Having grown up in a predominantly traditional orthodox South Indian Brahmin family, it was taken for granted that I follow the traditional religious ways followed at home. I, being the youngest among four daughters and a son turned out to be otherwise, much to the surprise of my parents. From the age of 12 I started reflecting and questioning the traditions being religiously followed at home and in the surroundings, and the all the elders at home thought it was the fanciful adolescent period and hence would pass. Much to the annoyance of my siblings more than parents, my tirade against anything traditional or religious increased day by day.
Having seen innumerable arranged marriages within the immediately family of about 30 cousins, the never ending saga of “bridegroom-searching” with right horoscope (or horror-scope!) and right blend of ‘samskara’ and values, I vowed to myself that I would rather not marry at all than marry someone who believed in the match-making horoscope-matching business. And there was no way I would have found a non-believer on my own.
As I was just about to cross 21 years of my earthly life, my paternal aunt arrived with a groom’s detail ‘minus the horoscope’ and said that it was an ideal match for me! My parents and I were reluctant as we still had my elder sister to be married and my parents not too keen to see me married at such an early age! But my aunt persisted and since there was no escaping her, 3 of us set out for groom ‘seeing’ again much against the traditional foursome who usually go out for auspicious occasions (in a South Indian society it is customary that for any auspicious occasion only even number of people go). I think by then my mother too had started questioning the traditions, though she would never admit it openly!
We went to the groom’s house and met the groom and his parents. We had an open talk in front of the parents and found lots of commonalities in ideologies and general outlook towards life. The groom emphasized that only a registered marriage was acceptable and also not to expect anything to do with religion or traditions.
My father was almost livid on hearing a ‘court marriage only’ condition and literally walked out in a huff. After hours of arguments, discussions and rounds of family members meetings, my father agreed to the wedding. He probably succumbed to the fact that his rebellious daughter may after all never be able to survive in a traditional religious family.
But the saga did not end here. During the long interval of 9 months between our decision to get married and the actual marriage day, the hot topic of discussion during any of the family gatherings was invariably my ‘non-traditional wedding’. Few of the elders of the family, of course with good intentions, even went to the extent of scaring my parents that the boy might have some problem and hence this arrangement; few of them related many ‘simple marriage’ incidences wherein the girl was duped and the groom ran away with jewels after about a week of marriage. It was indeed a real testing time for my parents to stand up to be with their daughter’s decision and an equal strong belief in the boy himself!
Eventually we did have a court marriage and a lunch party at my residence, but unfortunately no photographs of the signing of the registered marriage. The then Registrar from Jayanagar III Block, Bangalore did not let us photograph the registration seeing the entire family present for the same!
Today after 18 years of blissful marriage, with all its due ups and downs, we have survived the non-traditional non-religious way. Now it’s my son’s turn to fight his battle with his two grandmothers not to go through the ‘thread ceremony’ the Brahminical way!