“Beta, bas graduation kar lo phir rishta dekhna start kardengey.”
“25 plus ladkiyon ke liye bahut zaroori hai shaadi karna aur ladkon ka toh thoda bahut aagey piche chal bhi jaata hai.”
Those are some of the lines from the great Indian shaadinama our parents, our rishtedaar, and more often than not our aas pados ke log start saying once a girl gets into college. Granted marriage is a necessary part of life, but we Indians have turned it into the reason for everything else we do in life. Sometimes we are successful in making our immediate family realize this unnecessary obsession with getting married at a young age, but the pressure exerted by our so-called society dooms it all; our families give-in to societal pressure and crumbles under pressure.
I believe the problem lies in the fact that we as society are not socially developed enough, despite what we may think. Indians are obsessed with marriages; it is as if the sole aim in a person’s life is to get married. It is completely understandable and fair on our parents part to be worried about our marriages as we are their responsibility, and they wish to see us ”settled” in life. But is getting married the only way to get “settled” in life? If we take a panoramic view of marriage-culture in India, we see that initially for boys financial and professional stability is a priority, and once they attain it, then the question of marriage is taken up. However, in the case of girls the entire concept of “settlement” is grounded in the idea of marriage. All the other aspects of life such as education, job, finance, independence are seen from the lens of marriage. ”In-laws job karayengey toh bahut badhiya hai varna kya zarurat hai’, a large majority of girls are told by their family elders.
It cannot be denied that boys too are pressured for marriage when they reach an “appropriate” age, but the experiences of a girl are completely different from a guy’s. The level of family and societal pressure a girl faces is a lot more than what a boy does. A girl is nagged about marriage just after her graduation; and in many cases even well before it. This is not the case for a boy of the same age. The gravity of the situation is a lot less for a boy.
I believe we need to change our attitude on this issue. We need to transform our thought process. There is a need to see things in a different light. Parents should give girls and boys equal opportunity and enough time to realize for themselves what is the right time for them to get married or even whether they want to get married or not. These ideas sound radical given our present situation but change will happen gradually and I believe this is the right way to go. As individuals, irrespective of gender, we should have the freedom to decide for ourselves. I would suggest that this culture of shaadinama should be shunned and parents should encourage their children to get settled first in the true sense of the word and then let their children decide the right time for them to get married.
I would also urge each one of you that next time your parents and relatives start with the shaadinama, try to explain and convince them of your views on marriage. If they understand, good, and if they don’t then keep trying your luck for no new idea is digested and absorbed easily.
[Aqsa Khan (class of 2015) is a postgraduate student in the Nelson Mandela Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution. She can be reached via email at: aqsa14[at]gmail.com.]