I find some rituals in Hindu marriages quite outrageous but never spoke about them as religious traditions are supposed to be the gifts of our ancestors and are supposed to be blindly followed.
Though I am a staunch believer of equality between men and women I kept attending Hindu marriages with the ritual of Kanyadaan http://amzn.to/2iyoY8N though not being able to digest it. I am not against any religion but I feel that like laws some rituals should also be amended with the changing times.
I was delighted to meet a woman priest ( though very rare) in one of the Indian marriages who was performing the marriage ceremony. The vows that she made the Bride and the groom recite brought tears to my eyes. I started feeling very small in front of her. Lo ! She is following what I had been dreaming to follow for so many years. The vows were as under:-
I will encourage and support you and I would want you to do the same: You’ll have loads of people to criticize and put you down, so it’ll be a welcome change to have someone, who doesn’t doubt you but supports you wholeheartedly.
I will give you your space and expect the same from you: While it’s good to work as a team, there are times when I will need a breather, to spend some quality time alone. You need to do the same so that we both can work well together and make our marriage work.
I will expect you to not hurt me and I will do the same: Amidst countless arguments and lifestyle adjustments, it’s so easy to turn nasty and hurt each other. While I don’t expect you to be a saint, be kind and think about how your words and actions affect me.
I will treat you the way I want to be treated: I will lead by example and if I want you to be my Prince Charming, I will treat you like that (except for when it comes to picking up your dirty dishes).
I will have some boundaries and so should you: While it’s okay to make mistakes, let our identities not be lost in trying to make the marriage work. We both should stand up for our beliefs. It’s completely okay to say no and walk away sometimes.
I will on some days just listen and not ask for a reason: An open mind will help me understand and deal with problems better than a prejudiced mind that has already reached the worse possible conclusion.
I will love myself as much as I love you (maybe even a teeny bit more): Because to give you my best, I need to be happy myself. Constantly putting your needs over mine is just going to lead to me being bitter.
I will forgive you and you expect the same: Marriage is forever a work in progress and we both will make mistakes. Let’s promise to forgive each other but also try and live up to each other’s expectations.
I will love you the way you are: While I will try and teach you how to fold the towel my way, and cook a Sunday meal on my day off, I will mostly love you. Even, when you leave laundry around the house and don’t keep things back in their place. And I hope you take the same view when I wish to not cook and sleep instead.
I promise to keep our marriage personal: I will not exhibit our arguments and differences to the world unless absolutely necessarily. I will not let a third person into our relationship. It will be about us first, always.
I will respect your parents and family members and expect you to do the same- This actually rarely happens
Another ritual is Kanyadan, wherein the bride is presented to the groom by the girl’s parents. There are mainly three reasons why I find this practice quite weird as well as insulting to the girl.
There are as follows:-
– The bride is not a commodity or a non-living thing to be ‘presented’ to the groom.
– She is supposed to marry, and subsequently stay with her husband, out of her own will and not because she is being ‘presented’ to someone.
– Most importantly, the meaning of dan is ‘donate’. Donations are done as acts of charities. How can you ‘donate’ a human being to someone through an act of charity?
– You do charity to the poor and needy. Is this how you describe a groom? Poor and needy?
All my views on this issue were reinforced by this lady priest by removing the word Kanyadaan from the ritual. Later I got to know that the mother-in-law of the bride had requested the priest for the same. I went GaGa over the mother-in-law. Such a rare species…..
I never show interest in attending those lethargic marriage rituals for two reasons 1) I find them boring and 2) The patriarchal angle. But I was keenly interested in attending the wedding rituals of this wedding simply because they were supposed to be carried out in Arya Samaj by the above mentioned priest through Vedic practice.
And the priest’s method of performing rituals more than lived up to my expectations and eagerness. Being from the Arya Samaj tradition, the lady priest was against patriarchal beliefs and rituals, which was truly heartening. She was especially against the practice of Kanyadan for more or less the same reasons mentioned before.
She was also not those typical marriage priests who simply recite mantras, make the couple perform rituals and leave. She believed in explaining her stand and views.
Some of her statements, while performing the marriage, are as follows:-
– “The girl is not a thing to be presented to someone.”
– “If I donate (dan) this glass to someone, I won’t have any right over it. So, do the parents of the girl lose all rights over her after marriage?”
– “In India, women are considered backward as compared to men. But this was never the case during vedic age.”
– She asked the bride and the groom to welcome each other as wife and husband; something I have never heard before.
But despite my clear views on this issue, I used to avoid speaking on it. However, after listening to this practical and sensible person, I won’t.
There is nothing wrong in being traditional, but not at the expense of embracing patriarchy and objectifying women.
Originally posted 2016-09-12 07:42:19. Republished by Blog Post Promoter