Feature

India: Caring more for weddings than marriage

Aamir KhanThe Hindu

Indians approach marriage from the wrong angle, said Aamir Khan. We put all our energy into making a success of the wedding ceremony, rather than the lifelong commitment that follows it. Our weddings are world-famous for their extravagance—multiday festivities with multiple costume changes and never-ending banquets. The rich compete with one another for ostentatious touches like hiring a Michelin-star chef, while middle-class families pour all their savings into the event. Even the choice of spouse “is in some way linked with the driving need to make the day perfect.” A parent wants to be able to say, “My daughter is marrying an NRI [an Indian who lives abroad]” or “My son is marrying so-and-so’s daughter.” And of course, the parents are the ones arranging most marriages. They inspect every superficial aspect of the potential son- or daughter-in-law: “caste, home, education, income, bank balance, appearance, and complexion.” Meanwhile the person actually getting married meets his or her prospective spouse only once or twice. The poor bride or groom could end up stuck with a humorless bore, an unworthy creep, or a shrew. Shouldn’t we get to know one another before we commit? “Let’s not barter one day of happiness for a lifetime of unhappiness.”

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