A big fat Indian wedding…

Posted: July 2, 2013 by Ankur in Writes...
Tags: , ,

India.. When u ask a foreigner friend of yours that when he/she hears this word, what’s the first thing which strikes his/her mind? You might think he/she would say Bollywood, Indian dishes and spices, Indian Festivals or if not these then Kama Sutra, but surprisingly, while having a conversation with a friend of mine, i was startled when she ignored all of these and answered, Indian weddings! After that conversation, i kind of got curious and looked for the divorce rate in India. I was surprised to find that India has the lowest divorce rate in the world! Now most of you would say, Yeah.. It’s because of our culture and traditions and Vedas and we raise our children in such a way etc etc.. Well all these might be most of the reasons but these aren’t all of them. We are missing a big reason which from decades has saved the Indian marriages and you like it or not, it’s none other than the dowry system. In next few lines, I would try to summarize what happen s in most of the North Indian weddings. 

So it starts off with the relatives of the soon to be bride say A, saying, Awww… now A has come of age, it’s the right time for her to marry. The clever relatives know that now A’s parents are going to ask if the relatives know of some decent guy for their beautiful daughter, so they’ll come prepared with a list. In few modern families, the parents would also ask if the girl already has got a boy friend and if she’s willing to marry him and few would look on matrimonial websites as well. After short listing few candidates, just like hiring process of a company, Interviews would be conducted. Both the parties would try to enquire about each other just like the policemen do when they come for background check of the person who has applied for a passport! After making sure that the other party is of the same caste, same or more stature in society, then they’ll (only valid for upper middle class and high class families), ask for the confirmation of the soon to be bride, A and groom, B. Now comes the dowry part, If B is an engineer/doctor, then the bid will start from about 10 lakhs. If he graduated from a good college, then 15 L it is. If his package lies between 5 and 10 LPA then the amount of dowry rises by another 10-15 lakhs. The amount keeps on rising keeping the academic qualification and groom’s income in mind and finally after negotiations, an amount is fixed say 40 lakhs n a sedan and 40 lakhs 1, 40 lakhs 2, 40 lakhs 3, done! With this, the lifetime rent for the bride who can now occupy her new home after the wedding, has been settled now.

Now the day of wedding arrives preceded by lots of other pre marriage functions but let’s not deviate from the topic.. A big banquet hall, lit up by spectacular lights! Big dining hall having at least 15 different types of dishes, 5 different types of breads, 20 different types of desserts and tens of other food items, helping the count of food items to cross a century! The bride’s party would be busy in making sure the groom’s party and the guests taste each n every item and few hungry kids would be lurking at the banquet hall’s wall, hoping that at least one dish is left and then thrown in the garbage so that at least today they don’t have to go to bed, i.e. the footpath, with empty stomachs.. On the other hand the guests, who when prepare maggi at their homes, lick the entire plate, will today just take a bite of every item n throw the rest because it’s their right as they have paid the ‘Shagun’ (It’s a custom in India to give m oney as a gift if you are invited for a marriage). On the dance floor, you’ll find drunk uncles of the groom and the bride who think they are dancing like Prabhu deva but are actually dancing more like Dharmendra! The guests after eating 10% food in their plates and throwing the rest 90% in the dustbin would now sit and stare at the soon to be married couple and gossip about who’s better looking, out of the two and would keep on estimating the amount of the dowry. The groom would be wearing a Sherwani of more than 50 grand and shoes of another 10 grand, that too just for the first and the last time! After the marriage, it’ll be hung like a sword is hung in a museum which would be seen every now n then but would never be used again. The bride’s clothes and jewellery would be worth at least 10 times that of the groom both in value as well as in weight.

