Friday, March 15, 2013

Substitute a bride

A young man falls in love with a woman from his neighborhood. He does the honorable thing and proposes marriage 'through proper channels'. The parents are thrilled since all other parameters fit. So they approach the woman's parents. A marriage is arranged and a wedding is planned!  Sounds like a Karan Johar movie so far? So break out the champagne and let the music play.

So how did the fairy-tale end? Oh the prince ( fittingly named Raja) did ride off into the sunset with a blushing bride - only it was not the same woman he was blissfully in love with. Turns out no one had asked the bride-to-be if she wanted to marry the prince in question. So come the wedding day she was no where to be found. The distraught bridegroom just popped the question again- to all the woman at the wedding and one agreed! Before she could change her mind, the 'mantras' were chanted and they were bound in holy matrimony for the next seven lives.The Karan Johar movie just morphed into a Maniratnam film and ironically the woman who ran away is named ..  you guessed it - Roja! (You can watch a random clip from the movie here)

A recent Times of India report claims that "Lady luck shines on groom after bride-to-be disappears". The world over, this would probably be a 'believe it or not' story, but in our country no one seems to raise a brow. I remember a case of  a young woman was rescued from disgrace when she was left standing at the altar for the lack of a fatter dowry. A chivalrous eligible guest stepped into the space vacated by the groom to the eternal gratitude of the bride's family. The other guests lauded him too. Of course no one knows what happened after. We assume they lived happily ever after. But either way, the girl found a husband. So that must count for something, right?

Happy endings? Apparently you have one with Raja and Rani finding each other and eternal happiness.
What about that  girl who is still missing? The parents who decided 'what was best' for her, are hardly going to be pleased about her running away and the 'dishonour' they had to face. Never mind that they had no respect for her as a person and treated her like a commodity that could be off loaded to the first person who offered to take it off their hands, like a piece of furniture that had outlived its usefulness.

As for the substitute bride, it is truly amazing that anyone can step into marriage on the spur of the moment. People probably give more thought to  taking on the role of a bride in a play. But then those people do not grow up listening to how you need to find a groom from the very minute they are born. Most girls in India are 'aware' how hard their families toil to find them the 'right' match. After all if you are a 'responsibility' (liability?) to be settled, one man is as good and as unpredictable as the next. When you have been treated as a 'thing', an object to do with as deemed fit by the elders in your life, you see yourself the same way. The thought that your rights to your own life have been violated does not even cross your mind. Then there is also fate - 'destiny' that must have brought you this cross road. Never mind who the man is, what happens after is your 'destiny'.

The girl whose honour was saved at the altar by the gallant who stepped up to the plate and married her probably got a grateful slave for life. ( Maybe he was very nice and treated her like a queen  though I wonder what his family had to say to the wedding invitee turned surrogate groom.) But for all his chivalry, thought of women as commodities who could be passed around - like the toy truck that's left in the sandbox after a child got tired of it.

No matter what the headline says about 'lady luck shining on a desperate groom' there can be no happy endings till we as a society stop treating women like rag-dolls, to be propped up in a wedding mandap, about as important as the toran or the kalash that pretty up the venue, disposed off with the first seemingly suitable man who comes along.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your views....I just wonder what is the remedy...there is no fear of law...despite illegal, dowry is demanded and given blatantly...I have never heard anyone caught for asking for dowry unless something untoward happens...all rituals point towards the girl as the daughter as daan...treating her as praya dhan...all suck!


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