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An interesting look at why brides cry at weddings – our society expects her to. Because clearly, society knows that she is about to lose her freedom. But why should that be?
How idiotic is it to cry at your own wedding? The ritual called vidai in Hindu marriages expect women to mourn the fact that they are being ‘handed over‘ to their husband’s family by her father. After all, that is what the traditional marriage has reduced a woman to. A ‘thing’ to be ‘given away’!
While relatives and friends give the bride a teary eyed farewell, the woman is made to feel so minuscule by this act. Of course, you cry because you expect her to make all requisite changes to ‘fit into’ someone else’s life and house. Everyone becomes the part of the melodrama with sad Bollywood songs and customary folk songs of bidding farewell to the bride. What a punishment to the bride who can’t conceal her happiness of getting married to the man she loves!
The other day I looked at my wedding album and saw smiling faces during vidai. My family was so happy for me at my wedding for the fact that I found a life partner I liked. Why should anyone cry for this? Isn’t it is pretentious for a women to howl at her own wedding accepting the fact that she is akin to furniture being handed from one family to other family? Even at the cost of sounding very naïve, I am glad that I have unlearnt a major chunk of this stupidity in our culture
I recently attended a wedding where the kith and kin of a woman having top notch career were howling during the vidai. This woman was very happy for marrying to her half-a-decade-long boyfriend and live in partner. However she was expected to show her grief for cutting off ties from her own household. .
This cultural regression can never be erased by a display of professional and personal excellence by a woman. We have ensured it culturally that freedom of choice and thoughts for women remain contradictory to cultural values. She still remains ‘furniture’ and it is reminded to her at every ritual.
During the vidai ceremony the bride accompanied by her loved ones crosses the doorsteps throwing back handfuls of rice and coins over her head, into the house. It is symbolic for the bride repaying her parents for all that they have given her so far. While a bride can repay all her debts to her parents in just one day, the groom has to pay back the debt to his family throughout his life, also pushing the wife to pay his debt many a times with a hefty dowry. How does this argument bear any rationality and equality we claim to be achieving?
Let us do a quick check on the fundamentals – why women should cry at their weddings.
In the olden times when the majority of women were economically dependent, did not choose the man they were marrying, and were in dear daddy’s custody till the appropriate groom appears, they would cry a lot during the wedding. It is natural for a helpless person to cry in such situations – she was not given a choice.
A man will usually not cry as his ass is fixed to his home from birth to death in one house. A woman is expected to have two homes, both equally suffocating and debilitating for her personal growth in many cases. It is instructed to her during the wedding that she is born in father’s family but her funeral must be organized at husband’s household. She must strive to achieve this benchmark to become an ideal wife and a woman.
Despite this argument being etched into women’s head, many women are increasingly choosing to opt out of non-functional marriages. I recall a divorce of a close friend who was being taunted for not following the dictum. Your funeral becomes more important than the life which you live. What an irony! In the present times, when most women are choosing their career trajectory and life partner, and not hesitating to opt out of unfulfilling marriages, does it make any sense to mourn during the wedding and display utter helplessness?
Personally, I howled like hell when I moved out of my house after finishing high school for higher studies. The comfort of home was a cushion which I did not want to leave but I had to. I got married after living almost thirteen years of my life outside home, to the man I chose to get married to. My heart still gets heavy when I have to leave my parents’ home after vacations. It is a natural emotion which a person who grew up in a healthy atmosphere will feel.
Over the years, I have grown independent enough to manage my own household like any other adult. But to be expected to become a domestic goddess just because now you are married? It is laughable if a woman or a man is suddenly expected to manage his/ her household or career more seriously on the basis of relationship status.
You are also mistaken if you believe that you can burden someone else with your responsibility. We all are expected to take care of ourselves emotionally and financially as an adult. That is a sign of a healthy human being. If you can’t take care of yourself, a relationship can – rather, must wait.
Amongst many sexist jokes cracked during Indian weddings, one of the most despicable is that the bride cries during the vidai and groom for rest of his life. Why should any man be marrying a woman who is so willing to just throw away all her emotional and financial responsibility to the man?
Why should you let this emotion permeate inside that you will be a formal guest in your own home after wedding? When a bride cries at her wedding, she acknowledges the fact that she is moving out of her comfort zone and going to ‘change’ herself to ‘fit-in’. It is a shame if someone expects a 21st century woman to acknowledge the fact that she will not be accepted the way she is by the family who claims to give her new identity. Any sane individual who deserves to be treated like a human being will definitely not be comfortable in being perceived like this.
A friend candidly accepted that she howled like hell in her wedding to get good ‘vidai’ pictures. She paid a bounty sum to candid photographers for capturing the ‘moment’. I appreciate this straightforward acceptance more than mundane lectures on culture. Other than candid photography of a crying bride which can be used as a vintage photo collection of the sinking ‘culture’, this tradition is absolutely obsolete and demeaning for women.
Image source: youtube