How in the world are females from humble backgrounds expected to get married?
Matrimony, as ages have known it, is the legalisation of a bond that two people share as spouses. It actually is that simple and lucid! Yet, here we are today at a standpoint where the word ‘marriage’ paints in our minds a vivid image of fancy lightings, a couple of shamyanas, extravagant food and the bride-groom duo clad in clothes so expensive, the amount could probably feed a village or two. Add to that the seemingly unending Indian culture of the groom grabbing all the wealth he and his family can from the bride, all under the safe canopy of the term ‘dowry’ or ‘Dahej’, and you have the perfect recipe for a disastrous union based on nothing but a superficial and materialistic ground, which sooner or later erodes into mere dust.
Undoubtedly, the first issue that turns our necks in regard to marriage is one of affordability. How in the world are females from humble backgrounds expected to get married? With all these vain, chauvinistic customs and traditions in place, girls of marriageable ages and with the will to get wed find it increasingly hard to find spouses. Even if they do find spouses, the couple tends to elope and get wed in seclusion. All we do is complain about the sorry situation our children leave us in after eloping, by conveniently ignoring the fact that the motivation for them having eloped could be to escape the unnecessary extravaganza that we uphold as ‘culture’. So much so, that we have witnessed increasing reports of girls going missing, oftentimes found returning home as married women! On donning a lens that is sensitive of the ever-escalating instances of female foeticide, we ought to wonder why the female child is considered a burden and the male child a gold-egg laying swan in the first place. The fact that a girl’s family is on the giving end of the matrimonial extravagant ‘gifting’ and the boy’s family on the receiving end seems like one plausible explanation.
Indeed, humans can go to endless means in a bid to justify their acts. All this galore expense incurred during marriages is legitimised by calling it an affair that demands celebration. That marriage is an occasion of immense happiness is true enough, but why can’t this happiness translate into feeding the poor so they share in our happiness or doing an extra bit of charity that day, over and above what we routinely do? Surveys have it that the most common hefty loans in India include those procured by parents of females for their marriage and they end up spending the rest of their lives in misery trying to repay it. Moreover, it has also been seen that often, couples running off or eloping to get married do so under the awareness of the female’s parents, for they are just pitiful beings trying to get their well-of-age daughter married without having to incur the insane expenditure! That certainly feels grey, amidst the clear demarcation of the binary of black and white.
Dumbledore, the legendary Head Master from the Harry Potter series said, “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” Amidst all of this pathetic humdrum came a glimmering ray of hope when, in the first ever mass marriage in Kashmir, 105 couples from economically weaker sections of the society tied the knot at a simple function in Amar Singh Club, under the patronage of an NGO. This event is proof that the rust that has accumulated over our society can be cast and shed off with the smallest of gestures. After all, it is the small events that sum up to create a revolution. All in all, marriage is, in essence, a sancti-judicial affair and should be allowed to remain so. With the heavily embroidered and bejewelled regalia that generations have made marriage wear, we risk losing the trust of our younger generation as well as the healthy sex ratio that India seems to be grappling to maintain.