Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Big Fat Indian Wedding and me!!

There is something about the big fat Indian wedding that is intimidating . Or may be there is something wrong with me? I mean everybody seems to be in love with those…all except me. Our Bollywood has a separate genre of movies dealing with marriages( most of them block busters). Most TV soap operas these days deal with the ritualistic marriages and well, audiences adore these.Not only these , even lifestyle shows talk incessantly about wedding jewellery, dresses, trends and venues . Even on a family level you find everybody so excited talking about someone’s wedding- even for persons they hardly know. As a group we Indians love the pomp and show at our weddings. We love arranging them, talking about them and seem to enjoy everything associated with it. Here I again take a turn and confess being a very un-Indian person . I hate ritualistic marriages and avoid attending them like plague . I ensured that I missed all my cousins weddings and do not even care to attend most parties I am invited to for my colleagues weddings. I remember even as a child I always found the wedding processions and the functions very fussy and if I may say, repulsive. Coming from a family where non-ritualistic marriage (usually civil marriage) was the norm, this attitude may have something to do with my upbringing. But the disturbing part is that my annoyance and dislike for these functions is very visible on my face . Despite my best efforts I cannot even appear to look interested in looking at somebody’s wedding album or admiring the pretty bride. My family members and friends fail to understand my feelings on the subject . Like when I told the female colleagues this morning that I absolutely hate wearing jewellery , they were aghast . For them this is THE topic for discussion given I am going to attend my Brother in law’s wedding . They also fail to see my point when I tell them that I am bit worried about wearing the fancy silk sarees in this weather . For them, weather takes two hoots when it comes to attend a wedding….even backless/ sleeveless dresses go for a wedding in freezing cold months and why not a kanjivaram silk for June wedding at hot and humid Kolkata .

My point is very simple, if the wedding is all about fun and happiness why can’t we cut out all the fuss. My guess is that most people enjoy the fuss much more than the wedding. On some rare occasions when I am forced to attend a wedding party, my hubby expects me to fill him with all details – and here I am -totally blank . I do not remember who all were there , what they were wearing, what was the menu and who looked good or bad! My only concern on such occasions is to somehow be in corner or in a group where people are generally busy amongst themselves , show my face to the host and find the quickest way to exit. My friends tell me I am worse than unsocial- I am almost ‘anti-social’…hubby adds that I have social conditioning problems but I think I just do not like the big fat Indian weddings . The whole tamasha looks so unnecessary to me. You go through rituals without understanding their meaning, you try to please those who actually do not matter, you dress up in most fancy and expensive dresses which would be hardly wearable hereafter . Why can’t people be themselves while getting married? Why one has to eat unhealthy, dress up uncomfortably and meet hordes of uninteresting people ?
I am painfully aware that I am in miniscule minority with this kind of opinion. Most youngsters getting married blame it on their parents’ wishes but still go for all the usual pomp and show . Funny part is that in cross cultural wedding instead of simplifying , people nowadays go for two sets of wedding ceremonies which compete with each other in grandeur .
In the last wedding I had to attend I made a mental list of various kinds of people associated with Indian Wedding Inc . First is of course the bride and the groom, who for day surrender themselves to the will of others and just do whatever they are asked to do. Very few of them seem to enjoy the wedding ceremony…most are too tired with a plastic smile pasted on their faces that they realize the happenings of the day only afterwards through marriage video. Then there are relatives who for one day become important and can boost their place in the happenings . As in India we follow a very complex hierarchy of relatives, there is always a lot of talk about who gifted what? Who did what ? Who was such a pain….and who was so generous with help. I find all these talks very very sick. Third and usually a sizable group is of friends colleagues and acquaintances of the bride and groom. These people usually come only to hang out in the group and eat. I am most surprised by this group. They are always excited to receive invitations. Girls start discussing about dresses and boys about girls . They feel that it is their solemn duty to attend the wedding and enjoy it. And well they do enjoy it. A sub section of this group is of foodies who are interested only in the feast part of the wedding. They discuss and savour each and every dish and then compare notes with one another. The interesting part is that the two people getting married and in whose name everybody is eating the feast are suppose to fasting on the day (in most parts of India ) .
Apart from these, in each wedding you’ll also find some indispensable advisors. Some old aunt or some seen-it-all uncle who would be supervising the preparations as per ‘norms’ . It is good fun watching these advisors who enjoy every bit of their sudden importance and attention as consultants on of what should be done and how and in what sequence. There are groups of women comparing each other’s jewelery and sarees and men discussing who spent how much in their sons/daughters weddings .
Are you wondering why am I writing all these when attending marriage is an important is considered the most important aspect of Indian social calendar ? Well, it is June and the mercury is touching 45 , I am all set to attend my BIL’s wedding at Kolkata and am damn scared about it. I am scared not about not liking it ( which is almost certain), I am more worried about showing my dislike on my face. Wish I had known how to keep appearances on such occasions . Wish I could play “hamari bahurani” role with perfection on days like this.

PS: (14.06.10) Well, it finally is passed..the wedding I mean. The bride and the groom looked tired but happy and I am relived that I passed the ordeal. (The third picture is from this wedding.)

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