Tying the knot

In India, did you know that there are more places of worship than schools or hospitals? Did you know that religious pilgrimage accounts for a sizable percentage of the total tourism every year? Did you know that studies have shown that the more educated we get the more the fundamental aspects of religion appeal to us? You may not have been aware of all that but you do know that everyone from cricketers to celebrities to politicians give generously to temples and other places of worship in the hopes of successfully bribing God into assuring them a good sporting series, movie or term in office. Right? So, does religion matter to us Indians? I don’t think I even need to answer that question…

VNY_4999Moving to marriage now, it’s a big step. It’s one of the most important responsibilities that a good number of parents believe they are entrusted with – making sure that their offspring are well settled so that they always have companionship and love in their lives. Most parents believe that that love will come only if the other person shares the same religious beliefs as their child. Perhaps, in a way, they’re not wrong. Any married person (unless they are really lucky) will tell you that marriage requires some amount of hard work. Even if you have matching horoscopes or have said the same prayers to the same God all your life; you’ll still have days when you want to wring his or her neck because you just can’t seem to agree on anything. It’s normal (I think). But, when you add religious differences to the mix, things can get dangerous. Remember, wars have been fought in the name of religion.

Being in love is beautiful. Finding someone who can make you happy and is there for you when you need them is a surreal feeling. I doubt that until things get really serious, religion even plays on your mind. But, when it does, suddenly knowing that there will come a day when you won’t enjoy the freedom to go to the place of worship you’ve gone to all your life seems like a frightening reality to me. The idea of having to compulsorily take a bath and perform a small religious ceremony before entering the kitchen in the morning, or having to wear a burqa and never venturing outside without a male chaperon, or eating with people who have no qualms about what kind of meat they are consuming or how the animal has been slaughtered becomes a very real future and one, which if it was me, I don’t know if I could handle. But, that’s just me.

Perhaps, all of it can be overcome if the couple is strong enough to face whatever or whoever opposes their union. Liberal enough in the way they think to adopt a lifestyle which is perhaps more spiritual than religious, in the conventional terms, and accept that their children will by default be registered with the same faith as the husband. Be willing to make compromises of a degree that I don’t think other marriages normally require, especially in our pretend-secular-tolerant India. Finally, to be so in love that the idea of being without each other is unfathomable. Without all of that, to my mind, the outlook of inter-caste/faith/race/whatever marriages succeeding in a country of such high religious fervour is not that bright.

So, I don’t think the concept of inter-faith marriage is entirely taboo. But, I feel that for it to become accepted as routine or normal, we need to abandon being religious and become spiritual instead.

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Written for Indispire – 25 hosted on Indiblogger. – “Inter-religion marriage still taboo among Indians. You’re take.”

D is for Dance

He was sitting at the table watching the celebrations when the band began to play his favourite song. His eyes glazed over with memories. How many evenings had they danced to that tune together? How many times had he whirled her in his arms? His eyes automatically searched the crowded room for her. When he spotted her, her arm was linked through his and she was laughing. She had forgotten. He sighed and smiled a little sadly; she’d dance with him now.

He had turned away when suddenly, “Daddy! That’s our song! Aren’t you going to ask me to dance?!”

father-daughter-dance-song-playlist

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Image courtsey: bridalmusings.com

Written for ABC Wednesday “D is for…”

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Lessons from my first year of marriage

So, the Monday past, my husband and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary. Last night, I asked him if hewedding-cake-toppers-115556_640 could believe we’ve been married for a year already only to have him nodding impatiently. (In his defense, I ask him that question quite often). But, the thing is, sometimes I find it difficult to believe that we have been together for that long. It feels like a couple of months ago at the most that I was sitting nervously in his parents house with my parents trying to decide whether or not I wanted to marry him.  I can’t quite grasp the fact that a whole year ago, I suddenly became a grown up.

