Why marriage as an institution is still intact in India
India, along with China, is now touted as the fastest growing economy in the world, and is recognized as such by even the mighty United States of America.
However, what many in the West do not understand is that the economy of India, even today, also has a rich social tradition, which is also connected with a religious tradition.
Central to this tradition, is the institution of marriage. Though this institution is under tremendous stress and strain, there is absolutely no doubt that this institution is still very strong in India.
The answer is a very complex one, but one that is worth understanding.
Historically, the Indian male has been glorified. In virtually every Indian State of India, women are always taught to "adjust" to different moods of men, at whatever cost, and still live with them throughout their lives, after they are married.
The Indian male can even get away with bigamy, that is very common among families in South Indian States such as Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh. However, the women cannot even dream of having ordinary relationships with any male, even if he from the family of her husband.
Furthermore, joint families -- where sons and daughters, along with their wives and husbands live together, are still not uncommon in rural India. This is a lovely melting point of different cultures within one big family, and each woman who comes into the household brings with her, some aspect of the culture that she has been taught, back home. There is tolerance for ambiguity,tolerance for adversity, tolerance of even poverty or any natural calamity. In fact, after every flood or earthquake, it is not uncommon for the husband or the wife to search for their life partners and get re-united after months or years, even if they are lost in the chaos.
Marraiges are always big affairs. There is the "thali" or sacred thread that is tied around the neck of the woman by the husband, and this is a very religious symbol. It means that the man has accepted the woman as his life partner and will go to any length to take care of her needs and wants, and emotions and feelings, for a lifetime. Since such marriages are always performed in the presence of a huge number of guests, sometimes running into several thousands, the social sanctity of marriage is very well maintained in India.
There are differences of opinion, and even physical fights between the husbands and wives. There are property disputes, there are disputes about upbringing of children and care of the elders. However, marriage is an institution that still survives, thanks to strong roots in Indian culture.
Marriage is a multi-billion business in India. Every Indian would spend atleast 1,00,000 US dollars at current prices, in middle-class families. The poor also imitate the rich and the middle classes and no effort is spared to make marriages very memorable. The photographers and the video experts are very much present in every wedding. The bride would have atleast ten kilograms of gold or sometimes even more, as presents. This gold is seen as a social security.
In fact, hundreds of thousands of houses get constructed in India, and this gold acts as a bridge loan for such purposes. Every bit of this gold is pledged with the banks, and the families get what are called "gold loans". This helps the family to repay such loans over a period of some years.
Apart from the gold, the feeding of guests for breakfast, lunch and dinner are very elaborate affairs. Every Indian State has its own cuisine, and these are mostly vegetarian. In South Indian marriages, there is sometimes a mix of the North and South Indian cuisines, more so, as the bride or bridegroom has colleagues who hail from the North of India.
The economic dimension has several facets. These days, the beauty parlours have taken over, even in the semi-urban areas. Specialists from these outfits dress up the bride or bridegroom or both, and everything is special. Every small care is taken. For example, the bride is expected to wear a good variety of glass bangles, and these are either specially made, or purchased wtih a lot of fanfare. These bangles are very special for every Indian woman.
This is exactly how every small detail has to be attended to. As with many other arrangements, outsourcing of such arrangements, during weddings, is pretty common. There are professional caterers who not only supply the elaborate menu of food, but also take care of every minute detail. All this comes with a price, but literally no one bothers about the cost.
For example, in the case of the Non-resident Indians, who live and work in the US or UK, the bride or the bridegroom, chips in with the money in US dollars, which then gets converted into Indian currency. Since costs are still cheaper in India, weddings that cost 3,00,000 US dollars,(one Us dollar is approximately 48 Indian rupees), are still very common in India.
Indians, as a nation of one hundred million people, are basically very peace-loving. The epics like Ramayana and Mahabharatha have taught Indians how to live, with all values intact. In fact, even if corruption is still very common, the middle-classes now have everything sorted out. For instance, the spread of internet has made it possible to do most transactions, online. This has eliminated corruption that used to exist in various forms, like for instance, for booking railway tickets.
Marriage as an institution will survive for hundreds of years, thanks to the social sanctity attached to it. In the urban areas, inter-caste and even inter-State marriages are very common. This is expected to increase over the years, and make marriages more interesting. Love marriages are also increasing day after day. But marriage as an institution, is still what it has always been.
The culture of India, is very unique. In the years to come, India will become a curious melting point of the best of scientific advancements and modern technology, and ancient culture. Marriage will survive all these developments, and march from strenght to strength.
Anyone and everyone can take a bet on this. It will happen.
Tags: Marriage , Culture , Bride , Bridegroom , India
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