their daughters but they conveniently change character when time comes to marry of their sons. Their arguement is “aji hum to ladke wale hain.” Hypocrites.
    Anamika Agnihotri recently posted…Fascination for Ravana and the big question #Monday MusingsMy Profile

  11. And everyone thought taking the words “I will obey” out of my ceremony a travesty. Wow, interesting traditions. I hope changes are made make the ceremony equal but still as beautiful as tradition can be! Well thought out musing. Thank you for sharing!

  12. My husband would jump right in arguing on your side. Granted, we are American so our traditions hold pretty well to being evenly split (cost and obligation wise), but we’ve also seen our culture degrade the importance of marriage. (Believe me, that’s a sore spot.) It seems no matter the culture or country, there are parts of society that just don’t mesh with how things should be.

  13. Geets says:

    O yes..!! As much as marriages are fun to attend, they cost a huge amount! I mean quite a hefty amount for just a little fund.. there are so many things that just above my head and there are no answers with anyone.. Why, how,when, etc etc.. Court marriages followed by a grand party, that sounds like perfect celebration to me! I get what you’re saying and understand every single thing as how it works in marriages!


  14. Vidya Sury says:

    As much as we wanted to simply do the registrar’s office thing, our families were too big to let it go. We compromised with an Arya Samaj wedding as both of us were against the traditional Tamil Iyer wedding. Ugh. Even so, it was so taxing financially as well as otherwise. 🙂 Elaborate rituals must be banned. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your story, Parul. So many customs are followed simply because it has been a family practice. Nobody questions them. Also, one’s afraid of what impression others might have. It is only when we stop worrying about this that we can follow our own hearts.
    Vidya Sury recently posted…PS I love YouMy Profile

  15. Thanks for sharing your views on these traditional rituals. I wonder how many others question them….

  16. vineeta srivastava says:

    I agree with Bellybyted.Tthanks . Atleast you understood me . Parul always remember your generation is still not so experienced as your elders .You know in your marriage there was no dowry system followed, no gifts were taken , no pressure on either side of the family .Rregarding rituals kanyadan, phere, to shake the mandap, vidai ( in which handful of rice is thrown back thrice while leaving the house) , are very meaningful and beautiful ceremonies .They are meant to enjoy the marriage with relatives . If we look into this era hardly people enjoy festivals and traditions as earlier used to do . well its good many useless things are changed and should be but please don’t put the barriors for the moments of enjoyments .
    regarding wearing mangalsutra , sindoor , bichiya if women not wear who will wear ? men ? just imagine how will they look if they put on these things ? you are not compelled to wear . Already girls have left to wear . No problem . Don’t wear . Be cool and enjoy it .

  17. rajlakshmi says:

    Ohh the rituals have always raised questions in my household too, specially the washing and touching feet part. In my wedding there wasn’t much as it was a buddhist wedding… but I did have to touch my husband’s feet. He could hardly control his laughter because that was so unlikely of me. Of course that was the last time I ever did that 🙂 Some of the rituals are beautiful… like lighting 101 diyas in assamese wedding … but the twisted ones like dowry makes a wonderful thing like marriage so shameful.
    rajlakshmi recently posted…Of Mom & Distressed Jeans !!My Profile

  18. Esha says:

    I totally agree with what you say about the inequality of women and how the customs inadvertently make the bride’s family subservient to that of the groom! I opposed the system tooth and nail when I got married and broke a few traditions that family didn’t take to very happily! In today’s context, brides need to decide and take the call as to how they would like to be married. Sadly, even if the girls are financially independent, not many decide to change things and end up following the customs as they used to be in ancient times, when men were the wage earners and women stayed to look after the family. Even now, in many communities the rituals reek of patriarchy with just a handful of young people who wish to change. I can say for sure that Bollywood has a big role to play in commercialising the concept of lavish weddings which then adds to the pressure on a bride’s family manifold in addition to the existing demands made on them. The only way out that ensures a win-win situation is a court marriage which is what I feel treats both parties equally!

  19. Priyanka says:

    Couldn’t agree more Parul!! Our wedding included a custom of my mother washing feet not only of the bridegroom but also his entire family including little children. I felt this was the most humiliating ritual ever. I was behind the curtains getting ready…else I would have stopped this ritual myself. I feel sorry now. It takes a great courage to fight against these meaningless customs that our religion holds…am doing that now… So when my daughter asks me these questions I will have an answer… Its a long journey.

    • Parul Thakur says:

      Oh I have never heard of that and I feel sorry. I am sure if there was a chance, you would have pitched in to stop the custom. You are right – it takes a lot of courage for us to do something that’s so against what people in the society believe in and live by. Thank you Priyanka. Happy to have heard from you after a long time.

      • Priyanka says:

        I have another question Parul! Why is it that the girl is expected to move in with the groom’s family? Why is it not the other way around? Or why can’t both the bride as well as the groom can create an above of their own, even if they will be living in the same city as their parents? this is my current struggle…

  20. Madhavi says:

    Nice Post Parul.
    Though I agree to the point that the bride’s side is more burdened during marriages while the groom’s enjoy the reception, it i s also a fact that there is an intrinsic meaning to all the rituals, customs that have been coming over for years, unfortunately we are living in the time period where the meaning of the rituals is highly convoluted and one-sided. May be, it’s time that both the sides realize the friction and make it a balanced event.
    Madhavi recently posted…Done and DustedMy Profile

  21. Really interesting post, I know very little about your traditions so I was quite amazed by them. It sounds like so much pressure on the brides family and as a mother of 2 girls I am glad we won’t face that pressure. I am a Christian and there is still a lot of tradition in our culture too. My father gave me away also. But we were lucky as both sides of our family put in money for the wedding. I guess I just hope that whatever cultural background we have that all women and men can make a choice of what ceremony they want. #mondaymusings

    • Parul Thakur says:

      Yes – let the couple make the choice. And I still don’t understand why we have the giving away part?

