Tying the knot
Once upon a time weddings in India were held in the summer when the days were hot and the schools were closed and most people took leave to keep their children amused. This was the the pre-TV era when the only entertainment we had was home entertainment and the only holidays we had were family holidays in family homes.
So if we were still in that era, by now we should be in peak wedding season but thanks to the large scale migration of Indians overseas, the wedding season has slowly shifted to the latter half of the year, when the temperatures in India are more conducive to the Snow Birds coming back for a home visit , the vegetables fresher and you can actually think of wearing your heaviest silk brocades.
But apart from the seasonal shift, there has also been an attitudinal shift in the approach to the wedding. Ours was perhaps the last generation where we were just showed up with heads and eyes down either out of bashfulness or embarrassment and did exactly what we were told even if the instructions were in a language we didn’t understand the language of the ceremony was often the language of the prayers (a tongue not in everyday use!)This made matters very easy for all concerned. Invitations were often made out in the names of elders in the family with compliments of various relatives printed below. The ceremonies were standard with rituals followed by our ancestors for generations with a dress code and menus also pre-determined. This was a completely hassle free occasion was concerned with choices being determined largely by the budget kept aside for this important rite of passage.
Even in an inter-religious, inter-caste or inter-racial or inter-anything marriage there was some semblance of tradition : once the kind of ceremony was decided upon ( either the bride’s or groom’s tradition or a combination of both), everything else was decided as per custom. For instance, if the couple wanted to stick to a Christian wedding, a Christian wedding it was and if they wanted a mix of ceremonies, there would be a mix but in a compartmentalised way i.e. a Christian+Hindu union wouldn’t have a Hindu ceremony with a bride in a wedding dress!
All this changed somewhere down the line with brides and grooms of all cultures. Perhaps it was an overdose of seeing weddings of every culture on screens of every size ( from their tiny phones to big theatres) that they decided to take things into their own hands. Gone are the days when parents decided who the spouses should be. Gone too are the days when spouses were shown to the parents for their consent. Today the tables have truly turned when children expect their parents to show up for the wedding as pure guests and the focus on the ceremony changing from religious sanction to the pursuit of pleasure.
And in this pursuit of pleasure a lot of importance is given to what goes where and how leading to a lot of stress for the mothers/fathers/wedding planners involved with the wedding. I don’t know much about the grooms because I presume they are willing to go with the flow but it is often the brides who metamorphose into unrecognisable beings : everything becomes an issue – the day, the date, the invitation, the guest list, the ceremonies, the rituals, the clothes, the food , the honeymoon etc etc etc so that by the time the wedding draws near the mother/father/wedding organiser is only too ready to shed tears when the bride and groom say “I do”.
Why is it that wedding preparations bring out the worst in a potential bride? Is it because the age has increased and brides expect a say in their own weddings because they are used to taking decisions? Or is this a psychological breaking away from the umbilical cord?
What should be a happy time of planning a trousseau, planning a menus, sharing the last moments of a girlhood soon to be lost to responsibility and allegiance to a new family, often turn out to be weeks of torture for the bride and her mother with every decision becoming a war zone of ideas and expectations. Somehow, mothers and daughters unwittingly become adversaries and monsters turning a long awaited rite of passage into a prickly and unpleasant affair.