(A Wedding is a single essay that I chose to break into 4 parts because of its length. This is the 2nd part. The feature photo was obtained from http://photos.merinews.com)
A pile of furniture items, plus a television arrive the groom’s house. The furniture set includes everything: a double-size bed, a sofa set, a glass table, a dining table, six chairs, the TV drawer, and a beautiful wardrobe. There is a problem. Where are they going to keep everything?
The groom’s house is not that small but renting two other flats have made it smaller. The porters do a good job of bringing the furniture set up to the terrace. They scatter the items all over, one after the other.
Dark clouds are hovering close to the hills. They have not hidden the sun but the cold wind is threatening to bring a downpour. I look at the groom’s house. I don’t see anyone. I find it a little strange. Where are all the people?
A couple of hours have passed. The clouds have darkened. My mom comes home from her work. She is curious. She opens the curtain and looks. “Who piled all those? And where are all the people?”
“Don’t know,” my sister and I say.
“It’s going to rain. If the furniture all get wet, they’ll damage soon.”
I look up again. It’s really strange. There is no hustle and bustle. What’s going on?
“Before my wedding, I’m going to sell everything and empty the house. A part of the expenses will also be covered,” I say, laugh and roll on my bed.
“What are you saying? Why would you do that?” Mom and sister are shocked and then they understand. “To avoid this situation?”
I reply with a nod. Mom starts laughing. I laugh more. Sister stops me.
“What would we do with the double furniture set?” I ask.
“One set for us, one for you and your wife. Don’t you understand?”
“No, I don’t. Why should the bride’s family should give everything to the groom? And why should a groom accept everything he is given? As if he does not have anything. As if they cannot buy anything on their own.”
“This strange new custom is making things difficult for the bride’s parents.”
“Exactly! They are not only sending off their daughter, they are also drowing themselves in debt in their old age. If they’re in their youth, we can expect them to earn again. How will they spend the rest of their life?”
Mom agrees. She understands the problems but can’t solve them. Neither can I, but point out another problem, “The bride’s parents send everything with their daughter so that the couple can easily separate from the family.”
“Yeah, she has everything already. She has every right to use her stuffs. She can also fight when others use her stuffs.”
“Couples also get lazy. They don’t have to work to earn anything. They don’t know the value of the stuffs.”
As I was preaching, I remembered that Mom too had got some furniture and stuffs from her parents. When I said that, Mom said, “But I left them in the home (in Terai). We had only a couple of utensils when we came Kathmandu. We earned everything one after the other. We didn’t expect anything from our parents.”
Will I expect anything from my parents once I get independent? Will bringing stuffs from my wife’s parents damage my self-esteem.
I can’t decide. The bride’s parents love their daughter, obviously. However, back in their mind they have other issues:
- showing off
- daughter’s security
“Showing off” is what Mom said “the strange new custom”. A part of our society is always better off. They can afford anything. Another part copies them. They don’t “cut their coat according to the cloth they have”. They borrow money and stuffs. They fall in debt. They show to the society that they are better than that uncle with the biggest house in the community.
I can’t describe the feelings parents go through when they send their daughters to someone else’s home. In rural areas, parents cannot meet their daughter for years. In some places, daughters-in-law have suffered for “not bringing enough dowry”. The groom’s family beat, burn and kill the bride. In urban areas, particularly in Kathmandu, such cases are rare. Daughters can visit their parents whenever they want. And the parents send away stuffs even if the groom opposes. Still, they are scared.
They are scared that their daughter may not get the love and affection she gets with them. They are scared that the mother-in-law and/or sister(s)-in-law may not stay in harmony for long. In their subconscious mind, they have implanted a thought that the bride and the groom may/will have to separate themselves from the family.
“Parents should teach daughters to be independent,” I say. “They should not show that their parents can do everything for them. They should also focus on their family’s integrity. They should not provide their daughters a backup for separation.”
Mom disagrees a little on my last statement. “They are not giving backup for separation. They do it thinking it is the best for their daughter. The bride should also take care of the husband’s parents as her own and she should not boast of what her parents gave. Her excessive pride can cause separation.”
We come to the same conclusion through different routes blaming the bride and her family completely and overlooking the problems that the groom and his parents might bring up. In almost every part of the world, a girl leaves her birth home at marriage. It is etched as one of the most important gender roles. Accommodation in the new home is always difficult. In absence of good facilitation, the bride may feel excluded and the rest of the family might ignore her. Both result in conflict.
Right now, however, we are looking at the dark clouds and the groom’s house again. The wind is howling. Mom decides to help them out. She flashes out amidst the clapping and sparkling clouds.
Wedding expenses have always bothered me. More often in the bride’s side. Groom and his family too have expenses but as my Mom says, “The only real expense is on feeding people. Actually, there is a net profit.”
The party begins the day (in some cases, a week) before the wedding. Usually, the day before the wedding, a Yagya is perfomed. Relatives of the groom, his neighbours and friends come to his home and take the Prasad.
The wedding reception is the occasion where the expenses are maximized. The same people who attend on the Pooja above, come to the reception as well but there is a substantial increase in the number of mouths, main course, desserts and beverages.
The net profit for groom comes with the “precioussss” yellow metal and papers that can be used instead of the metal. Both the bride and the groom receive a good amount of gold from both their parents. They again receive a hefty amount, in Kathmandu, during the reception.
The groom’s house is now covered by beautiful lights, almost as in Tihar. The family is exhilarated. A Laxmi is about to enter the home.