After the dinner, when the remaining food has been dumped in the dustbins, it’s time now for the traditional Indian wedding ceremony. A priest would initiate the havan, also called as Yagya (Yajna), in simple words the priest would light up a fire in a container and ask the groom to put that much amount of ghee in the fire, which is 10 times the amount an average poor family can get in an entire month! Then the priest would chant and would keep on decorating the container with rice, wheat, sweets n what not. If you are thinking that all this food would later be eaten by someone then well.. that’s not going to happen at any cost because according to the priest, God wants him to waste the food in this way so that the couple always stays healthy n wealthy, certainly a logic, which I’ll never understand.. Now after completion of every sentence priest would utter Swaahaa which means it’s time to put Samagri (a mixture of wood shavings, ghee, leaves and few othe r things) in the burning container and most importantly it’s time now to take out a 100 rupee bill, at every Swaaha, and hand this hard earned money to the priest. After few minutes, no one would understand a word what the priest says but like a trained animal, they’ll keep on putting ghee n samagri in the fire n money in priest’s pocket. Now after the vows have been taken, the bride’s party would complete their part of the deal i.e. gift the Sedan to the groom and the remaining items of dowry as well. Someone would go to drop the priest to his temple as his pocket is overflowing with money and he’s feeling a bit uncomfortable in carrying it. The groom’s party, will leave with the bride, hence marking the successful completion of the deal. 

Now except the dowry, wastage of the food and money given to the priest, marriages are similar in the rest of the world too. But still after this, so many divorces occur in the rest of the world but not that much in India. Why? The answer is.. Dowry! Now after going to the groom’s home if the girl finds out about the cruel nature of her in laws, she has no other option other than to fulfil each n every wish of her husband and her in laws because if she bails out from the deal now, the investment which her parents made, would give zero returns!! So few fight but most of the brides accept the miserable life and slowly get used to it.. 

I didn’t plan to write this article at all initially, but then something happened.. There’s a friend of mine. His sister just like most of the girls, had dreamt of a fantabulous marriage. She would be wearing magnificent dress which would be appreciated by everyone and she would be loved and adored by a handsome man who would respect her and his parents would treat her just like they treat their own daughter. Finally the most special day of her life came. She couldn’t have wished for a better day and all her dreams were coming true. Then as per Indian traditions, it was time for her to part from her birth parents and be a part of a new family and hence the deal completed. But after few days, they started harassing her. Her husband whom she thought would be her saviour, turned into a demon. Her in laws, whom she tried to obey like her own parents, made her life like a living hell.. What could’ve she done at this point of time?? If she would have tried to br eak off from the marriage, it would have brought a bad name to her parents and moreover not even a single penny out of the hard earned money which her parents gave to her in laws as dowry would come back to them. She had already tried the other option of making the marriage work by bearing all the brunt herself, but that hadn’t helped as well.. Helpless and tired of trying all the available options of working out the marriage and to further avoid the pain her married life was causing to her, she committed suicide… The dreams which she n her parents had seen for the past 25 years, since the day she was born, took less than 25 days to get smashed up. What good did that huge amount of money do, which was involved in this marriage? Instead of making everyone happy for the rest of their life, it became the cause of her death!!

I’m not saying don’t celebrate or don’t spend money on the marriage at all but all i’m saying is be logical and ask yourself why and is it worth it?? Don’t be a miser all your life just to save enough money and waste it on the day of your child’s marriage. I know trying to find the perfect groom for your daughter, who will accept your daughter not in lieu of money but for who she is, isn’t going to be easy, but I would say instead of saving lakhs of rupees for last 25 years and then spending it all on that single day, try to invest in your daughter’s education and her endeavours so that just like the guys, even she can earn on her own and stand on her own feet. Giving a huge amount of dowry and spending lakhs in her marriage is not going to help her earn self-respect and happiness in her new family, but making her self sufficient, definitely will. A married couple is like two strong pillars holding the roof of their relationship. For av oiding the roof to fall, both the pillars need to be similar. If not, putting a pile of money over one of the pillars just for the roof to be in balance, might help temporarily but just a spark is enough to incinerate the entire relationship…

Sarvesh Allawadi

BITS Pilani



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s