Garlands of flowers festoon the hallways, loud music blares out of the speakers, the beats of the drums emanate from the background as the bride and the groom of our Indian weddings, dressed in their finest, come together to celebrate their joyous union. A union that is not defined by the love between the bride and the groom but is mostly about the bond between two families who have ‘the veto power’ in this case. For centuries, Indian marriages have been more about the money, the show-off and the grandeur of the ceremony rather than the bond between the bride and the groom. Most of the marriages happen with the consent of the elders while the people who are getting married are promptly left out of this decision. But on the flip side, do you know the best part about this pomp and show? You can drop in and have a scrumptious meal for free!
In tune with the concept of the Vedas, the verses of Manusmriti has been the basis of the orthodoxy and the puranas. We Indians consider Hindu marriage as a bond that joins two individuals for life, so that they can pursue Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha together. It is a union of two individuals as husband and wife, and is recognized by law. Now the law? That old thing which has become our burdensome legacy? Well, you wouldn’t be surprised to know that even today we carry the legacy of an obsolete system that is completely redundant in the present scenario. With the coming up of new changes in the economy, even the people of the present generation have evolved. We no longer conform ourselves to the staunch belief in arranged marriages that were once considered to be the best shot at a happy and blissful married life.
The youth of today strives for a personal space where they can take their own decisions concerning their lives. The elders have now ruefully receded into the background, unhappy with the new changes that have affected the institution of marriage. The practice of marriage and having sexual relations with only one person, the absence of widow remarriage, the lack of laws for easy divorce and chastity were seen as the most important ideals. But now, we see that a sea of changes has enveloped the institution of Hindu marriage, due to various ‘modern changes’ such as urbanization, industrialization, secularization, impact of Western culture and marriage legislations. In this new and seemingly unorthodox era, changes are taking place in the Hindu ideology, notion, forms and values of marriage.
Our grandparents might have told us stories of how their parents orchestrated the whole set up of the former’s marriage, brought in the families together to agree on this arrangement and how the bride and the groom never even met each other before the day of marriage. Today, the youngsters choose their own life partners, arrange their own marriages with the help of classy wedding planners and plan their family accordingly. The days of carefully reading the astrological records to determine one’s married life, are over. We have evolved into an era where we operate under the notion of self-decisive life planning. Not only this, but people nowadays have decided to discard the institution of marriage altogether. It’s more about finding the right person for yourself rather than falling in step with what others decide for you.
Since time immemorial, marriage has been given a lot of importance in the Indian culture and society. But as of the 21st century, to marry or not to marry has actually become an option. A person can now choose to remain unmarried forever, all the while facing the scorn of the society of course! In every case, whenever we decide to leave the old concepts behind, we are attacked by our society which does not accept our stand. Come what may, we need to get married, as if it’s the last thing we have do! Why is that? Well, isn’t that obvious? Its sacred and pure, which is everything that one should aim for. So, we should just go with the flow and surrender our lives to a family and fake our smiles as they say, “hey, we hope you like us!”
Marriage is not a social media post which you can like, comment and pass on to other generations. If we truly believe in the purity of this institution, we must believe in the idea of love and partnership too. How can we marry someone without even knowing what the person is like? Or, if they deserve us or not? It is a question on the ideals of the society itself! While the society deems marriage as the best shot at a stable relationship, the new generation has devised better ways. We now have live-in relationships which are just like marriage, but without the nuptials. We also have people who do not marry at all and go ahead in their self-same ways. On the other hand, there are love marriages, which are more often than not, unacceptable by the families. Hence, people are carving a separate niche for themselves in this new world, where they would rather live without commitments.
Previously, the concept of marriage was to propagate the race. But now, if people want to marry, it is for the companionship and love rather than a forced arrangement with a stranger, as they understand that no one can remain alone forever. What the society fails to understand is that when people are happy with each other, then they should find the best way to stay happy, married or unmarried. The evolution of the institution of marriage from sanctified sex gratification, paternity, kinship, economic and social cooperation, to an era of rising status and legal rights of each spouse as individual human beings, is a march from instinctive union to conscious personal decision.
What’s more? Choosing a life partner has never been this easy with the coming of age technology and social media applications through the means of which, the ritual of marriage has additionally gone high-tech and convenient. The apps and websites give us a range of choices and gives us a list of the best matches. While our parents might be apprehensive of such kinds of modern changes, we deem it as an evolutionary process. The young people of this age have not forgotten their values but their approach towards the application of these values has changed. We have not deviated from our norms but we have improved the norms to accommodate everyone. Because in the end, happiness between the two parties involved in this union matters the most, and as the matrimonial websites claim, it’s all about “Your vision, your event, your way”, because “in your dreams, every detail matters!”