Stellar Chariot

By Arun Neelakandan

So I Went to a Wedding Reception

Some of my friends have started to get married.

A couple of days ago, I went to a friend’s wedding reception held at a majestic venue. The groom’s (and bride’s) cultural background (South Indian, and I think Iyengar) is similar to mine and therefore the wedding ceremony was also similar to what my parents, and relatives, went through when they got married.

Various thoughts jounced around in my head as I sat and enjoyed the food, company, performances and speeches. One quote in particular stuck with me: “marriage is not a union of two people, but a union of two families”). Here are some of my thoughts (however irrational they may be):

  • Damn, I’m expected to go through something similar (i.e. get married) in the not-too-distant future eh?
    • Because that’s the norm, the expected course of life-traversal: school > university > work > get married > have and raise kids > retire
  • Should or will I even get married?
  • If I do, where’ll I get married? With whom? Will they be from the same cultural background as me?
  • What if I fall in love with a non-Indian, non-Hindu person? This’ll be a monstrous problem with my family. Although I’m secular and I don’t particularly discriminate against a person’s background, my family have other ideas. My family is weird^ and they have a certain expectations for my wife-to-be. There’s a good chance either my family will get hurt and/or my partner (and her family) will get hurt.
  • Which do I choose? Family? Or me? Or both?
    • If I choose family, then I may not be getting what I want and be placated by their wishes.
    • If I choose me, will my treasured family abandon me? What about social pressures and reputation? “Good little Arun has chosen to marry a white girl?!”
    • Or both — but this means I can’t be attracted to anyone outside specific characteristics that’ll appease my family?
  • This sucks.
  • Should I just get an arranged marriage?
  • Man, I am also not keen on receiving so much attention. I don’t want a big, extravagant wedding.
  • But it’s likely that my wife-to-be (should I get married), her family and mine will? I’d guess they’d expect the wedding to be spectacular and unforgettable — So I’ll have to compromise and bear it for them, for their happiness — because even though it might not be what I want, it’s something I can cope with.
  • I hope I never get married. Or be in a relationship. So this way, no one will get hurt — to her, her family, and mine. Apart from me (my self-sacrificial tendencies surfaces again; hooray!)
  • But it’d be awesome to have someone to share my life with at an intimate level. I’d like a ‘soulmate’.
  • Hey, isn’t it cowardly to shy away from pain? Sacrifices have to made to obtain something of greater value. I’m know I’m willing to suffer pain. Will someone suffer pain for me? Am I ready to let someone else suffer for me? Am I ready to look for this person? Should I look for this person?

I’d imagine that my situation is not entirely unique. Many face the same questions — especially whose families who have emigrated but still subscribe to their cultural restrictions. I think this is why a great number of people choose their partners to be from their same cultural origins (e.g. a muslim from Bangladesh marrying another Bangladeshi muslim.)

^ Needless to say, I love them nonetheless.