Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Two funerals and a canceled engagement

    One of the reasons we intended to go to India this year was for my vadina's marriage (husband-ji's younger cousin-sister). They were begging us to come, so we caved in and booked the expensive flight tickets. Then, a week later...the wedding was canceled indefinitely! 

AIYOOOO RAMA.

The story goes like this - it was an arranged match. Both the families had agreed on a date from the astrologer. Both families are very traditional Telugu types. Then, one of the groom's relatives died. As per [South Indian] Hindu custom, it is inauspicious for a groom to get married within a year of the relative's death. So, they had to extend the engagement/wedding date to after the 1 year period was over - December 2014.

The engagement was set for December 1st and the wedding for December 7th, those being lucky dates for the couple. During this time, the couple had been getting to know each other better as they intended to get married. 

Then, as Summer rolls around, another relative on the groom's side falls ill. This relative wants the young couple to go ahead with the marriage, no matter what happens. She does not want them to follow the custom of waiting another whole year. In [South Indian] Hindu custom, if an engagement is already performed, then the young couple has to get married no matter what, within a certain time frame. The families eagerly scramble to find an auspicious date within a week and set a last minute engagement ceremony so that the couple can go forth with the marriage, even if there is a death. The bride's side spends a lot of money getting the venue, priests, food, flowers, invitations printed, gold, clothing, and gifts.

Then, the relative unfortunately dies less than 24 hours before the engagement ceremony, and all hell breaks loose. All of a sudden the groom's family is blaming the bride and saying she is bad luck to their family. The groom's mother is saying not to get married. The bride's father is superstitious and doesn't want them to get married, but rather he wants her married to someone ELSE within 3 months. The groom only listens to his mother. The bride's aunt is now saying the groom's brother was disrespectful to her and she never approved of the match. The bride still wants to get married because she has started to love the groom. The groom does not. The family astrologer is saying there will be no "good dates" for the next few years. Neither one wants to wait two years.

Husband-ji was on the phone with his cousin-sister for about 4 hours as she was wailing. He asked her, "What do YOU want to do?" Apparently nobody had even asked her this question. He said, "Forget everybody. This is YOUR life, this is YOUR marriage and the person you will have to live with for the next 60 years. What do YOU want, for YOU?" He instructed her to go to a quiet place and think about what she wanted - not for her parents or anybody else.

In the end, another family member who practices astrology said that there were no good dates for 5 years. So that means that she would probably not get married until she was 28 - a normal ripe age in the Western world. I feel quite relieved for her because that way she will have some time to work on her career and life goals before she settles into slavery married life!!!

The last we heard of this cousin-sister was that she wanted to come abroad to study in Canada. We were helping her research schools. Then her parents said it was too expensive, and basically pushed her to get married instead. Because, you know, if you're a girl in India, you apparently have to CHOOSE between getting an education, and being married off. (What the hell!) Of course now that everything has been cancelled, I'm betting her parents are regretting not investing that money into her Master's degree!

Quite an interesting scenario to witness. The first thing that struck me was that there were too many opinions being considered instead of the TWO people who were going to be in the union. Another is that I know from personal experience - when two people want to get married, nothing can stop them. Nothing. If the union was so easily broken by these things, then how would it survive 60+ years? So, maybe it just wasn't meant to be.

Anyway, we will be going to India for a vacation as we have already booked our tickets. But no wedding this time! Maybe we can crash another...?

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34 comments

  1. Well it seems to me Destiny has plotted for you to go back to India ! (Padparadscha)

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  2. @alexandra

    When a relative dies on the bride's side it is kept a secret otherwise the bridegroom's family can call off the marriage. Sometimes both the sides decide to go ahead with the marriage as the arrangements have already been made. Sometomes some ceremony is performed to get over the problem. There are ways to get over these things as per the priests. Practical people find a way out. However, if you have even a slight belief in these things you are apprehensive. Nobody wants something unfortunate to happen to the couple or the families. Even the most liberal of hindus have problems in these situations. Like all things indian it is complicated.

    As for a girl's marriage and education parents are in a catch 22 situation. They have to first spend a fortune on education of the girl and then spend an equal amount on marriage. Its is like double wammy. If u have more than one daughter the expense increases. All marriages love or arranged are expensive in india. Some people open a recurring deposit or fixed deposit as soon as a girl is born and then accumulate gold for her marriage. It is like a taxi fare metre. As soon as you hire a taxi it starts. Parents see the girl and start worrying about marriage and dowry.
    Girls get a limited time to prove themselves. Unfortunately, this has always been the situation. It is most unfair on girls. But for parents the financial burden of a girl child makes them less desirable. Plus india being unsafe for women parents are always worried. These are certain practical problems the parents face which keep them constantly worried. However this has not hampered women from taking charge of their lives which is most refreshing.

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    1. I also felt that way also, like there must be ways to get over such obnstacles. Clearly for Mangliks they can trick the Gods and marry a tree first, for example. I think that particular match was just not meant to be. If people LET things break them apart, then anything and everything WILL.
      I am often debating with my hubby about these things. We often notice girls paying fortunes for their education and then in turn getting married and not working. Then my hubby says what is the point of all that. Then I debate that the girls should not be pushed to get married. Then he says for a conservative Indian girl, that is not an option, the way society is.
      And OMG marriages are soooo expensive. It has really gotten ridiculous. The marriage industry is really making $$$$!!!!!

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  3. Yeah I knw how it is..been der done dat,, its sad for girls esp traditional telugu girls

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  4. Oh my God. It is ridiculous how they blame the girl for every single thing. Come on! Tell me why oh why the astrologer cannot predict THESE things but he can predict that she will not get married in the next 5 years? How convenient.

    Secondly, see what the couple feels about the marriage not what everybody else feels.

    Thirdly, if the guy still only listens to his mommy, well then, he is not capable of making his own decisions and will never stand up for his wife. Good thing, she did not end up with him.

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    1. Exactly! Every day we get a different report that this astrologer says one thing and another says another thing, how about the fact that life is actually in our own hands?!?!
      I am glad the match was canceled, clearly mommy dearest was calling the shots. Yuck..

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  5. She's better off with out him. If he is not willing at this point to stand up to his mother/family and make the marriage happen...just imagine what lies in wait in the future. It is sad and upsetting, but maybe a blessing in disguise.

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  6. Wow! Indian families and drama...!
    Hey I am so happy, we are preparing my first trip to India right now! We will visit his family and Chennai and travel around a little, I'm super excited!

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    1. Amazing!!!!!! Have the best time :))))))

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    1. You'll have a great time.....shop lots!

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  8. This post reminds me of Justice Markandey Katju's comment: ""I say ninety percent of Indians are idiots. You people don't have brains in your heads....It is so easy to take you for a ride."
    - Rebecca

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  9. hello Alex , i am a big fan of your blogs and love your articles very much

    i am an INDIAN and i want to point out to you somethings which is bothering me and hopefully many others

    INDIAN culture is thousands of years old you know that very well , the truth is that Indian culture has always been advocating equal rights for women , if you search in Google and read our teachings(which are several thousand years old) you will realize the truth

    its true many people here treat women badly even going to the extent of raping them and killing them , there are many households were women are abused both verbally and physically all these are very shameful and these should not happen ,as an Indian i believe the new generation of young Indians will gradually change and women can gain their rights which they fully deserve but the thing is Indian culture has nothing to with the behaviour of these rogues , these are not what was taught to us , this shame is just not Indian culture at all the perfect example is we worship so many Goddesses and thats what our True unadulterated Indian culture preaches ,its as simple as that that why we call India as Bharat Mata(mother india) , when a girl is not allowed to go outside after 6'o clock that is not what Indian culture teaches , when a woman is molested that is not what Indian culture teaches , when a mother-in-law of father-in-law treats their daughter-in-law badly that is not what Indian culture teaches

    the true Indian culture is what is followed by your Husband ,what was followed by Mahatma gandhi , what was followed by Swami Vivekananda ,what was followed by subramanya bharathi not some thing done by some minority of misogynist rogues and lastly Indian culture teaches us to respect women like our mothers and sisters , there are so many people even in the west praise Indian Culture and some even follow it


    i hope you'd see the difference Alex ,i hope you don't find this offensive ,once again i am your big fan ,looking forward to many more articles from you , all the best

    once Swami Vivekanda went to give speech at the World Parliament of Religions, Chicago, after his speech at one point of time a american woman asked him to marry her Indirectly by saying "i want to become a mother by you" , he replied by saying "think of me as your son and you will become a mother because of me" , that is how a true Indian is and that is what Indian culture teaches

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    1. According to dictionary.com one definition of culture is "the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings and transmitted from one generation to another." While what you describe is your idealized version of Indian culture it is not in fact the Indian culture that exists in India today. Women and girls are widely mistreated in India because of the prevailing culture that currently exists in India. While it may be true that Indian culture historically advocated for gender equality that culture obviously no longer exists because the fact is that India is one of the worst countries in the world to be female. I also disagree that the mistreatment of women and girls in India is due to the behavior of as you put it "rogues." India is fundamentally a heavily patriarchal society where women and girls are subject to abortion, infanticide, child abuse, neglect, abuse (emotional, physical, and sexual), forced marriage, domestic violence, rape, sexual harassment, elder abuse, sexual exploitation, human trafficking, and abandonment. - Rebecca

