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When I saw a friend, a childhood sweetheart and beer buddy of her equally qualified groom, touch his feet in the traditional wedding ritual, it made me wonder - what are our core values today?
When I saw a friend, a childhood sweetheart and beer buddy of her equally qualified groom, touch his feet in the traditional wedding ritual, it made me wonder – what are our core values today?
Are we truly equals in our 21st century marriages or is there a contradiction when it comes to our weddings ? Do we prefer to be fashionably feminist while there’s a dichotomy in traditions symbolising patriarchal values.
At our dear friend Aparajita’s wedding, after a wonderful bachelorette beach party, mehndi and rocking sangeet, we woke up to hangover, shehnai, and a sombre morning. The marriage ceremony was a reminder of the beginning of a very formal, structured relationship after the bonhomie and revelry of previous nights.
Sadly, the bride’s family completely paid for the hospitality, and they looked as if turbulence had hit them. The girl’s father smiled painfully masking his worries, while the mother looked overcome by fatigue and innumerable guests. Family elders and uncles had taken their positions of power and hierarchy among relatives, and friends were relegated to the background once their job was done.. as the great Indian family prevailed centre stage.
Guests watched, hawk-eyed, the jewellery, costumes and ceremony for any glitches that could make way for tomorrow’s gossip. The family of the bride rallied around, hoping that nothing rubbed the boy’s people the wrong way. Waiters moved with trays of drinks and oily starters, photographers and videowallahs took up guard with paraphernalia.
The only ones smiling were those taking selfies, preening to perfect pouts, and girls with flowers and kumkum at the entrance, having nothing to do with the actual ceremony.
Quickly, the shehnai worked up a crescendo, and before we knew it, the sindoor-mangalsutra moment happened, with multiple clicks, flash lights, and a shower of petals and akshata.
Just as this happened, we saw the bride in her 30 kg designer lehenga and spaghetti choli go all coy and demure, and bend and touch the groom’s feet in a symbolic gesture of a dutiful wife. Everyone from boy’s family were impressed with the humility of a modern bride as the groom neither restrained nor stopped her, smiling God-like.
it was supposed to be a love match, the couple were high school sweethearts, both toppers at engineering college and beer buddies after work.
What’s is the big idea of touching a bridegroom’s feet after the tying of mangalsutra ? Is it among our first reaction of a sense of gratitude after being ‘conferred’ with wife-hood? Or is it to keep the traditionalists happy if you did it quietly without questioning? After all your status just got upgraded from Miss to Mrs… and surname, home, kula, gotra all changed with ek chutki sindoor! Time to update status “taken” on Instagram, Facebook, whatever….
We are happy to wear markers of marriage representing suhagan (married), the vermillion dot or bindi, sindoor, chudi, finger and toe rings, mangalsutra that symbolise marriage. We are taught to wear them regularly and you’re accused of being disrespectful towards the marriage, if you didn’t show up in them. Why don’t men keep at least one single piece, that symbolise our existence in their lives.
Because, they aren’t property that changed hands, or gifts to be given away (daan). Men don’t undergo this metamorphosis; why then, are we eager to be seen as a conformist swinging between traditional and modern naari?
What happened to the fun loving, high spirited girl who sat late nights or partied with with some good tipple and mischief? All it took is “ek chutki sindoor” from a Ramesh babu or Rihaan babe that became the game changer.
Isn’t marriage about becoming equal partners with dignity, respect and human spirit in the journey of life?
Seeking blessings while touching the feet of elders as obeisance or mark of respect and humility is customary in our society, but touching the groom’s feet was unsettling, and felt out of place in today’s time and era.
Touching feet of a partner doesn’t sit well in 21st century India. I don’t get why girls (anywhere for the matter) who are qualified, independent and liberated, acquiesce to feet touching and publicly accepting that a man should supremacy or dominance in the relationship!
Women need to stand up for their choices before submitting blindly to traditions. There’s more to marriage than a style quotient, dream wedding, and destination honeymoons. Time we learn that core values and beliefs shape relationships, attitude defines modernity, and liberation lies in strength of character and spirit.
A version of this was first published here.
Image source: Unsplash
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