Imported marriage customs

By Sunit Giri [published in The Kathmandu Post on December 24, 2000]

Seven circles round a sacred fire, a few promises for ever lasting bondage, exchange of rings and garlands, a pinch of sindur on the brides forehead, a mangalsutra around her neck and a few mantras recited by pundits. It all seems so easy and hassle- free. But now, a marriage ceremony in our culture has taken a different form.

Today, a marriage ceremony is associated with status. You cannot just go into a temple, make the pundit chant a few mantras and exchange garlands. Today, you must have an organized function. A function that will give you status symbol and recognition and, most importantly, compel you to waste your hard -earned money. The entire process can be
divided into three theories of modern marriage.

The first theory is the theory of Engagement. Today going for an engagement is like going for a Janti (marriage procession. The bride’s family has to provide the groom’s guests with a suitable place and a reasonable meal, and expensive jewellery and clothes for the bridegroom. The function has to be of a very high standard no even’ if the brides father has to beg, borrow or steal. This is not all. Wait till the real Janti comes.

The second theory is the theory of Janti. Gone are the days when Janti used to come in small numbers.

Today, they come in extra large crowd wearing flashy suits and salwars. The larger the number of vehicles, the better the status of the bridegroom’s family. The music band also play a great role, for they are the ones who enter the house first. The more money you spend, the better Band Party you get, From the locals to armymen and to the police, you name it, pay for it, and you will get it. Let us not forget the Sagun (auspicious food). The Sagun has to be lavish, or better be prepared to hear some nasty comments. This is also one of the occasions where you can display your precious stones and glittering metals. The use of best salons and beauty parlours is a must. Latest designer wears adds to your prestige. Well, if you do not compromise with these rules, then you may turn out to be a comedian. Do not forget, every single second you are being screened and filmed with the latest still and motion cameras. And don’t forget the eye to eye contact with your opposite sex. This is, in fact, a very important occasion for all those charming bachelors around. And who knows, you may have your luck awaiting you.

Daijo Pewa (dowry) also plays an important role. Bed, sofa, colour television, freeze and washing machines are very simple offerings. Today, you have to give much more or the bride’s future will be in peril.

The third and final theory is the theory of Reception- the most crucial of all. You will be worried, if your house is small, or if you do not have a parking space, not to talk of food. Anxiety and nervousness come in your way, not once but many times. But don’t worry. This is an age of professional party houses, up to date and complete caterers, lavish houses, cars, beds and decorators ( don’t know what not). Alcoholic drinks and different varieties of meat and fish are a must these days. Believe it or not ice-creams in winter, too, has become compulsory. Now days, you can even have an exclusive stall for nuts and cigars of high quality.

Look at what the influence of Hindi movies have done to us.

Where are we heading towards? Is there a limit to all this nonsense? Where are social norms? What will happen to all those people who cannot afford pomp and show? Don’t their children have the right to get married? The questions are too many and the answers too few. But shall we do something, or go on embracing this imported and outlandish practice? Yes, it is up to us..


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