Marriage is an ancient institution, which binds two people (and their families) into a commitment for life. In India however, a wedding is often turned into a shallow thing meant to impress people with a show of wealth. This, combined with the arranged nature of marriages, often makes it nothing more than a duty to be fulfilled.
However, some weddings have broken this tradition of the ‘Big Fat Indian Wedding’ and duty status, and given marriage new, deep meaning.
The Money Well Spent
Breaking the tradition of spending lakhs on a wedding ceremony, Abhay Deware and Priti Kumbhare instead chose to give to the society. The couple donated Rs 20,000 each to 10 farmers’ families where their sole bread earners committed suicide due to mounting debts and successive crop failures, provided books of competitive examinations worth Rs 52,000 to five libraries in Amravati, kept their menu for the marriage very simple and had inspirational and informative speeches made by notable personalities and activists.
This noble and worthwhile gesture not only highlights the couple’s generosity, but also throws light on how much money is wasted to ensure a ‘proper’ wedding ceremony. This often becomes a burden on the family of the bride, and they have no choice but to spend a large amount or face abuse, cancellation of the wedding, or social slander. Hopefully this couple’s gesture will encourage others to break this useless tradition, and spend money on better causes.
The ‘Illegal Marriage’
In contrast to the story above, a warden for the state government of Punjab, Manjit Kaur, married with great pomp and celebrations. But what makes this marriage unique is that it was to another woman. Manjit ‘married’ her partner according to traditional Hindu rituals, even as the illegality of homosexual marriages and relations barred her from registering the marriage officially. This was clearly not an issue for Manjit, who had the support of both her colleagues and family in her commitment.
The story soon went viral on social media, and many praised her step. In this day and age, a law established in colonial times should not be a bar to who people love and marry. Even though Manjit felt that the interest in her story was an invasion of privacy, it provided support to many members of the LGBTQ community, who feel that the normalisation of same-sex marriages can help remove the stigma and marginalisation associated with the community.
The One That Crossed Religious Lines
Despite the increasing ‘westernisation’ of India, many marriages continued to be arranged, and almost all these marriages follow religious and caste lines. Even today, matrimonial ads look for ‘Brahman’ or ‘Baniya’ bride or groom. But some couples not only manage to cross these caste lines, but those of religion too. This was true for Mumbai residents Alita and Karan, who held both Hindu and Christian ceremonies to celebrate their union. The Catholic Alita and Guajarati Karan decided to have the best of both worlds, and their friends and family helped make both ceremonies a success.
It is true that caste, race, and religion do not matter as much in marriages as they did before, but they continue to play an important role, especially in arranged marriages. Inter-caste and inter-religion marriages are still quite uncommon in India. This is why weddings such as these should be celebrated, which give hope that the only requirement for marriage be mutual love and respect.
And The One That Crossed Borders
If marriage within India is difficult, imagine falling in love with a foreigner. Better yet, A Pakistani. Huda, a Pakistani Muslim and Maneet, an Indian Jain, dated for four years before deciding to take the plunge. But the road was not easy. Their families could not accept the different religions they belonged to, and Huda was asked to leave home or Maneet. He chose her. They decided that they would not marry till they had the blessings of their families, and finally, they conceded. The beautiful beach wedding was the stunning conclusion to a love affair that crossed prejudice, religion and the border.
It is sad that even today many couples are forced into marriages they don’t want, while others are forced apart for the pettiest of reasons. But as Huda and Maneet’s marriage shows, love, determination and perseverance can help change opinions and pave the path for a happy marriage.
First Comes The Proposal, Then Comes Love
Dhana and Tilak, both from Chennai, had no time for love or marriage. Dedicated to various social causes, they had their calling in service to the underprivileged. But fate had different plans. Hoping to adopt baby Theresa, Dhana proposed to her then friend Tilak. But time was not on their side, and the baby was adopted by another couple. However, love soon blossomed, and in a style true to them, the couple turned their wedding reception into a fundraiser for underprivileged children, accepting only donations and no gifts. Children from eight homes in Chennai were invited to the reception, celebrating like all other wedding guests. The couple paid for the ceremony themselves.
Both Dhana and Tilak are the embodiment of noble souls who found love with each other, and turned their joyous union into something that benefitted society. They continue their social work, and while they may not be rich and powerful, they have something better- richness of heart, and the power to change lives.
The stories above are not meant to contradict arranged marriages or lavish weddings. If both individuals consent to it, they should be allowed to marry, and of course, it is their own money to spend. But these marriages above are different, and some of them may be controversial or unacceptable to some. It is high time that the way marriages and weddings are viewed change in the India society, and allow all types of people to come together without any social stigma.