Revati hurried outside her room, holding her laptop aloft. She plonked herself on the sofa in the living room, and called out to her mom.
“Mom, come soon. I want you to see this!”
“Come, come, come… Come fast! What ARE you doing?”
“OMG! I’m coming… You still behave like a child! Is this what you’re going to do, when you go to your sasural?”
“Oh please, mom! Don’t start with the same dialogues again. Come, sit next to me. I wanna show you something.” She held out the laptop for her mom to see. “You remember my friend, Neha, who went to US for her post-graduate degree? She just got married last month. She’s married an American, so their wedding was a mix of both Indian as well as Christian rituals. How cool, right? Ooohh, I love her gown! It’s so pretty!”
“It sure is. Neha is looking really beautiful. And what a handsome groom! A nice catch!”
Revati’s eyes twinkled at her mom. “Ha ha ha! That is such a typical Indian mommy dialogue! Anyways, check out the decorations and all. Everything done in orchids and lilies… She must have spent a bomb on this wedding…”
“Yes, that’s true. But, so few guests! It almost seems like just a house party for us.”
“Well, that’s how they have it over there. For them, a nice wedding is one with about 50-75 guests. Any number about 100 is too lavish for them.”
“Well, that’s just plain nonsense. You just see how lavish your wedding will be! Your father has told me he’s not going to hold back his hand on anything for his only daughter’s marriage!” Revati’s mother looked at her fondly.
Revati glanced at her mom, wondering how to broach the topic.
“Well… Yes, mom… About that… You see, I had a talk with Arvind, and he feels, maybe we should think of a different place to have our wedding…”
“Ohh, he doesn’t like Keerti Palace? No worries. Your father has also been to the Lalit Mahal, you know. And he was also saying Lalit Mahal seems better than the current one…”
“No, no… Mom, stop! It’s not that. We were thinking about the whole thing. That maybe… you know, we don’t want to do it like this.”
Revati was almost scared to say the next sentence out loud. “We don’t want a big wedding. We want to have a small one, with only the close family involved. No pomp and show.”
“What do you mean, a small wedding? Like Neha’s? What rubbish! Next thing, you’ll be telling me you want to get married in a church.”
“Oh come on! I’m not gonna say that.”
“That’s the only thing you’re not saying. What is wrong with you young people? You have no respect left for our traditions?”
“What traditions, mom? What kind of a tradition is this, where only the girls’ parents have to bear the brunt of the entire marriage expenses, and the quality of the wedding is decided upon the number of guests, and the number of sweet dishes you have, and the cost of the return gift you give!”
Revati’s mom looked at her angrily. “So, should we cancel the whole thing? Just go to the court and register your wedding. Anyways, that’s what you want to do, right? Just tell us, whether we are allowed to come or not!”
Revati started giggling in spite of herself. “Seriously, mom, reduce the number of daily soaps you watch! What melodrama! My goodness!”
Her mom smacked her on the knee in mock protest. “You make me behave like this. Tell me what is on your mind.”
Revati looked at her mom, and took her hands in hers. “Look, mom. Both of us have full respect for our traditions, ok? We do not want to skip the rituals at all. We want to do everything, and the only thing that will get reduced is the number of guests and the gifts you have to give to my in-laws.”
“What, Reva, that’s not possible. What will they say?”
“Arvind is talking to them as well, right now. And he’s gonna convince them about this. He doesn’t want you to bear the full expense either. He’s going to take up 50% of the total expenses.”
Revati’s mother slapped her hand to her forehead in exasperation. “You kids! What else are you going to tell me now! Look, Reva. I understand that you and Arvind don’t want us to bear so much expense. But, the fact is we are not doing this under any pressure. We WANT to do this. You are our only daughter. Why won’t you let us do it? We want to spend the money on you.”
“Then, spend it, but not like this. I don’t want to splurge it on my marriage like this. We want to make a donation on the occasion of our marriage. You can pitch in to that with some amount. Or make a fixed deposit and give it to me. I’ll use it for my kids’ educations.”
“What will our relatives say, beta? This is not done in our family!”
“I don’t care what people say. The people I care about is only my close family, and those will be present at the wedding. The other relatives, I neither know them that well, nor do I care about them.”
“But, we care about them.”
“Then, talk to them and tell them what we are doing. Maybe one or two of them will talk or taunt you, but a majority of them will understand.”
“This is not how it’s done, Reva. This is not our tradition.”
“Ok, mom. What is our tradition? Our tradition says, we should do a graha shanti, before we start an auspicious ceremony like this. Our traditions say, a learned guruji should be chanting the mantras, and granting us his holy blessings. Our rituals demand that we make seven rounds of the sacred yadnya and that Arvind places the sindhoor on my forehead and ties the mangalsutra around my neck. Which one of these are we leaving out, tell me? Our traditions do not say, spend lakhs and lakhs of money on weddings and call the entire world to show off your wealth.”
“Come on Reva. We are not doing this to show off our wealth. We are doing this as you’re our only daughter, and we want to share our happiness. We want this to a memorable day for you.”
“And it will be a very happy and memorable day for me! Trust me, I don’t want those five hundred people whom I don’t know attending my wedding, and you getting all harried out trying to do all the tasks at once. I want you as well to relax and enjoy the wedding, as much as me.”
“So, you want an American wedding!”
“Ha ha ha! No, I want a pure traditional Indian wedding. But, it doesn’t hurt to copy some of their customs, right? At least those that are good for us.”
“Don’t go asking for champagne, next!”
“Ohh, crap! That was going to be my next demand!… Sorry, sorry, just a joke, just a joke!”Revati cried out in protest, as her mother raised a hand to smack her knee again.
Her mother sighed. “I don’t know how we will explain this to your dad.”
“Arvind is gonna come home for that. Dad can’t say no to him.”
Revati’s mother smiled at her. “You two have really thought this through then?”
“Yes, mom. We have. You know, generally, we follow everything in life thinking all things that are traditional Indian are perfect and great, and the Westerners don’t have any culture at all. That is actually not so right. Maybe, it is time, we make changes in our patterns, and adopt some of their traditions. Who knows, this fusion would be more amazing that anything we’ve experienced till now.”
“Hmmm… Well, we can’t argue with you young women of today. You observe so much every day when you’re out meeting different people, and are so quick in making decisions, and wise decisions, at that. We were not like this when we were your age. I’m so proud of you, Reva!”
“Thank you, mom! Now, since you’re so hell bent on spending money on my wedding, what say, we get orchids décor for my pandal?”
“Ohhhh… so now you want to spend? Let me show you… wait…!”
Their giggles carried all the way outside the house, making their neighbors smile at the mother-daughter love!
What do you think, ladies? Was Revati right? Is money the only thing important in a wedding? We say marriage is the only time, we can invite people over and engage with them? But, then with such a big crowd, do you really engage with people? Again, there are so many people from the older generation in the family. They would take offense at not being invited to such an important occasion. Then, is Revati right to risk this anger that would be hurled at her parents, because of her decision?
Come on girls, we want to know what the women of today think about this? Do you feel it is right to fuse our traditions with the western ones in something as important as marriage? Feel free to give a completely frank opinion. Again, remember, there cannot be a single right or wrong answer for this… So, go ahead! Spill the beans in your head… We are waiting for your response!