Love & Indian Society

Love has been a four lettered word in conservative Indian households for more reasons than just the actual letter count. But that was 30 years back. Things have been changing rapidly with the onset of globalization. But India is a complex multi layered society with the changes penetrating at varied extent at different strata levels in an already highly heterogeneous society. This land has a unique heritage of Kamastutra, Buddha’s ideals of celibacy and monasticism, Islamic ideals of protecting the women’s modesty and the Victorian hypocrisy. So it would really not be fair to present a single unified view point as Indian society’s attitude towards love. Nor would the limited space afforded by a blog offer sufficient space to do full justice to the various facets. So what I would attempt is to present how a typical conformist individual from a conservative middle class family would find love. I have tried to use the medium of English nursery rhymes to portray the same to keep the narrative a bit lively.

Let us start where it all begins: when the parents feel their children have reached marriageable age.

Little Jack Horner
Sat in the corner,
Eating a Christmas pie;
He put in his thumb,
And pulled out a plum,
And said 'What a good boy am I”

At this stage, the boy and girls are rather naïve and obedient. Or at least the parents expect them to be so. At this point, the process begins. The parents approach a matchmaker.

Match maker, Match Maker, where have you been?
I've been down to Chennai to visit the girls’ dad keen.
Match maker, Match Maker, what did you there?
I frightened a little girl, under her chair

Once the match maker finds a match, the parents of the boy and the girl interact.

Bah, Bah a black Sheep,
Have you any Wool?
Yes merry have I,
Three Bags full,
One for my master,
One for my Dame,
One for the little Boy
That lives down the lane

The black sheep (the girl’s dad) promises goodies for the master (the boy’s dad), the dame (the boy’s mom) and the little boy who lives down the lane. (The bridegroom) Next it is time to introduce another key actor in the process: the astrologer.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high, 
Like a diamond in the sky

The astrologer consults the stars and decides if the stars want the marriage to take place or not and on what date and time. With this done, we move to the next phase: the girl and the boy begin to interact over the phone. The girl is very curious about her future husband.

Johnny Johnny
Yes papa 
No papa. 
No papa
Ha ha ha

I would like to mention here that in some of the south Indian states, young women are addressed as papa. Once this phase gets over, we approach the actual day of the marriage.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again

On the day of the wedding the bridegroom would be placed on the marriage altar in front of the fire place like Humpty Dumpty. And who said one can only fall in love? One can fall in marriage as well. Once he is into it, his whole life changes and no one can put him together again. With the marriage done, the girls’ parents sadly bid farewell to their daughter.

Little Bo-Peep has lost her sheep,
And can't tell where to find them;
Leave them alone, And they'll come home,
Wagging their tails behind them

The girls’ parents are left feeling like Little Bo-Peep having lost their daughter as the daughter heads for the honeymoon with her husband.

Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water.
Jack fell down and broke his crown
And Jill came tumbling after.

With the budgetary constraints of a middle class family, the honeymoon can be a bit too adventurous at times and the newly married Jack and Jill may have to overcome quite some obstacles. And then tiding through various obstacles they manage to sail through one full year.

Mary had a little lamb,
little lamb, little lamb,
Mary had a little lamb,
whose fleece was white as snow.

The stork comes and delivers the little lamb to the family as love finally begins to blossom between the couple.

With such a long and elaborate pre love process, no wonder from here on love has only one direction to go: up. That is why here marriages still last a life time unlike the west, where people change spouses like shoes. With all its weaknesses and flaws, one must admit the Indian arranged marriage system has been somehow working and millions of people still find love through this system: a love that lasts a lifetime.

Related Post: Great Indian Bride Hunt

Why give a damn to T20 World Cup?

So India repeats its dismal performance in world cup, eh? Players seem to care more about IPL? So what should we do? How to make players more interested in world cup than IPL? Before trying to answer that, let us consider if that is the right question to be asking. Instead let us ask why should players be more interested in Twenty Twenty World Cup. As a spectator ask yourself, which was more entertaining - IPL or twenty twenty world cup? Twenty twenty world cup is just another drab event. All of us have to support the same team. Most of us except the die hard cricket enthusiasts are uninterested in matches India does not play. Zero glamor quotient. Compare it to IPL. Even within your family, you can be supporting two different teams. You don't have natural loyalties to any particular team. So most of us end up watching all the matches. Even if our favorite team looses, we can support the next favorite team. And then we have the extra X-Factor from Bollywood. And then you the other frills such as being able to watch the matches in your own city in the stadium environment and matches screened at film halls in 3 D.

Sportsmen are but basically entertainers and they get paid for the entertainment they give. So what is wrong if they prefer to reserve their best performance for the tournament that gives better entertainment to their country men? And as far as national pride etc. goes, we have one day and test cricket for that. Why one more form of cricket for the same? I also fail to understand why cricketers are not seen as what they are - entertainers and instead given the high pedestal of national heroes.Even if India were to become no.1 in all forms of cricket, what is the great national pride in being no. 1 in a sport that most of the important countries of the world do not play. If it were soccer or tennis, which almost every important country in the world plays or Olympics, then we can talk about national pride in besting all other nations of the world in at least one sphere? But cricket ! Give me a break. Let us acknowledge cricket for what it is - just entertainment and enjoy it in the form that gives us maximum entertainment which is of course IPL and appreciate the players who gave us those few weeks of fun and escape from the rigors of day to day life instead of blaming them for their world cup performance.

Related Post: Cricket me: My Trysts with India's National Passion

For whom the bell tolls

A book of faces