Anyhow…

In light of my recent anniversary, I’ve decided to post about what I’ve learnt this past year…my lessons from my first year of marriage:

There is nothing wrong with different:

My husband and I decided to get married the day we met each other (it was an arranged marriage, this is kind of how it works!) and between then and the wedding day we met each other a handful of times at best. We didn’t really have the opportunity to get to know each before we said “I do“. So, it was only after we got married that we had conversations about anything really serious. Initially, it used to bother me that we disagreed on things I considered important. I would spend ages wondering how his ideas, sometimes radically different from mine, would affect our future. But I’ve learnt that just like I am entitled to my opinion…so is he…I am wiser now and therefore no longer worried.

Nobody is perfect:

Why point out the speck in your brother’s eye and ignore the log in your own? I remember reading something like that in the Bible…What I’m getting at is even though my husband is the love-of-my-life, there are things about him that annoy me more and more with each passing day. (I’m pretty sure there are things about me he detests too). But, no one is perfect and it wouldn’t be fair for me to expect him to change since I don’t really think I’ll change that much myself. Over this past one year, I’ve come to terms with the fact that neither one of us is perfect and I’ve accepted his shortcomings, just like he has accepted mine.

Compromise:

Of course I like to have things my own way! I’m only human after all. But, I’ve figured out this past year that sometimes it’s better to give in to my husband and just do what he wants rather than have a huge fight about it. Mind you, I wasn’t born wise and I didn’t arrive at this conclusion very quickly. It’s taken countless hours spent annoyed that my husband won’t do what I want him to do the way I want him to do it to realize that if something can be done another way that won’t cause me too much trouble, by taking a deep breath and doing it his way, it is somehow so much better than brooding. I’m not brilliant at the whole compromise thing yet…but I’m getting there…

In-laws:

A marriage involves the union of two families and not just two people…at least in India anyway. Now I was never naive and did not expect my in-laws to be exactly like my parents. So, I think I always knew that adjusting and learning to do things that the in-laws expect and want is essential to a peaceful marriage. I’ve made adjustments and honestly, so long as meeting their expectations doesn’t require me to change who I am, I’d rather do it than fight about it, because a disagreement with the in-laws means a disagreement between the two of us…which is never something I want so, bottom line, if it will help keep the two of us happy at the end of the day…more often than not, I’ll do whatever.

Men are not mind-readers:

Before I got married, I lived with my best-friend for years and usually, we didn’t have to say anything much to each other to get our point across. Just a gesture here or a frown there or in some cases, merely a hint would send the message very effectively. But then, she is a girl. I’ve learnt such subtleties do not work on men. No, I did not marry a mind reader but fortunately, I married someone who I am very glad can at least tell when I’m angry. I’ve come to learn that nothing beats being absolutely direct with a man. It’s like women and men are wired differently. While we learn to read body language and facial expressions, apparently they do not. Only direct instructions work and after I understood this, I’ve been saved from a lot of frustration…

Not every argument needs to turn into a fight:

man-97976_640I’m sure it’s not just my marriage so I’m going to say this, you are going to disagree with your spouse. But pick what argument needs to turn into a full-blown battle. I still haven’t worked this out entirely, but I’m a lot better today than I was this time last year. I’m trying everyday to let the little things slide…to swallow that irritation and remember that it’s okay to let him win sometimes…It sucks when we are fighting and if just shutting my mouth will save us both from a lot of unpleasantness, I’m willing to sacrifice my pride.

This is probably the most important thing I’ve learnt this past one year.

If you are married, do you relate to any of these things?

Two months…

Two months from today, am going to be dressed in white…am going to be wearing a wedding ring…am going to go from Ms to Mrs…

Mine is an arranged marriage, meaning my parents did all the work and conducted an extremely good search to find the suitable boy. They probably deserve more credit than I can give them for the happy state I’m in, but, I did say yes! 🙂 They managed to find a chap who is pretty much everything I was looking for…and more. Considering how things panned out and the effort that was involved to locate him, I’m inclined to believe that the term “manhunt” originated in the countries of South Asia and initially referred to finding a good match for eligible daughters and not really to searching for a fugitive……

Anyhow…

Two months and I walk down the aisle…two months and I become a part of a new family…two months and I will be married…

Much like that princess (and in my head, I totally am a princess…sometimes…) in a fairy tale I read when I was very young, I found my frog…and luckily for me…he is indeed a veritable prince…