Saturday 19 February 2011

Arranged Marriage Cacophonies

Ever felt like being mauled in the middle of a fish market? Almost every man or woman who is married would know! For the others- read on. Arranged weddings in India are splendid months- long affairs, sometimes it can be years before the bells finally ring. The process is so cumbersome, with umpteen number of characters and their gimmicks, somersaults, emotional bumpy rides and finally on the Wedding Night, most of our genre snore away gleefully than touching the other half! Step One of the process is when your parents do feel you are ready for the wedding. You finish your education, settle down in a job and after a sizeable bank balance, you are ready for the market. Word is sent around through close relatives that there have been " many alliances" coming in for the poor fellow, who would have received cat-calls in any mall or office.

As word gets around, there are sudden visits from distant relatives who have not even known you were alive so far. This is the time of PA- Personal Appraisal. The HR here( your parents) goes overdrive in marketing you, they list out your characters and pay check with interesting anecdotes like- " You know something? My son has killed so many snakes with his bare hands" ( Poor chap, he would die at the sight of a cockroach in the closet!). Women don't fare better either. HR team promotes her as 'the cute, gentle, soft spoken, culinary talented, intelligent working woman'. Marketing slogan here would be- " My daughter is so calm and soft spoken, you can't even hear what she talks at times". ( Oh boy! They would hear her later clanging on kitchen vessles, yelling louder than thunder screech, save it for later!) After numerous bio-datas and photo sessions ( trial and error method, of course!), you finally arrive at the best bio and photo taken, after a dozen hundreds shelled out. Again the photographer here acts as if he were featured in The Vogue, asking you to take all positions, even more than what Vatsyayana, (of Kamasutra fame) would have imagined in his wildest dreams! Photo-shopping your pictures and after editing, your photo emerges a sure winner, would give Aishwarya Rai a run for her money from Bollywood!

The next Step will be "Casual encounters" with opposite parties. God knows it is indeed an 'encounter' for the poor souls! Once you nod your head seeing a picture and a bio-data, there are numerous such 'chance' meetings in temples, churches and hotel lobbies. Boy, it is fun to watch starry eyed hunk and lovey-dovey beauty as per profile pictures, meeting a balding or greying gentleman in his 30s and a flabby sweaty woman in her late twenties!!! Who said 'Appearances are deceptive'? Photographers are!! Making up your mind and weighing down all the options left ( as if many!) you finally decide to say something when the elder next to you says- " Let them talk in person". He may seem like God impersonified to you then, beware, he is going to wreck havoc! They give you ten minutes time to discuss. Five minutes of it is spent in ' So?' ' Then?' and the remaining five minutes in a trance, the only thing now that registers is NOTHING that you can remember later. With an ahem, ahem from the elder, the show comes to a close, now it is families mingling together. It almost resembles a Bollywood masala movie with lots of Anupam Khers and Alok Naths chit-chatting and Kiron Khers and Rakhis( all Bollywood actors) giggling. You feel as if you stepped out from a time-capsule when they finalise the DEAL!

You like to say- "Hey, wait a minute, i don't want all that...", but words get stuck somewhere between the trachea and tongue. Bargaining goes on for hours at times, serious debates and deliberations and finally Voila! Your rate is fixed! Other discussions that follow like date, mandap, engagement and wedding details don't just enter your thick skull, you are already in Switzerland, with a dozen white-skinned angels gyrating and you and your sweet heart lilting to the latest Bollywood hit!

You are now in a different plane of thinking, trivialities don't bother you. You forget your lunches and dinners, your nights are spent with heat! ( Nah! Not that heat, its the heat of your mobile glued to your ears for hours together) You still cannot remember a single word of your so-called conversations with your loved one, if asked now. As the day of engagement nears, all hell breaks loose. You loose count of the number of quarrels between your family and the in-laws, you cannot remember how many times your siblings would have cursed you for all the trouble...It is shopping time and Mr Elder starts the ball rolling with a ' what is the cost of bride's costume?'. It continues- Which relatives will get one, who will not? Which cook to book? Who will be the photographer? The videographer? The Mandap( wedding hall)? The Decoration team? The vegetables? The menu? Friends' party? Who will get the A/C rooms in hotel? Who will get bridal party's A/C vehicle? How many wedding invites? Invitation designs? How to distribute? Which areas? Who will cover? Who will preside? Who can talk on dias? Who must garland the couple? Who must not? The chaos continues till the moment you tie the knot, but blessed you- You are still in trance! No such questions and quarrels reach your 'inner sanctum' for you have attained "Nirvana"- the ineffable ultimate! Still suffering from the day before's bachelor party hangover you look at your bride and sure she looks terrible with that latest make-up aka whitewash by the beautician! The beautician gives her 100% in making sure your bride doesn't even remotely look like the one you know!!

Then follows the reception where you feel the heat and sweat. Your legs would beg you to sit somewhere, but oh no....its not over yet! People queue up with gifts to shake your hand and take a picture with you. The queue looks longer than the Great Wall and you feel dizzy at the thought of having pictures taken with every one of them! After a few fist fights and glares the ritual runs smoothly, you can see people posing with you, as if you were both Price Charles and Lady Di. Some stand cool, some with a readymade smile plastered to their face. Your mouth aches, you have now posed for hours like King Kong's smile, beware, the deformity might be permanent! With the reception over with a loud bang from the orchestra who have yelled their lungs out the evening, festivities draw to a close. A sigh of relief!- Oh no, not yet! not so fast! Its dinner time and again the photographers hound you asking you to feed your partner. You feel like shoving your hand through his thick throat, but alas! It is all public. Stifling an overwhelming anger to hit him, you instead smile sweetly at your partner and show the anger in stuffing a handful in his/her mouth, which is indeed repeated with same 'love'! Cursing everyone, with your head still drumming, you find a quiet corner to rest and thats when the 'suhaag raat' thing comes up. Oh my! shouldn't you be jumping with joy? Yes, your temples jump instead and the dinner eaten is on its way back. You are told to wash up and change and when you finally arrive to see your partner, he/she might be blissfully snoring on the bed! Lucky you! You occupy the other end and snore even before you hit the sack! Festivities go on for a few more days and when finally you do have a loving look at your dear one, you sure do feel- " Oh boy! All this mayhem for this?" Don't worry partner, your Mom and Dad, Grandpa and Grandma all would have felt the same;) That is what an arranged marriage is!!!


  1. Aaha, idhula ivvlo vishayam irukkudha. Romba kashtam dhaan. Vijayan.

  2. Thanks for your valuable time and comment dear vjn. Ithukke ipdi bayantha eppudi?:P

  3. Thanks a lot for your comment dear Raniiiii:)

  4. Nice post.

    But there is a major's CACOPHONY actually. :P

  5. Dear tweedlethumb:) Thanks for your first comment on my blog and double thanks for pointing out the typo:) Rectified now:)

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  7. My so so good u write CN......


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