‘Paraya dhan’ is deep-rooted in the Indian family’s psyche, even in this day and age of nuclear families and the few-but-definite number of househusbands. We talk about getting a woman ‘married off‘. Is it still not possible to visualise a world where the woman is not required to sever all relationships to her past, after marriage?

How about this practice of changing a woman’s name? I think that has its basis in starting a ‘new life’ too. You can take away a person’s name, identity, relationships…but you can’t take away their memories. I think its a barbaric practice to force a person to cut out their entire past life as if it were a gangarenous limb.

A friend of mine is getting married. This engineer-MBA, employed in one of the top companies in the country is going to throw up her job and a life that has taken 26 years to build, to move across the world with a person she’s met a few times. Her engagement had her all decked up and showered with jewellery and clothes. Is that supposed to be the consolation prize? Her parents flitted about nervously through the entire function….ladki ke maa-baap hai, after all. What annoyed me the most was that her fiance was not present…was not even expected to be. Of course the ritual would have to be a religious thing built around the woman. And of course ‘Mr.Right’ took the time to wish her on the phone. With great effort I managed to restrain myself from inquiring whether she was geting married to a photograph and a SMS.

It annoys me to no end, such questions as “Does she cook? Is she respectful to elders?” Cooking is an essential survival skill and while I’m glad I can manage for myself, I don’t profess an undying love for this activity. Is is a given then that to be a woman, one must love such ‘householdy’ tasks? And how about I turn around and ask the men if they can cook? That question doesnt’ appear to go down well. Apparantly the so-called eligible bachelors with their degrees and payslips and green cards are still waiting for Ms.Perfect HouseMaid.

I’m angry. An angry young woman. Perhaps I won’t change a single thing in the system in my lifetime. But damned if I’ll go down without a fight.

10 thoughts on “Holy Matrimony, Holy Womanhood”
  1. I can cook. Thats the first thing that will go down on my matrimonial resume. πŸ˜€ But then, does my wife to be have a green card? High paying job? A Ph.D? Would that question go down well with the womenkind (rather, parents of the woman)? Unfortunately women are married off to men on basis of these things (there are exceptions). Parents look for a guy with security. The day they start looking for guys who can cook, the world will change. Its a simple supply-demand logic which people like us are trying to change. Unfortunately (or fortunately) Rome was not built in a day.

    “Caesar would not be a wolf but for the fact that he knows the Romans to be sheep”

    Yup, stop being the sheep and others will stop being a wolf.

  2. The name changing thing irks me to no end. Why would i go ahead and change the name that I have bourne all my life – all my certificates bear the name and then suddenly take on a stanger’s name? It sucks. Cooking – well yeah if you are marrying a girl for her cooking, might as well employ a cook, but then a wife would be a free cook.
    My sister is not changing her surname when she shall be getting married – it created a few issues but she stood firm.

  3. Nothing could be said to justify what you talk about, and it continues to this day. But there is hope yet.. reasonable hope. Most of the current generation seem to look for the same things in a woman that she would look for in a man.
    About name changes, sad but true, patriarchal families have followed this practice. It would be ideal if both genders modified last names, just so an offspring would not have to deal with the confusion of two last names!
    You don’t have to go down fighting, just keep your last name too πŸ˜‰

  4. This is very sad Smithy, but very true, not only in India but in most countries. I think that is all up to you, it’s your choice. You choose to leave your life and even your own self when you decide WHO to marry. Luckily, you don’t just go with the flow, you’re an intelligent woman who will be very careful of choosing a life partner that understands that fully respects your ideas and doesn’t want to change you a bit.

  5. @modified:
    “marrying a good looking homely wife will not be good if she does not respect your thinking, views…….. ”

    Frankly, marrying any wife will not be good, irrespective of her respect.

    But yes, marrying someone who would make a good looking homely wife will not be good if she does not respect your thinking, views.


  6. Now I could swear when I left that comment, there was a comment by Modified which I was replying to. Now that comment is gone.
    Smithy, your blog eating up comments or am I drinking too much?

  7. i don’t think i can change the world, i’m not even trying to, but just trying to change my little world. u are right, i would be damned if i go down without a fight. even if this means my father in law calling me a ‘feminist’ and thinks is a passing ‘fad’ to keep you maiden surname. can u believe that!! i’m not changing my name for anybody. i have much respect for my parents and where i come from. i am not going to change it for someone who has spent a fraction of his life with me. NO. NEVER

  8. what a big to-do over something so trivial! a rose by any name…? how many women are truly that- a beautiful bloom that envelops every one who comes within her environ with her beautiful fragrance? no man can prove his match by being a woman as he can never bear or breast-feed a child. so why this constant struggle to “prove” equality or superiority? So silly! If there is indeed a need for growth, let us “rise” above this silliness and find our spiritual identity. Even for a woman, she bears many identities- daughter, sister, wife, mother, professional, amateur, friend, grandmother… likewise man- son, brother, husband, father, professional, amateur, friend, grandfather… which of these identities are more or less? They all attribute to an individual at any given point in time and space. What is beyond all these or what is the leitmotif inherent in all these?

    laundry needs to be done. who does it and how are issues that need working out between partners without any exploitation.The key is being a partner raqther than being the oppressed or the oppressor. and that goes either ways- it could be either sex.

  9. “..from inquiring whether she was geting married to a photograph and a SMS” : well put!

    i really like your women-centric blog – linked you as soon as i saw it. way to go! πŸ™‚

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