Friday, July 6, 2012

Marriage aaj kal

Marriage they say is a contract. In India, it is extended to an agreement between two families. It may be born out of love or arranged by parents. Love marriages are commonplace today. Two individuals equate their compatibility over days, months, maybe years and decide to take the plunge. In some cases, the parents think it’s high time their kids settled in Holy Matrimony. What does marriage mean to 20 something’s today?

There are a majority of youngsters who get drawn towards arranged alliances. It could be a bad relationship in the past that prevents them from falling in love again. Or they probably fear displeasing their parents. Or maybe they think they are incapable of finding the right match on their own. Some are fascinated by the idea of arranged marriages. “There is so much to explore about the other person. Marrying someone you know for years may get drab after 30. Because you two have nothing new to discover, talk about, keep the spice alive”, muses my 21 year old friend. Another friend is all slated to attend his brother’s wedding. Well, his brother is least interested in getting married. He is too busy with work. So it’s his family who is shortlisting the girls with help from their relatives and matrimony sites. All that he has to do is see the picture, probably meet some candidates and make a choice. A girl who recently stepped out of a hurtful relationship claims, “I am strictly anti-love and anti-love marriages. Rather, my parents choose a guy for me. I trust their decisions enough. And there is also support from both the families. In today’s fast life, it’s very important for a girl to have support from her in-laws. If things go wrong I know I have someone to fall back on.”  

Cultural differences do end up ruining a lot of relationships. Imagine a non-vegetarian marrying a vegetarian. Or different religions with different beliefs. Such marriages work too, but they involve a lot of compromises from both the sides. Fewer families support such alliances. They have greater chances of breaking apart. And if the compromise is one sided, it becomes a bondage. But they say, where there is love, nothing’s impossible. After all, religion and creed are manmade concepts.

For a desperate person it may mean a green signal to get into bed with the opposite sex. Yes, there are guys who get married because it gives them the license to sleep with a girl (especially if the girl is very attractive and strictly against pre-marital sex). Don’t believe me? Read the papers. Some girls run away from home to please the one they love. Even at 21, I have a lot of my school and college friends who are already married. It is not wrong to take the step early. But taking such an important decision of your life at a tender age with no advice from elders can horribly mess things up. These very couples get divorced within a year or two. 
And for those who wish to go the contemporary love marriage way, marriage is just a formality. They are already in love, they already share their joys and sorrows and a lot more. Marriage just adds the legal flavor and parental consent to it all.

Marriages now happen online. We live in a world of constant photos showing your affection over someone, or a Facebook update that publishes your current flame and your relationship status. It’s such a virtual bonding. You come together, you break up, and the world knows in a few seconds. You add photos that the world ‘likes’ or rather ‘envies’. You ‘notify’ the places where you had your meals, you make your personal memories public. You block your family from seeing your profile. And when you break up, you ‘un-tag’ those photos that you were once proud of. You post updates of your life to seek a virtual shoulder to cry on. You de-friend the person, probably even block him/her. And after you have healed, you start adding your family members; you have nothing left to hide on that profile. And soon the cycle repeats as you meet someone new in that virtual space.

When you see a couple today it is so easy to figure out whether they are newly married or married over years. Read their faces, decipher their body language. You’ll know it all. At the same time observe your grandparents who probably had an arranged marriage. See the bonding, the respect they have for each other. It’s not the years that make this bond mature, but a sense of understanding of the term ‘marriage’. Who says you need a great love story to find the ‘One’? They probably found each other accidentally through their parents. Take out time and hear their stories and you’ll discover the true essence of a relationship.

Marriage is a covenant; not just between two individuals but between two individuals and their ‘Creator’. Any damage to this covenant caused by any of the parties faces His wrath. Hindus and Parsis make ‘fire’ (an element of nature, a creation of God) a Witness to the union.  For a Catholic, the Church and the priest are representatives of God. For a Muslim, the Kazi speaks on His behalf.  Atheists and scientists visit courts to get married, but they too require a witness. Divorce petitions are debated over in a court where a third party decides the fate of the union. Thus, it’s not just a bride, a bridegroom and some love involved. It’s a complex web of emotions and relations. Do not take the plunge unless you are sure, because you won’t be the lone sufferer. 

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