Don’t get me wrong, I love being married. I love when my husband calls me cutesy names like wifey and jokes about how he’s hiding his divorce papers somewhere in the closet. I love how in all the forms I can write Mrs. and finally write Relationship = HUSBAND under emergency contact information. I love that I don’t have to lie to my parents when I meet him and instead have to explain to them constantly why I’m not with him. I have been blessed to have a great mentor/manager who allows me to work from home for a week in a month from Dallas(which is where my husband lives), which I don’t think he would have had I not been married. We now have only 1 amazon account between us, which is bad in a way because I can’t buy things impulsively anymore. I catch myself just before adding items to the cart to save myself from all the scrutiny. Well, its not actually a bad thing because I’m also saving some money and a trip to the post office to return almost everything. I really wish someone would come up with a global size for all brands. Can’t wait for that One World Order that everyone’s dreading. We finally bid adieu to Splitwise but I haven’t deleted our group yet. I’m keeping it to add expenses when I’m mad at him – “You owe me $50 for pissing me off”. We can add photos on social media with hashtags like #onelove #datenightsbesoromanticevenafter3months #breakfastinbed and #where’smydiamondset without all the aunties and uncles going crazy gawking at it. You get my drift. Marriage is fun, there’s no denying that. Its the wedding part that I have a problem with.
After going through the whole ordeal of a wedding, I have realized why someone as cynical(read hypocritical) as me shouldn’t do it. Its not just about being a cynic. I have found that ages 25-30 are quite crucial in everyone’s lives. I think this age range should be called the “formative years” and not those when we are whiny lame kids. We find jobs, quit jobs, find love, move out of our comfort zones, have fun and at the same time we’re constantly trying to find ourselves. We are trying to find a thread to tie our stories together, forming all these ideals and principles to live by, ditching old ones or upgrading them, structuring our morals, coping with competition and differentiating unrealistic dreams from realistic goals. I realized that with so many things on my mind it was hard to deal with a wedding because it encompasses many things that I was striving to fight. Trust me, I had a longer list during the wedding with points like “Annoying salon ladies trying to tell you how ugly you would be if not for their special aloe-honey-mustard gooey crap”, “Annoying vendors who smell your desperation from miles and act pricey” and basically having to deal with a lot of other annoying people. But for now here are a few things that I thought I could do without.
Patriarchal Indian Wedding Customs
Indians reserve their patriarchy for special occasions. All through your childhood they tell you that you are no less than a boy (atleast in most middle-class families) but when it comes to traditional and outdated customs that are dictated by patriarchy, they will happily engage in them making you wonder if, all along they actually believed that you were upto no good and are grateful that a boy is ready to marry your sorry ass. In South Indian Brahmin custom, the bride’s parents beg the groom to marry their daughter, wash the groom’s feet and bestow him with gifts to please him in a ritual called “kashi yatra”. I was kind of dreading this bit of the wedding ritual but my husband is so very sweet and loves my parents. He made sure that the whole thing wasn’t too awkward and although I did not witness it, the photos speak of his modesty. But I would like to be bestowed with gifts too and I wouldn’t mind a feet wash considering how long I had to stand! I would love to see these customs fade away. They are clearly hindering the progress of a balanced society. Some day patriarchy, some day!
Yes, after writing a whole post about going cosmetically vegan I ended up wearing silk sarees. S-I-L-K. Silk sarees are really pretty but also inhuman. I tried to bring up the conversation with my mom but she wouldn’t have any of my vegan crap. What’s with these South Indians and their obsession with Kancheevaram. I probably wore about 5 of them and with every crease, my brain kept yelling “fraud” at me. This is what I meant by formative years. Here I am with my ideals of veganism and all the talks about how nice a cruelty-free world would be, but in front of the long standing customs, I had to give it all up just to please people and look traditional.
After Kancheevaram, gold takes the cake for inducing obsession in South Indians. Maybe North Indians too, I don’t know. When I started looking at artificial jewelry at a store, my moms eyes went wide and teary. I knew right away that I had to give up and wear all the kilos of gold she had so dearly saved up for my wedding. I’m not trying to be mean here. Yes, I understand the sentiment behind it and what it means to them, but I wish someone would understand what it means to us too. For those wondering, gold mining has raised concerns for various reasons such as environmental impact and labor conditions for the miners. In one article I read how it is impacting the Amazon and it was really alarming.