      • Val says:

        I am in the UK and the majority of my family came from Eastern Europe, and one set of my grandparents plus nearly all my ancestors before them, had arranged marriages. The ‘giving away’ is part of all wedding ceremonies that I know about, not just for Hindu families. It is symbolic of giving the responsibility of the girl’s welfare and care to the husband whereas before that her welfare and care was the responsibility of her parents. Alas, in cultures and societies in which there is partiarchy that ‘welfare’ and ‘care’ doesn’t translate to their proper meaning. In my opinion love and respect are what should make a marriage, not adhering to traditions. You and other women in your country (and many, many others) have a long struggle ahead of you for equality and I wish you the very best of luck. I can’t imagine how long it is likely to take, but it has to start with women.

  22. Rachna says:

    I totally agree with what Tulika said. The rituals have evolved from earlier times, times when men earned and women looked after the home. A woman’s wellbeing depended upon her husband. Thus these customs. They will take time to evolve and they are changing. I did love the beautiful rituals in my own marriage. A middle path is certainly desirable.

  23. Obsessivemom says:

    We need to understand where those practices came from Parul. It cannot be denied that we WERE a patriachal society, that women WERE dependent on the men and that if the husband passed away her life turned into one of pathetic dependence. Things are however changing. At least in the urban setup they have already. Also, it is we who have to bring in this change. That said, some of the traditions are also beautiful and a lot of fun if taken in the right spirit by both sides. A middle path perhaps, would make it a stress-free affair rather than giving up all of them.

    • Parul Thakur says:

      Tulika – I get your point but staying in urban cities, we are shielded from reality. The reality is not fun or beautiful. I know a 20 something girl who fought with her dad cos her would be wanted a sedan and not a hatch back for wedding. I know another family where the guy’s side thought that the girl’s side lives in such a small city, how will they host the baraatis? So the girl’s father actually went to a rich family and used their place so that the guy’s side be enough impressed. And these are modern girls and guys. Our generation. My question is will a middle path be middle ever?

  24. Aditi says:

    I have often thought about Hindu marriages and the way certain rituals stink of patriarchy. Kanyadaan being the the most despised. But it is up to us to make the change. We can’t turn a blin eye and follow traditions just because that’s the way it has been happening. Mine was a love marriage but unfortunately M’s family was quite conservative and traditional…well they had expectations. But a firm but polite no from my parents was all it took…no gold, no silver, no coin. I very proudly narrate this story to anyone who listens – my grandparents got married with the exchange of one rupee coin – shagun, a token that was all my grandfather took for my grandmother’s hand. And that’s the way it should be.

    As women get educated and start making their own rules I believe such patriarchal traditions will slowly break.

  25. anks says:

    Pretty strong eh… Do you know the origin of dowry? I researched for an article and realised that the parents divided their wealth in mobile and immobile assets. The immobile ones like land, animals etc was for the sons and the mobile like gold, jewels etc was for the daughter. This was given to her at the wedding so that she enters the in laws house hold with her own money and not be entirely dependent on them. Practical for times when women did not earn. Highly twisted and convoluted today….

  26. nabanita says:

    You know this post reminded me of the custome of kanyadaan..I hate that…I mean why should a parent have to do that..My father and I didn’t do that as we were told, we didn’t even break the straw we were supposed to…I didn’t want to have to be given to anyone, I’m my father’s and nothing, no ritual can change that..So, if you ask me I hate and completely abhor a lot of customs and ya that’s there 🙂
    nabanita recently posted…Being Burnt Wasn’t A Bad Thing Afterall #10YearAnniversaryMy Profile

  27. Bellybyted says:

    I completely agree with what you say but let me tell you that when you are the mother of the bride you will want to have a wedding that is more ceremonial than just a drab signing of a Register. A wedding is a ceremony while the marriage is a rite of passage. While I agree that our society is patriarchal, in most cases women really rule the homes. Equality also brings with it responsibility and believe me once you become a mother you will realise how difficult it is to be pulling your weight and bringing home the bacon. At times like this you will appreciate the old fashioned custom of staying at home to look after the family because that is a never ending job, with no salary, holidays or bonus.
    Regarding the gifts, believe me they come handy. Gold is eventually the best “saving” you can have and when a bride gets things from her parents it is only to help the couple get started in life. The advice to return only as a corpse serves to make a bride realise that she has to adjust.
    Indian marriages have a lot of inequities and gender discrimination: and I agree that many customs and rituals are mandatory for the woman. BTW I have two married daughters who are professionally qualified and working so I am speaking as an ardent supporter of working women and moreover women who are independent thinkers and capable of living a life without a man. But let me tell you it is rough and tough – as you get older you will appreciate how social customs came about and be less “preachy ” as your mother says.
    I presume you are as old as my own daughters if not younger and understand where you come from .
    It is only when we question social mores that society can change and there are always things that need to change particularly vulgar and wasteful consumption and display of wealth .
    But I loved your post especially the photograph.

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