In our part of the world, weddings are the most celebrated occasions, not only in the lives of the prospective bride and groom, but also the immediate family, the not-so-immediate family and the circle of friends.
The excitement starts when the boy gives a go-ahead to his parents to find a suitable girl for him. From then on mothers and sisters begin a frantic search, rejecting or approving girls over a tea-trolley. She is examined from head to toe, irrelevant / embarrassing questions are thrown at her and she can be rejected at the slightest pretext. If she passes the test, a formal proposal is sent to her parents. This in turn starts another frenzied activity. Heads are joined to make a decision and the boy’s looks, height, income, whether he owns a house or not etc are taken into consideration. As soon as the proposal is accepted and the time for the grand occasion is decided, the wedding fever sets in.
Selection of the bridal outfit, the matching jewellery to be ordered, sandals and handbag to go with the shaadi ka jora, are all matters of utmost importance. The best beauty studio is booked for the bridal make-over and the best possible venue is selected for the functions. Every minute detail has to be chalked out — from invitation cards, the bride and groom’s entry in the wedding hall, the decoration of the stage, the flowers, lightning, cake, the menu, token gifts for the guests, the list seems to be endless.
There are non-stop shopping sprees for clothes, shoes, furniture and crockery for the dowry and gifts for the bridegroom and the in-laws. These frenzied shopping trips leaves the bride and her family exhausted as the Big Day approaches.
The groom’s house is also buzzing with pre- wedding arrangements. Along with the dresses, jewellery and accessories for the bride the house needs to be renovated, re-painted and sometimes re-furnished. The couple’s room is given extra attention. The bride usually brings in new furniture but the carpet and curtains have to be changed. Bathrooms are re-designed to complement the new look of the room. Everything should be picture perfect when the bride arrives.
The fantasy which begins with the shopping, the pre-wedding merriments, friends’ gatherings, dholkis, mayoon and mehndi reaches its peak at the grand wedding and valima receptions.
But in all these feverish activities, the groom’s parents who were so choosy about the prospective wife of their son and the bride’s parents who were so particular to find out every detail about the person who had proposed for their daughter’s hand, completely forget to teach their offspring what marriage is really about.
Parents, who spend so much time, energy and, of course, money on their children’s weddings, don’t deem it important to guide them about the responsibilities which come with a married life and the facts regarding the rights and duties concerning their future spouse. Things which should be the foremost on the list of wedding preparations are totally ignored or given a back-seat. So, most couples enter into matrimony only thinking about their wedding and not marriage, totally confused about the demands of this new stage of life.
Both husband and wife have a different set of problems. The girl ties the nuptial knot thinking that life after marriage is one long honeymoon, where you live in grand houses, shop till you drop, eat out in expensive eateries on a regular basis and your spouse does nothing except pampering you, and even at home you are dressed in designer clothes and wear full makeup and expensive jewellery.
Once the post-wedding partying and enjoyments are over and the bride is expected to slip into the role of a wife and home-maker, reality starts to set in. Most girls fail to realise that they should leave behind the fantasy which was only temporary. The groom has lots of more important things at hand, other than complying with her moods and whims. She cannot expect him to leave a ‘I love you’ note when he is getting late to office, neither to bring her roses every day, and surely not on the days when he has had an extra tiring schedule or problems with his boss.
The groom has his own set of disappointments. As the bride slips into the role of a home-maker, she may also want to go back to her job. When he comes home, she may also be tired after a hard day’s work, so he cannot expect her to be dressed up as a doll, starry-eyed and swooning over him at the slightest pretext. And if she has been cooking or cleaning or dusting, she will not emit the fragrance of roses.
The bubble of fantasy may have all the colours of a rainbow, but bubbles are bound to burst. Instead of feeling disappointed or disillusioned, the couple could have coped better if their parents had guided them correctly. The early months of a marriage are usually the make or break ones. For dreamers, this journey can be a survival in an unhappy marriage and for the more extreme ones just begin and end with a big jolt. More sensible couples, after the initial disappointment, adapt quickly to the demands of a married life. But the truth is that this journey from fantasy to reality can change lives, for better or for worse.
Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, September 11th, 2016