Are We Headed For Divorce Celebration?

Jun 28, 2010
The solemnization of matrimony vows from the Book of Common Prayers reads: “To have and hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, and in health, to love and cherish, till death do us part.” Added is the imprimatur from the Bible which is enjoined by the priest after the vows are taken: “What therefore God hath joined together let no man put asunder”. (Mathew XIX-6.)
The permanence and indissolubility of marriage stood the test of time for many centuries and that scenario is well painted by James Beattie, Scottish poet (1735-1803):

No jealousy their dawn of love overcast,
Nor blasted were their wedded days with strife;
Each season looked delightful as in past,
To the fond husband and the faithful wife.
The delight, fondness and faithfulness sung by Beattie over two centuries ago is progressively exiting from many marriages as many failed and failing marriages are making a beeline to the courts with applications for divorce. But the disillusionment with marriage had already set in before Beattie as reflected in the following lines:

Thus grief still treads upon the heals of pleasure,
Married in haste, we may repent at leisure.
 - William Congreve, English dramatic poet (1670- 1720).
Marriage has long been considered lifelong bondage leading to restlessness, as implied by Ralph Waldo Emerson, US poet (1803-1882): “Is not marriage an open question when it is alleged, from the beginning of the world, that such as are in the institution wish to get out, and such as are not wish to get in?” The get out route now is divorce which was traditionally dreaded as in the case of death.  Seeing the flood of applications and desperate hurry, the Central government is now amending the relevant Acts and expanding the ground for granting divorce, including “irretrievable breakdown of marriage”. 
The Cabinet on June 10, 2010 approved a bill that seeks to amend the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, and Special Marriage Act, 1954, to provide for the above as a ground for divorce. This would make it possible for a man or woman to seek divorce by proving that his or her marriage had suffered an irretrievable breakdown and escape delays and harassment caused due to reluctance on the part of spouses to turn up in courts.  The bill would provide safeguards to parties of marriage who file the petition for grant of divorce by consent from the harassment in court if any of the party does not come to the court or willingly avoids the court to keep the divorce proceedings inconclusive.
At present various grounds for dissolution of marriage by decree of divorce are laid down in section 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 which include adultery, cruelty, desertion, conversion to another religion, unsoundness of mind, virulent and incurable form of leprosy, venereal disease in a communicable form, renouncement of the world and not heard as being alive for a period of seven years or more. The Section 27 of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 also lays down similar grounds.
However Section 13-B of the Hindu Marriage Act and Section 28 of the Special Marriage Act provide for divorce by mutual consent as ground for presenting a petition for dissolution of marriage. But it has been observed that the parties who have filed petition for mutual consent suffer in case if one of the parties abstains himself or herself from court proceedings and keeps the divorce proceedings inconclusive. This has been causing considerable hardship to the party in dire need of divorce. Easy and fast divorce, shorn of bitterness, may justify celebration, even a joint celebration.
A path-braking instance of celebrating divorce, according to a recent Reuters report, comes from Tokyo, Japan. With divorce on the rise in Japan, some couples are choosing to celebrate the end of an unhappy marriage at a divorce ceremony before friends and family. Divorce ceremonies were pioneered about a year ago by a former salesman, Hiroki Terai, who set up “Divorce Mansion” in a small space in Tokyo. Since then about 25 couples each have paid 55,000 yen (about $ 600) to hold the ceremony with all the pomp and grandeur of a wedding that publicly ends their relationship before they officially file for divorce.
One of the latest couples, Mr and Mrs Fujii, rode in separate rickshaws to the divorce mansion. “By putting an end to our marriage we wanted to give ourselves fresh starts and give our lives a sense of renewal,” Fijii, a 33 year-old businessman said. He said he felt responsible for the failure of his marriage as he spent too much time away from home and too much money on his various interests including cars – despite numerous warnings from his wife.
 At the ceremony they smashed their wedding rings with a gavel, a gesture signifying the end of their partnership. A gavel has a frog’s head as frogs symbolize change in Japanese culture. “When we smash the rings together, I felt ‘oh, this is the end of it, really’ and my heart and soul felt renewed. Now I feel I can have a new life and start all over again,” said Fujii. His wife of eight years also expressed relief: “The moment I saw the smashed ring, I said to myself, ‘Yes! That feels so good’.”
Terai, who is believed to be Japan’s first “divorce ceremony planner”, came up with the idea of divorce ceremonies to help couples celebrate decision to separate after one of his friends was going through a bitter divorce. And now he is set to take his pioneering gimmick beyond Japan. In July 2010 Terai heads off on his first business venture abroad to Korea to officially divorce a couple in Seoul.
While all this sounds novel and interesting, and has potential to spread elsewhere, where do the children of divorcees, if any, fit into the picture? Will India import the Japanese novelty by joyously celebrating divorce with family and friends? Instead of smashing the wedding rings with a gavel, will Indians evolve some indigenous rituals?

