Indians in general are deeply rooted in tradition. Our culture gives us our identity. Most of us (especially those living away from the homeland,) cling to it, even though several aspects especially in these modern times, make no sense at all.
Why do we do so?
Perhaps because it brings us together as a community and provides us comfort in a foreign environment. The same I think applies to immigrants from all across the globe.
Here I will try to expand a little (very little,) on the various aspects of Indian culture, traditions, customs, beliefs, religion, art, architecture, music, dance, cuisine and so on.. Essentially all the things that defines my country to me and others in my community and which I hope would help people of non Indian origin understand India and Indianness a little better.
I encourage everybody to pitch in, and take the opportunity to discuss possible similarities or dissimilarities which exist between our various cultures.
Let me start with a subject which continues to baffle a lot of people in the west: Arranged Marriages.
I have been asked by some of my friends to elaborate on the tradition of arranged marriages and explain why they continue to be so popular, as well as describe the various rituals which take place during a typical wedding.
As a part of Hindu culture, arranged nuptials remain resilient even today despite the invasion of modern thought into every aspect of Indian society. Times are definitely changing but many young Indians still prefer it.
Because your work is done for you. When you have reached a certain age (early twenties in women and mid to late twenties in men on an average,) the hunt for a suitable match begins. After a lot of deliberation, one is chosen for you by your parents with advice from the elders in the family, taking into consideration among various other things; caste and social class. Marrying outside one’s caste is frowned upon and in some rural communities it can even lead to dire consequences.
The horoscopes (very important for suitability,) are matched. The girl and the boy can get to know each other. They are often able to express reservations if any and sometimes also have the veto power. But if all the I’s are dotted and the T’s crossed, who would want to say no?
Why do arranged marriages succeed?
I’m not sure about the answer, but as one of my colleagues suggested, perhaps they succeed because there are zero expectations on both sides, in addition to a willingness to compromise and make it work. There is also considerable social monitoring.
More on the culture of marriage..
In Hinduism, marriage is an essential stage of life. It is the sacred responsibility (Dharma) of each and every individual in the society, unless the individual has accepted a life of renunciation (Sanyasa) due to an intense yearning for liberation.
Marriage is a sacred relationship. It is not just the meeting of two individuals but of two souls. It’s purpose is for the continuation of family and to practice one’s Dharma. There is no concept of divorce. Once married, a couple are wedded for life. Divorce is a modern concept introduced through the Hindu Marriage Act of India.
Wedding traditions vary according to the different regions in India (North, South, East and West.) But in essence the basis of the rituals is mostly the same.
Coming up next: Milan (A wedding Story — Indian Style!)
I hope you are enjoying it so far.