From simplicity to attitude-An overview of marriage culture in India

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Gone are the days in Orissa, when a humble person would knock on our doors to inquire about the marriage of a suitable boy in the household. Well, in the seventies, the relatives of the girl would come to propose the marriage with an eligible bachelor in the family. Most of the people still have in their minds the nostalgia of the marriages at that time, when the household used to see a big get-together under one roof. In the well-to-do middle class families, when a marriage was settled, it would tickle the fancy of everyone as an occasion of eating a lot of sweets, new clothes, fake tears and gifts. As the popular refrain from an invitation card of marriage at that time told us ‘tying of knots’; meaning the occasion served as a melting pot for the birth of  fresh relationships.

 The eighties furnished an altogether different experience with the arrival of television. The commercial ads featuring sleek products along with sexy lasses captured the imagination of every ‘suitable boy’. The irony was not only the bachelors started craving for a woman with a stylish appearance, but the tempting things like television, washing machine, refrigerators, trendy expensive furniture were demanded in dowry. Unlike the seventies, when the expenses in the marriage were confined to not more than fifty thousand rupees mainly used for buying gold and clothes, the cost for this occasion proved to be a major headache for the parents of the girl. Not only it burnt a hole in the pockets of people, but a girl with not so good color of skin and from poor parentage was dropped like a hot potato. This trend gave birth to a practice of bride burning, dowry torture and other macabre things.

 Thus the marriage of conveniences was born, foregoing the age old concept of uniting two souls in a bond of simplicity.

In the nineties India had the first surge of IT education and brought in its wake the mushroom growth of Engineering schools and colleges. This time a new attitude was observed in the people. Parents opted to send their daughters more and more to convent schools and then for Engineering and Management education. With the decrease of suitable boys in our society and increase of female toppers in various competitive examinations, again the search criteria become complex and tougher.

The newspaper classified ads were more specific.

 “Fair, good looking, smart, engineer girl for the Engineer, MBA boy aged 32 working in USA……..”

 Then there arrived a new genre of alliance which we called “the marriage of attitudes”.

 The girls had shed their coyness and were seen riding two wheelers. The faces which were kept hidden behind the blinds of drawing rooms, leapt out of them with dash and vigor to challenge the forever dominating male chauvinism. Feminism was seen riding the wave of independence .A time had emerged when women were found to be very inquisitive about the salary and family status of their would-be husbands.

 Such temperament of female unorthodoxy is still in full swing. Fair sex now is more aware of their rights and privilege in the society, least obedient towards caste, creed and other customs of the society.

 But has dowry been abolished in marriage with more liberal patterns of alliance?

Perhaps not! However it may materialize, a socially sanctified marriage, duly approved by the parents of the boy and girl, can not become a dowry less marriage. Here the mention might be made about the types of marriage, known as ‘love and arranged marriages’. The term ‘dowry’ has got rid of demand. But again the self-actualization part of behavioral theory is playing a more active role. Parents have to give in for more dowries either for their own status or for the fact that as they are the parents of a highly placed female techno-professional.

 What place love has taken in such techno-friendly society?

 Females are seen very eagerly pursuing a career by staying at least thousand miles away from their husbands. A married woman works in Hyderabad in a corporate office and her husband stays at Bhubaneswar in Orissa of India. They are married for two years. The couple has met each other only thrice in this period and literally love plays a non-descriptive role in such conjugal relationship.

 From ‘simplicity to attitude’ is a complex transformation of woman. But the root cause of women’s emancipation from the clutches of evils of the society is yet to be redressed.

 Srikanta Mohanty, MBA (Symbiosis),

H.I.G.-1/60, B.D.A. Colony,

Bhubaneswar-751002

India.

Email:srikant_mh@rediffmail.com

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