John B. Monteiro, author and journalist, is editor of his website (Interactive Cerebral Challenger).

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By John B. Monteiro
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Comment on this article

  • Stanley R.D'Costa, Mangalore

    Fri, Jul 02 2010

    If one reads the great poet Mr.Socrates about 200 years ago he wrote then that our children are not listening to us, they don't care elders, they are not respecting elders etc., etc., If then the society was so? how is the society today? So the old things repeats again and again but we think it happens only during our time. We have to learn to live with the changing world.

  • Alban D' Souza, Udyavara, Doha Qatar

    Thu, Jul 01 2010

    The divorce is increases day by day but we have to take some serious steps to stop this. Or for a certain extent wherever possible. The question is on each individual One should not encourage divorce. Instead of blaming others should see once own concience man or woman. Marriage is a sacred institution but sure to arise problems and differences. One has to see divine providene and assistance and counseling before taking final step. There are social organizations helping the couples also church, temples priests.Life is for happiness of the couples. Of course one has to decide divorce is the only way for happiness or other around for happiness. This life is not only bed of roses but also there are thorns which requires sacrifce dedication adjustments and forgiveness for which we have to look to God Himself who led an example by giving His own life on the cross the supreme sacrifice. Finance plays a bigger role in each others happiness. Nowardays women also supporting the family with finance. So understand each other is the only way to create a better environments at home.

  • mukund, Mangalore

    Tue, Jun 29 2010

    Mr. A.S. Mathew has a point. Religious leaders are so busy with other agenda that the fundamental societal issues they have set out to help takes a backseat. The church is busy with expansion and harvesting souls that they don't have time for existing members. This is not just the problem with the Church but with most organizations, everyone is on a fast track to building schools, hospitals, orphanages, which in my opinion are a guise for making money and evading taxes. Even schools that have been started by these organizations be it hindu or christian have ended up taking donations/capitation fees and are less and less meant for the needy.
    Back to the topic, Divorce is inevitable in the current society where opportunity and equality is everywhere. Isn't this "career building" what we strive for?. Currently there is no difference between a man and a woman in terms 'earning' capacity. Arranged marriage will be a thing of the past, so it is not long before once chooses a spouse and then finds someone even better and trades up. Kids have become nothing more than an education plan.. set one for 20 years and pay the annual dues. Put them for tennis and ballet and all is good.
    This was the same issue we saw when we broke up the 'joint family system' to a modern 'nuclear' society. It had a lot of pro's, no interference, independence. However, the flip side was more work and too busy paying the bills.
    It is difficult to tell what is good and what is bad. Every generation has a change and price to pay. Today women have a voice at least and it is no longer a male dominated society. Education has removed 'God' factor and this has lead to the decline in the sanctity of marriage. Wonder where this is all headed in the next 50 years. However, Human beings will always find a way. It will hurt the old ways for a moment but then we will evolve with a next best option.

  • bulsam, Mangalore

    Tue, Jun 29 2010

    People misunderstood marraige as a tool for either one of them to provide money, house, sex, children, shopping, cooking, washing, socialising, holidaying etc. In a marriage more important should be given to co-operation, co-ordination, sharing, caring, calming, adjusting etc.
    Happiness is within and not without. Nobody can bring happiness to you except yourself. Learn to be content with what is provided at each situation and adjust with it and convert best utility value out of it and get miximum positive feeling from it.
    Don't bring nagative environement like comparing their habbits or their belongings to others and nagging at each situation etc. That will create more drift and loneliness. Learn to give one their space, their belonging, their freedom and tolerate their typical habits because each individual has unique habits and mind set which is influenced by their genes hence one cannot change them. Adjust, tolerate, accept, listern, sacrifice etc are the right mantra for a successful friendship or marriage.

  • adshenoy, mangloor

    Mon, Jun 28 2010

    The one and only future of most todays marriages is -DIVORCE. Like anything else I am not surprised it will be a cause for celebaration. Possibly another day- Divorce day?

  • A.S.Mathew, U.S.A.

    Mon, Jun 28 2010

    The pandemic called " divorce" used
    to be the exclusive birthright of the western world, but it has
    already infected in the eastern
    world. As Bangalore is turning as
    a mega city with wealth, that city
    is faced with more divorce problem
    than the Silicone valley of

    As the picture shows, the children
    are going to pay the high price
    of a divorce. And the rate of
    drug addicts and juvenile deliquencies is far higher than
    children from solid families.

    The higher standard of living
    has an underlying problem of
    heavy stress, and the stress is
    overlapping the families.

    The spirit of independence has an
    overbearing influence in breaking
    up the marriages.

    Religious leaders are greatly
    concerned with, in expanding their
    religious empire, and they have
    no time for broken families of the
    believers. This menace has to be
    dealt with as the first and foremost priority of various
    religion and religious leaders.
    Else, the next generation from the
    broken families are ending up,
    not in the religious institutions
    but in jails and roadside.

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