Ohh God! It’s a girl! This is the most common reaction of the family when a girl child is born. (Yes, I know it is 21st century!) In some parts of India, it is deemed even necessary to get rid (read “kill/throw away”) of the infant born just because she is a girl. In other parts, while she is allowed to live and breathe, the whole drama begins from a young age and she is considered “foreign – or one who does not belong to her own parents”.
Starting from parents saving for her marriage as soon as she is born to teaching her household chores from childhood to spending more time in kitchen so she is “trained” for her future life. She is taught boundaries, restrictions, compromises, sacrifices – everything that is deemed “perfect” for her future life (read marriage). In modern society, though she is allowed to gain education, it is only to get a suitable groom. The girls are raised such that their objective in life should be marriage while the guys on the other hand, have no such compulsion.
Search for a suitable groom begins at as young as 16 years of age in certain rural areas. In cities, though the girls are allowed to graduate and even post-graduate maybe – more education is often considered a bane for marriage. Often it is said – “She is high headed because of her education”
I am not going to talk about issues in rural India. Since I am from a city and can relate to more such women/girls, I’ll stick to the drama in cities with respect to marriage.
1. Suitable age: The ideal age for marriage for a modern Indian girl is between 22-28 years. Anywhere above that and the girl is too old for marriage. If over 30, God save her and her parents from the sarcastic comments of close friends and family, even acquaintances!. “She is so old, why is she not getting married!” “Are your parents dependent on you that you are not married?” “Nothing is going to happen if you keep focusing on work. You should start thinking about getting married else there will be no boys left for you!” “A woman your age has dearth of men!” “As you grow older, there will be fewer suitors!” “Your daughter is out of your hands. You should have gotten her married when she was young.” The list of such comments is really long. No one really bothers to address the actual issue instead just give advice. No one asks if she is ready for marriage. It is a commitment. Nope, that doesn’t matter. As a girl, your primary duty is to get married, so that your parents are free of the “big responsibility” that you are and should go and start your own family whether you are ready or not.
2. The hunt begins: An individual is reduced to a one page or even worse – a one line advertisement in a newspaper where her caste/age/height/colour/diet preferences/earnings/no. of siblings are the criteria on which her worth is decided. Basically she is shown as someone desperate to get married. Even on matrimonial websites, her profile would show only the most idealistic things about her – homely, well-cultured, vegetarian (if you are from a certain caste), non drinker (coz, girls don’t drink!), non smoker (coz….it’s injurious to health!), favourite hobby – cooking (really!), no guy friends (she’s a one man woman!) basically a total obedient cow! All relatives/family friends start looking for a suitable (rich) groom. Of course, they decide the best things for her!
3. The suitable boy: If you’ve ever read a matrimonial ad from the boy’s side, you would know it invariably reads – wanted a fair/slim and sometimes tall girl! Yes, we all have German and Russian genes! And Indian men are all incredibly blessed with good looks of Hritik Roshan and everyone who is tall is also as successful as Mr. Amitabh Bachchan (pun totally intended!). Ohh wait, isn’t Hritik Roshan single again and Mr. Bachchan’s wife extremely short! But well, they are celebrities! Hello, you aren’t so stop acting like one dude! So, they have only 9657258169389839 conditions to select the girl. Did I mention she should be earning as well! Coz it’s a tough world, but is this suitable boy ready to share the household chores including change of diapers in future – no one asks. The girl’s parents are more than happy that they found someone who decided to marry their daughter just after 1 meeting even if this person is not capable of holding a meaningful conversation for 30 mins.
4. The big fat Indian Wedding: In cities like Delhi, the budget for a wedding can be anywhere between 1 lac to a few crores. While I love attending weddings (coz…food!), I fail to understand the drama associated. Why is the invite sent out to 500-1000 people (even more sometimes). It is as if 2 people cannot get married without the involvement of these many people 90% of whom they don’t even know and would possibly never meet in future. This is one of the reasons the girl’s parents get worried – the expense involved based on family status. Ohh, and this also involves dowry to a certain extent. Yes, I know it’s against the law but it exists like everything else. It’s not called dowry though, it’s the gifts that girl’s parents give to her which are rarely used by her. An expensive car for the son-in-law, loads of gold/diamond and even cash as per status and in some cases, they go bankrupt fulfilling the demands. But getting their daughter married is the higher purpose of their lives!
These are a few things I could think of from a girl’s perspective with regards to marriage and the drama associated with same. I am not saying guys don’t have issues but I am yet to see a guy being rejected on the basis of his age, eating, drinking habits (last I heard Milind Soman at 52 married a 26 year old girl!) or that boy’s parents gave dowry. That’s the bitter truth!
It is time to change this thinking as a society and start raising girls as individuals who would grow up and contribute to society (women like Kiran Bedi and Kiran Mazumdar Shaw) , will marry when they are ready and free to choose their life partner. At the same time, boys should be taught to help around the house and even in the kitchen (why not, some of the best chefs are men!).
Do let me know if you could relate to this article and share your comments.
Stay fit. Stay gentle. Live consciously