can't do you part
intercaste marriage is a myriad of sweet and sour adjustments. Unlike
same caste weddings, the differences begin to show up even before the
wedding ceremony takes place.
An intercaste marriage raises more than just quizzical eyebrows. Weddings
being all about tradition, customs and rituals, the differences are many.
By and large these are marriages of choice or what we generally call love
marriages where the girl and the boy make the initial decision to come
together in a martial alliance. There may be resistance from the parents,
making an intercaste alliance into a more complicated "arrangement" than
even the arranged ones. But then, customs or traditions are seldom the
reasons which can break up relationships. The differences can be easy
to handle if you mark out some basic rules for yourself. Especially the
bride who may find it unnerving to be amongst people who speak a different
language, dress differently, have distinctly different eating habits and
follow a different set of customs than what she has been used to in her
growing years. Naturally it requires a certain mental steeling of sorts.
VISIT YOUR WOULD-BE'S FAMILY OFTEN BEFORE MARRIAGE
One of the best ways to save yourself from a culture shock is to familiarise
yourself with your husband's family. If you know, for instance, that your
mom-in-law follows and believes in certain religious or traditional customs,
you will find it easier to handle the stark difference when you are in
her house. During your visits, take pains and ask questions on how they
celebrate different festivals or observe fasts etc. You will find, that
there are similar reasons and beliefs at the core of varying customs.
It is just the exterior difference. Often, different castes worship different
deities, but if you care to understand the philosophy behind the worship,
you will soon feel comfortable. It won't be very different from what your
mother told you.
It is quite intimidating to wake up one fine morning after the most significant
day in your life to find yourself amongst groups of relatives and guests
speaking a tongue that you don't understand. Of course, if your in-laws
are sensitive, they won't expect you to pick up a pen and notebook and
start tutoring yourself on a new language. If you know their language
and can speak snatches of it, great, but if you don't, its still okay.
Just be polite and request everyone to speak in a common language when
you are all together. Tell your husband how awkward you feel when you
don't understand a word of anything that is spoken in the house. Don't
let the language become a barrier. It is often not that way, because most
Indian languages can be followed to some extent. You will also learn by
hearing it being spoken. Meanwhile you take the initiate to use a common
language in the family. Don't get tongue-tied.
THE WAY YOU DRESS
It would make a huge difference to your habits if you got married into
a caste or a religion that has very conservative dress habits, but otherwise,
in India, clothes are the last thing to be worried about. Yes, you may
have to adjust a little bit on special days or on festival or weddings,
but by and large you can stick to what you wear, unless you wear jeans
and shirts everyday. Even that would be fine given the outlook of a particular
family, but like everything else, if they please you and are okay with
what you wear, then go out of your way, once in a while, to please them.
Wear a pretty sari or their traditional dress on a special festival and
they will be assured that you are not stubborn. In fact, you may find
it very interesting to wear jewellery and clothes that are different from
your own customs. Believe in change.
Okay, so you want your dahi parantha every morning at breakfast, whereas
your in-laws make only idlis and dosas!! Yeah, surprisingly food habits
are reported to be a real trying test in an intercaste marriage. Years
of habit and liking rarely change. Idli-dosas may be savoury to your palate
for a while, but you will soon start yearning for "your kind of food".
Also, some girls say that the different aroma in an unfamiliar kitchen
can sometimes put them off. The pickles are different, so are the homemade
namkeens. Besides everything smells so differently! New aromas can be
strangely alienating, making you homesick for your mom's kitchen. But
hang on. Can't you cook your type of meal off and on? Surely you could,
unless your in-laws are deliberately hostile. You could introduce some
of your favourite recipes now and then. Don't deprive yourself of the
food you love. Find a way around it.
LAUGH TOGETHER, LIVE TOGETHER
Humour has no language, no olfactory contradiction. You can laugh in a
sari or in a pair of tightfitting trousers. You can laugh if you are married
to a Tamilian or if you have decided to wed a Kashmiri Pandit. Loving
and living together has a great deal to do with laughing together. Cultivate
a sense of humour in life. It should be the most important homework you
do before getting married into a family or caste which differs drastically
from your own. You will discover a oneness, a sense of belonging when
you find that human traits are the same, despite the difference in pickles,
papads or the idol of the deity worshipped.