So Much Wastage
Food, clothes, jewelry and what not. I will never look at my reception clothes again. So there goes my lehenga down the $2000 drain. I actually gave my lehenga back to the store and saved some money there but it was still a huge waste. I don’t know what happened to the food at the end of the day because I was meaning to call this organization that picks up left-over wedding food but I was so exhausted by the end of the night that I completely forgot about it. And all the gifting each other thing that parents do is really exceptionally wasteful. My parents gifted clothes to my husband’s family and they gifted clothes and things to mine. What if, this might sound crazy, what if, just hear me out, you bought things for yourself, things that you would use and cut down on this whole ritual of buying each other useless things. Well, I can only hope.
In my native tongue there’s a saying that translates to something like this: “Try to build a house, try to plan a wedding” which essentially means that you understand the true meaning of stress when you’re either building a house or planning a wedding. I really stressed out about every single thing. I had all kinds of nightmares ranging from not informing any vendor the date and place of the wedding to my husband turning up 5 hours too late to the wedding. I am the kind of person who likes to plan ahead of time. To that end, I wanted to know exactly how many guests were coming and when they were coming which I realized was too much to ask for. I tried to adult a little too hard. This took quite a toll on me and honestly, I should have let some things go. But I held on and tried to fix everything which leads to my next point- disappointment. I was so stressed that I ended up with acne and was the talk of the town. Every person I met suggested a remedy which stressed me out more.
I feel the need to emphasize that at every step we tried to do things our way. I tried not to wear silk, not to adorn gold and most importantly we fought real hard to beat down sexism which exists at large in the society but under a veil. Initially we tried to push a simple temple wedding down everyone’s throats. When that didn’t pan out, we made it clear to our parents that we did not want more than a certain number of guests at the wedding. Its not that we don’t like people. I love being around family and friends, I feel energized with them. At this point, we just want meaningful relationships in our lives and not forced relationships that turn sour at the drop of a hat. Despite having this kind of control over the wedding that others my age can only hope for(not kidding, ask other Indians), many things did not go the way we wanted it to. I’m sorry, I mean the way “I” wanted it to. I was disappointed with a lot of things. I spent days looking for the perfect wedding dress, but in the end I wasn’t happy with my reception clothes at all. I always thought I wouldn’t look as ugly if I had a professional clicking my photo, but I didn’t magically look like angel in any of the photos. Some of my friends got featured on these acclaimed wedding blogs and I was despondent looking at it. It felt like all those months of efforts weren’t worthwhile. I don’t want to be a narcissist here but some of my relatives commented on the photographs and with every comment I heard, it seemed like my big day wasn’t special at all.
One night I started weeping talking about it and my husband was miffed.
“He told me what the wedding meant to him personally and I could literally feel a cloud of darkness lifting off of my brain. He told me the best part of the wedding for him was the feeling of calmness he felt when the two of us were sitting down amidst all those people and how he felt like it was just the two of us in that moment for him. It absolutely made up for everything that I thought was wrong with our wedding. He also sweetly reminded me of the hypocrisy I was exhibiting.”
For someone who did not want a big wedding in the first place, I sure was disappointed a lot. I did not want to waste money on an expensive lehenga at first, I did not want to indulge in pretentious displays, I did not want to be privy to a lot of things. But I did indulge in all of it and when things did not pan out the way I wanted, I was disheartened. Why? Did the enchanting world of weddings mesmerize me so much that I lost a grip over my own ideals? Was I failing at being the person I wanted to be? How did these frivolous things come to mean more than the person I was with?
I realized that self loathing and pessimism would only ruin the beautiful memories of our day which was actually really special. We had a beautiful ceremony surrounded by mango trees and laughter. I don’t want to taint those memories. In that moment, I also realized how much effort everyone had put into it, our parents, our relatives and our friends. A lot of people flew in from different parts of the world for us. My friends shopped with me for days, organized games for the mehendi event and danced endlessly with us . My mom put in all her evenings after work for 6 months. My dad tried to please me endless by taking me to so many clothing stores and put up with my NRI attitude. A lot of our friends and relatives made donations to the organization we requested them to out of respect for us. They took time off of work and did their best to make us feel their warmth and love. Not their mistake that I am such a cynic. Now I know that all that matters is that in that moment, it was my husband and me, holding hands, running off into the sunset with my family wishing the best for us. In our case it was more like running to the bed to rest our feet 🙂
Well, in the end I guess this post was really about why a girl like me “ABSOLUTELY SHOULD” go through with a wedding – to face the hard-hitting reality of endless love that reminds us to count our blessings! Also, I need to remind myself to see the goodness in things. I need to learn to fight harder against insecurities and misguided ideals.
PS: Link to our wedding video: