Aug 1, 2010
When I was a kid, I remember dad teasing me with the song ”Bara soron thera lagli ge mai, kazar kar ge maka”. One thing which we can observe in the this verse is the age of the bride. Bara saron thera! That is, I am past twelve and I am thirteen, so get me married. This was true. Girls used to be betrothed at the age twelve and thirteen.
While seeking an alliance ‘Kulli’ or caste played a mighty big role. Brahmins would never marry a girl or a boy from lower strata. Earlier the groom had to be elder than the bride. This was so that the husband wouldn’t lose attraction in his wife and wife looked younger when the husband reached his midlife. Today if the bride is elder to the groom it doesn’t matter. Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai are an example. Kannada film actress Jayanthi married a male half her age long back. Well, maybe this was an exception. Today the accepted age of marriage has escalated to almost 26 to 30. Certain degrees need that kind of time to settle. Today’s modern women want to touch the skies, fly like a free bird, enjoy their professional life and then find a suitable life partner of their preference and then enter wedlock.
In earlier times the ‘match maker’ played a pivotal role. He was greatly respected in the society but not anymore. But then, he would gain good commission from both the parties. This was known as ‘Rusum’. He used to be very smart and he would initiate the process with these words, “amger ek padko vadon podla, thoxenx thumger ek paadki vadon podlya munnon aikolam. Thaanka dogaynki eka gotyanth bangyangi munn vicharche kotir tumger aiylyavn”. This is mentioned in V D’Silva’s book ‘Adlin Kazaraam’. While seeking the proposal only two persons would visit the girl’s house, boy’s father and the match maker. If the proposal was approved then only the groom would visit the bride’s house. The bride-to-be would serve jaggery and water to the guest and then would go inside the house. She was only allowed to peep either from the window or from the gap between the doors. If the girl was selected and proposal finalized then the guests would be served with ‘panpole’ and coffee made from jaggery.
Today all these norms and customs have been totally flung around. The bride’s family gives a recent photograph of the girl with a lot of Photoshop editing done to the match maker and vice versa for the boy too. Then if the girl and the boy like each other’s photograph they take the contact number from the match maker, talk to each other on the phone or chat using messengers and then meet outside and after 3 to 4 months decide to get engaged and then six months later if they still decide they have mutual feelings and that this is the person really made for them then they decide to get married. But this happens only in rare case. Like job interviews trying for a better one, girl/boy look for more choices and the same procedure repeats. Despite this, after marriage people still repent saying I should have waited and tried for better!
The match maker is at the vanishing point too. Marriage bureaus and matrimonial websites are widely used. Many fall in love via chatting, Facebook and other social networking sites. In many cases the elderly people have less involvement. Decision factor is now absolutely a choice of the marrying aspirants. Of course change has taken place according to time. Many more changes are on the way.
How did these kind of marriages become so successful in earlier times? Can it be said that falling in love after marriage is a better idea? Intimacy breeds contempt. Suppose lovers meet in advance and lose the charm of intimacy before wedding, could it result in a failure of marriage? Could this be the reason for the increasing rate of divorce? What is the right criterion for a successful marriage? Something like, no matter what happens, I have to go along with this partner which seems to be very much intolerable.
Today we are given a lot of choices, freedom to choose what we want and what we do not. Is that the reason we fail in making the correct choices? Is it that due to the limited choice given during the olden days arranged marriages were successful to a large extent? I have an old friend who recently celebrated 24 years of marriage and is still very happy.
So what’s happening? Why is the conventional form being thrown away? These days people are restless, especially because many more things are taken into consideration. The western influence seems to be affecting Indian culture where customs and traditions are of great value. Well, life has to go on....
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