Keeri who loved humans

Keeri who loved humans
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Wednesday, 10 June 2015

This Indian love-and-marriage thing

This love and marriage thing in India. Rather overwhelming. And how it has changed and grown like Topsy. Today I was looking at a picture of a happy couple (they chose each other, thank God) cutting their wedding cake. It's all there: the knife held together, face up for the photo, beaming parents conducting the event. When did the cake enter into a wedding in Kerala? Cakes were strictly for evening tea on the odd occasion when revered guests turned up - about twice a year.

   I HAD to do a flash back to the occasion when I was 'cabin'd, cribbed, confined' and handed over. There was a big rice sadhya (feast), with two-thousand guests - that was absolutely every one my father knew at work or at home, all the people down our street and then some other streets. They ate on banana leaves laid out in lines along with thin thadukku (grass mats) in the panthal (covered area) outside our house. The women ate inside, also on the floor, on those ubiquitous banana leaves. The whole thing was over in one evening. The ceremony itself took ten minutes.

   Missing: three-tier cakes, fancy receptions with alcohol flowing (though there was a little furtive and committed drinking at the rear of the house). Missing also the three-day ceremony, which starts with the henna ceremony for the bride and girls, when their hands are decorated with intricate patterns, then the pre-wedding ceremony of close friends dropping in to a small celebration, then the wedding itself. By which time there must be a sense of surfeit and emotional exhaustion. I hear in some cases the wedding is a five-day ceremony. I am inclined to agree with the notion that there should be many days of heart-searching before tying the knot, but in less public ways.

   It is now de-rigeur to hold hands with your partner in public places, though kissing in public is for the future. And old couples, long married are also seen with their arms round each other in photographs. How sweet! In my time, a public display of affection was considered embarrassing to all, especially those watching. Facebook has much to answer for - we shall soon have all of them kissing in Facebook photos, that is after running round a few trees, Bollywood style.

   I can hear my family saying, 'sour grapes.' I must be jealous. Perhaps. the only thing in all this that pleases me is the fact that more Indian men and women choose their own partners now-a-days and the caste system is taking a back-seat. Now, if this behaviour of choosing one's own partner extends to India's villages, that will be something to celebrate.

   I think it is time for me to leave the stage to the young, bubbling ones and just enjoy their happiness and self-assurance. Must stop comparing. Except so much money is wasted on the weddings these days - if only that money could be spent on health-care, education or care of the disabled...

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