CONNUBIAL POTPOURRI Hybrid weddings, the new nuptial trend, are more couple-centric, observes Anusha Shashidhar
“From biscuit to brides, if there is anything their children really want, parents have a problem!”
Does this witty one-liner ring a bell? Try saying “Dad, I’m in love with someone outside our caste,” and the next thing you will probably see is your mother dropping to the floor in a filmy faint, and your Dad’s fat moustache crackling with electric sparks! Next comes a series of Kathakali-like expressions on their faces and perhaps, Yakshagana-like howlings even. It is only post this “theatrics phase” that one can actually begin to weather the storm and make a peace talk with the parents.
Then, the theatrics phase passes and the “agnipariksha phase” begins. Going weak in the knees (non-pleasurably, for sure), breaking into cold sweat, and shuffling around clumsily are all a part of this. We are talking about the “meet the parents” phenomenon, of course. It is nothing short of a Herculean task. You might rock the corporate world with your rock-steady confidence and your convince-at-the-blink-of-an-eye charm, but getting your would-be in-laws to like you, or at least accept you, calls for completely new dynamics.
As if this weren’t enough, the agnipariksha phase is followed the “kiddish parents phase”. Right from what the wedding menu should contain to which colour of clothing to choose for the wedding day, both sets of parents are sure to grumble their preferences, if not squabble openly.
Chetan Bhagat’s one-liner, from his novel 2 States, certainly captures it all! Lately though, these uncalled for filmy phases are evading and parents are more willing to let their children have the life partners of their choice, irrespective of caste, community, and religion.
Sowmya Raghavan, a wedding planner, agrees, “Yes, lately the society has thankfully become more open to inter-caste/community/religion marriages. In fact, my team and I are handling one such wedding now, due in April. It is a marriage between a Christian girl and a Telugu Brahmin guy. The fact that both the families are supporting this wedding is a remarkable change in the society. The best part about such a wedding is that it is more open to creative and fun ideas, thereby making it a couple-centric affair, the way it should be, unlike same-caste weddings that are heavily ritualistic and take away the fun aspect from the couples.”
Indeed, the hybrid style of wedding adds a unique zing to the most memorable event in a person’s life. Says Prerana Golechha, “When I told my parents that I wished to marry a Marwari (we are Kannada Lingayats), all they needed to know was that Malay (my husband) and his family were respectable. They were absolutely fine with it. However, we are non-vegetarians, and Malay’s vegetarian parents were very uncomfortable in this regard. But once my family and I assured them that we would have an all-vegetarian menu for all events, they had no further problems. Our wedding went very smoothly with a Sangeet on the eve of the wedding, a South Indian style Muhurtam early next morning, and the Marwari style Saat Phere in the afternoon.”
Getting married is quite different from marrying away your daughters and sons. What do parents of such couples have to say in this regard?
“Initially I wasn’t very happy when I found out that my daughter wanted to marry a Telugu Shetty, as we are Kannada Brahmins,” recollects, Bhagavat.
“There were differences on both caste and language fronts. However, I agreed to meet the boy and realized that he and his family were well-educated, financially sound, and eager to have my daughter as a part of their family. I realized that these credentials were more important than the caste differences. So, I agreed to their wedding and I must say it went rather smoothly, given that both families were open to small differences in our customs. I knew that my daughter would be in good hands, with the man she loved,” he says, peacefully.
With the new-age parents thankfully being more liberal in letting their new-age kids choose their own life partners, irrespective of ethnic differences, hybrid weddings can go a long way in making the couple feel truly happy on D-day. After all, you don’t sit teary and red-eyed in front of the Havan, dropping various tidbits into the fire, in sync with the pujari’s alien-sounding chants, for nothing.
P.S. The next phase will bring with it differences in what your families want to name your babies, what kind of naming ceremony is best, and how your babies should be brought up. And the saga goes on…
Tips for new-age wedding*
* Co-Shopping: if the families need to shop together, make sure either you are or your partner is always with the parents to ease some awkwardness and tension between both sides.
* Reverse Parenting: Cranky parents? For such cases, the groom and bride need to do some reverse parenting on both - their own parents as well as each other’s. Remember how your parents used to pacify you with chocolates and dolls whenever you got cranky as a small kid? Take a cue from that and pacify your parents and in laws by showering them with gifts, treats, and compliments. Let them know they are loved for their support.
* Ritual Education: The best way to get around awkwardness with each other’s customs is to self-educate or get a wedding planner to educate both sides on the different customs followed by either families. That should reduce, if not get rid of, ritual shock.
* Hybrid Rituals: Yes, this means you can even have a Sangeet and Mehendi in a South Indian wedding! Just fuse the rituals together to have a unique wedding that everyone will cherish in the years to come.
* Theme Up: If having a hybrid style wedding proves difficult because the families aren’t really into it, then, make sure you have a themed wedding. Doing this will bring down the influences of “ritual” and make the wedding more about celebration of union, rather than about age-old and rigid customs.
* Go Dutch: Be true partners for life! Make sure you contribute half the cost of all the wedding affairs put together; in fact decide on the budget together. This will go a long way in keeping at bay the cultural, ritualistic, and lifestyle differences between the families.
* Conditions apply