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Indian weddings can be a fun celebration, but the entitlement shown by the men's side, the outdated, patriarchal customs, and the over-the-top spending really needs to go.
Indian weddings can be a fun celebration, but the entitlement shown by the men’s side, the outdated, patriarchal customs, and the over-the-top spending really needs to go.
If you have watched the recent ‘Made in Heaven’ series, you would have a very good idea of what I am going to talk about.
Starting from the character certificate for the bride, the horoscope matching, getting married to the tree, to subtle forms of dowry, we have it all to spice things up. Not to forget the insensitivity in gulping down archaic and deep rooted patriarchal practices; like kanyadaan and the bride’s father washing the feet of the groom.
The worst is that as a guest, despite knowing it all you have little control over what you see.
Toxic relatives and guests who you have never seen standing by you in tough times are invited to grace the occasion and shower their blessings. What a great model of ‘Vasudhaiv kutumbakam (The world is my family)!’ Not to forget, ‘Doodho nahao, pooto falo (Produce lot of babies – mind you male only!).
These people have no shame in getting into the couple’s bedroom matters, and even deciding the biological sex of the child.
Only if you delve deeper do you realise that it is a mob and an orchestra, playing to ensure the immense amount of consumerism, the blatant display of wealth, and overburdening the bride side of the family with unrealistic expectations.
During one of my interactions with a non-Indian colleague, he remarked, “Priya, I love Indian weddings. So colourful, and the Bollywood dances! But I have also heard that the bride’s family bear the entire expense. Is it true? Do you think even educated women and men today agree to it?”
My answer to the last question was an obvious yes.
For the first part, I too enjoy parties and a colourful wedding. But at every wedding that I have attended till date, I have seen a subtle form of harassment, starting even before the wedding.
Even though the Dowry Prevention Act 1961 and subsequent sections 304B and the dreaded 498A aim to uproot dowry, patriarchy has devised new ways for its survival.
It starts by the groom’s side demanding a wedding in a fancy hotel, quoting the number of guests (well, it goes up to 1000 in so many cases), the groom’s side refusing to bring the baraat till the token dowry amount is paid, the groom’s side refusing to take the bride to her marital home after the wedding if the dowry is not paid, and the subsequent patriarchal traditional practices that the bride needs to swallow. The ‘baby’ groom is never expected to grow up, as the role of the mother is expected to be taken over by the newly wedded wife. Enough has been written about how absurd it is to find a mother in the wife.
Since I was the last one in my age group to get married, I had an opportunity to contest much of this.
I still remember when I had argued with the groom in a wedding about bringing the baraat 4 hours late. I was branded as ‘short tempered’. Previously, as a ten-year-old kid, I had confronted a relative, much to their embarrassment, about why the hell the bride’s side was showering notes on everyone!
In my own wedding, I ensured that the expenses were divided equally. How can you stand a man who does not even have the balls to pay for his own wedding? However, to my surprise, when I asked a friend why she was letting her father splurge so much on her wedding, she remarked, “that’s what my father’s money is for, and you don’t need to get into that zone!”
The point is not how much money you have, but the fact that someone else gets to decide how much you throw away in the wedding and on his family, just on the basis of being man! I do hope to see a day in India where ‘daughter’s wedding expenses’ do not remain a concern for the parents.
Coming to consumerism, the amount of waste generated in weddings is enough to feed lakhs of children in an emerging power like ours, where malnutrition still remains a national shame.
I happened to speak to a friend who had recently got separated from her husband. “I hate the way I got married. So many cuisines, unwanted gifts, and unwanted guests,” she said. “Now the same guests come to taunt me about my separation and they say they are just ‘concerned’!” These guests give you gifts to show off their status. Parents mindlessly splurge their savings to display their status.
I love parties and weddings, but only when they are a moment for celebration. A conscientious individual can’t celebrate disrobing the bride’s family of the respect they deserve. Stop this obnoxious display of male entitlement in Indian weddings.
At the same time who wants unwanted gifts, unwanted guests, and excessive food in the weddings? I have decided that I will attend weddings only when I don’t have to go through the pain of bearing all this.
Image source: shutterstock
Priya Tripathi identifies herself as a feminist, bibliophile, survivor and a runner. She believes her upbringing in small town in a highly patriarchal set up has been a blessing in disguise. It helped her to read more...
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