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    2. Madam i completely agree with your argument , in fact i have said the same thing ,everyone wants to live in a Ideal world and will compare reality with ideal world situation and my argument is Ideal Indian Culture advocates gender equality always throughout its existence but the people who follow it are distorting it as per there wishes , there is bias against women in all societies throughout the world and i admit in India its much more than many other countries but i am an Idealist and am sure there are many others with the same mindset , i see it through a clear prism , in no way am i dis-agreeing with you , but there are many families who give complete independence to their daughters and sons , that is way i have been raised and that is how it will be in my family in the future too and i hope that the coming generations of young Indians will change and follow the Ideal Indian culture

      there is a reason why i am saying this in this forum and that is there are many people here who have married Indians and there are many are going to in the future , i don't want you people to misconceive the Indian culture , its a very good culture which has been distorted and adulterated by present day Indians

      i am also in a relationship with a girl belonging to another ethnicity and my parents have happily accepted her and treat her like their own daughter and i hope all of you also will have happy married life with your Indian Spouses , thank you all and thank you Alex, Maddy is really lucky to get you , you two remind me of Alaipayuthey, i wish you all the best

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    3. I agree Rebecca. Indians have completely distorted what used to be our culture..now it has been replaced by many people with greed, lust, and disrespect. Its not just his idealized version of Indian culture, its what used to previously exist. I think what he is trying to say is that these people who behave so inexcusably are not a true representation of the culture, they are distortions who have no conception of how they should behave. The fact these distortions make up the bulk of Indian men is a reality that is very heart breaking..
      Divya

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    4. @ 1st anonymous - I agree that this is not what Indian culture is, at the very core. But unfortunately the misogyny is becoming more and more. It is the clear practical thinkers like yourself who are becoming the "rogues", it is very unfortunate. This is not what Gandhi wanted, this is not what our ancestors wanted. I really believe the politics set the tone, and unfortunately many are corrupt and don't give a damn about women's rights which is half the population. So many youngsters are leaving India because it has become so intolerant. It is unfortunate to say the least, but what to do...

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  10. Silly arranged marriage........just wondering how one can spend the rest of his/ her life without love in a marriage.........pathetic life !!! that too when the bride or groom is in love with someone else.

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    1. Who said there is no love in arranged marriage ?

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    2. I did.......becoz Im the living experience myself......the hell with what astrologers say.....I should have followed my heart....

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    3. It is convenient for astrologers because they don't have to live with the choices they tell others to do...if only they could walk in another's shoes...

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  11. mel gibsons marriages, charlie sheens marriages, nikolas sarkojis marriages are perfect example for love marriage. and kids whom none of theirs parents love are the fruits of love marriages because their parents have got fade up with their physical love . thats why they keen onto make babies with other peoples like katie jordan and footballer ryan giggs.and simultaneously her previous babies become burden to her and her new sex mate. but in indian society that never happens every couple learns how to love and grow in a relation without solely depending upon sex, it is the responsibility that binds them .thats why family ties are considered so revered in our society. so please dont try to intrude it .keep your sexual junks to yourself.

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    1. Unfortunately so many Indian children die before they reach the age of 5.

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    2. @1st anon
      LMAO. You do realize that I have been with my husband for nearly 10 years? Do you realize that my parents have been together for 40 years? Do you realize that my grandparents were together for 60 years? All sex before marriage, all happily married. Sure, I will and I do keep "my sexual junks" to myself. That is actually reserved for my husband. And we are very happily married :D

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  12. Simple solution. Those who like and love Indian culture can stick to it and those who love western culture can adopt and stay there. No compulsion. I love Indian culture and in no condition I would like to exchange it for any other. Although I am a woman.

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    1. Many people like myself can celebrate the best from both cultures. To commit to a culture you do not have to accept every single thing.

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  13. Congratulations, your blog has been nominated for NEPALIAUSTRALIAN’s Blog Award 2014. Please click the link for more details.

    http://nepaliaustralian.com/2014/11/03/nepaliaustralians-blog-award-2014-nominations-announced/

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  14. I hope she does get to study abroad and gets a nice job in another country and then is empowered to make her own choices.

    This week at my daughter's school parents were complaining that one teacher left this year and another last year. Last year the lady had a baby and the cost for good care versus a teacher's salary just doesn't make it worth while "if" she wants to or is allowed to workeep.

    The other teacher who left over diwali got married and her in laws said no to her working . The principal was pretty diplomatic and blunt in telling the parents who were complaining that she can't exactly not allow women to get married. I mean there are many families who are conservative / traditional / what ever you want to call it and do not want "their" daughter in laws to continue working. (In this situation there was courtesy given and The school was able to do a one week overlap to transition the teachers and help the kids adjust)

    but women are often seen as "investments" for the grooms family . ... but the person here isnt always given a choice.

    Which for your husband's cousin I hope this gives her time to have... A choice in her own life.

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    1. It is shocking, as a woman, to see SO much pressure over the girl's life and the girl's choices, without even asking her. There basically is no choice.
      At this point the only thing I am hoping for is that she marries a man who is extremely modern and believes in equality. Although I wish she would study first :(

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  15. so alexandra, i am curious, what happened in the end? did she married with the guy? i am also curious about all the process regarding arranged marriages. how long does it take to find a suitable boy/girl? i am just wondering why they are single and all of a sudden are completely engaged, like for miracle. could you write a post about this issue? and why indians never follow their hears and "learn" how to love. i am freaking out about this issue. regards,A

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