The big fat Indian wedding has wheels within wheels. It is not just about grandeur, rites and rituals or give and take.
It is a bond that brings two families together which can stand by one another through the ups and downs of life. Yet the noble idea has been distorted over the years.
We Indians have been somehow led to believe that the groom’s side has the upper hand. It is deemed that they have all the rights to call the shots, while the bride’s people have no other choice except to pander to their wishes. If you are under the impression that it is a hoary tradition followed by kings and the common man alike, an incident in the Ramayana will vouch for the contrary.
King Janaka of Mithila sent his messengers on the fastest horses to Ayodhya. King Dasharatha was apprised of how his son Rama had won his bride Sita by performing the incomparable feat of breaking the bow of Shiva. The happy king rallied his royal entourage and reached Mithila in double quick time. He was extended a richly deserved warm welcome by the host.
The raja Rishi Janaka who was on the verge of completing various rituals that he had begun at the head of the contest knew that it would be right on his part to complete the task that he had ventured into before conducting the nuptials of his dear daughter.
He gently broached the subject to Dasharatha, because he was the groom’s father. Usually it was the bridegroom, and his people who directed the proceedings during a wedding. Yet Dasharatha magnanimously asked Janaka to do as he thought fit, for three reasons. Firstly, Dasharatha recognised Janaka to be a Rajarishi who understood the importance of the Yajnas that he had commenced.
Secondly, it was a well known fact that a man of integrity would be bound by his sense honour to complete the activity begun by him. Thirdly and more importantly, Dasharatha made it clear that in a marriage, the bride’s father was the giver while the groom’s people were the receivers. Ideally, the giver is superior to the receiver because his hands are above the hands of those that receive. Hence Dasharatha, graciously let Janaka go ahead with the wedding according to his convenience.
When we examine the situation from a conventional point of view, King Dasharatha had all the necessary power and position to take umbrage at the proposition.
Yet he chose to be compliant because of his innate noble nature and also because he understood and believed that misplaced ego should not play spoilsport in the alliance between the two families that were coming together to pave way to a new beginning!