When I heard Kareena Kapoor’s character Geet say “Mujhe bachpan se hi na, mujhe shaadi karne ka bada shauk hai, by God!” in the film Jab We Met, I thought she was a little strange, but I could get where she was coming from. The idea of a marriage and all the things it brings with it – companionship, eternal love, and the Big Fat Indian Wedding – these are concepts we’ve all considered at some point in time, if not accepted or rejected.
Of late, more millenials are finding that they would prefer to not get married; they would prefer to be single all their life or be in live-in relationships. However, there are people who still believe in the institution of marriage. This Valentine’s Day, we spoke to eight people who want to get married.
These people want to get married for many varied reasons. Mansi Goda, 20, believes that the reasons why this institution first came into being still stand, and that it has immense potential as a support system. Amjad Parkar, 34, on the other hand, says that he is a romantic at heart, and that the idea of finding someone who completes him appeals to him. Ajay Maherchandani, 25, views this institution as a formal tool that makes commitment a little easier as a choice.
Soham Kulkarni, 21, employs the metaphor of a motorbike to explain his feelings. “There was this study I read that said that one is too carefree and ignorant of rules when it comes to riding a two-wheeler alone, but when somebody accompanies you, you get a sense of adhering to the traffic rules, driving carefully, so on and so forth. Maybe, just maybe, that would be my case,” he says. For Upasana Sasidharan, 23, marriage implies practicality when it comes to raising a family and companionship during old age.
For most of these people, marriage has always been a part of the bigger picture, even if the way they perceived it changed over the years. Amjad says that his “default setting was configured for marriage”. “Almost every relationship I’ve been in, I’ve been willing to give marriage a thought – I don’t mean that I’d decided that I’d marry her, but I was open to the idea,” he explains. Soham and Upasana find that it is the current relationships they are in that motivated them to seriously consider the option of getting married. Soham has clinical anxiety, and he says that his girlfriend is a huge support system to him. “To realize that a person wants to spend time with you, even though you are nothing but a sack of anxious thoughts, and they want to do this willingly – that was when I decided that I wanted to marry her,” he says.
Unsurprisingly, most of them believe that marriage is the “step forward” when it comes to relationships, for reasons such as its ability to ground people, expose them to different perspectives, and, grow as individuals. Mansi says that for her, marriage is a far off life event, and that there are several assets involved. “It has to be a practical decision even more than it is an emotional one. Just like in a business where you have to be sure you know the person well enough before you partner with him/ her, marriage needs to happen only if most of your goals align,” she explains.
Pooja Salvi, 22, however, has a different way of looking at things. “I think the “next big step” in any relationship is knowing that marriage is inevitable, and you both are comfortable being in that space,” she says.
While Bollywood and literature do influence how people perceive marriage, parents seem to have the strongest impact. Soham explains why the relationship between his parents guides his decision to get married. “I was born and brought up in Kenya till Grade 7. For seven years, my mom and dad met only thrice a year, and nothing could put a wedge between them. That was probably one of the biggest influences as to why I should marry,” he says. Upasana, too, says that her faith in marriage is solely because of her parents. “My parents have been married for the past 26 years, and it is beautiful to watch them love each other and us,” she says.
Most of the parents of the people I spoke to expect them to get married, but none of them pressurise their children to do so. Additionally, none of them hope that their children will get married just for the sake of it.
America is known to have an alarmingly high divorce rate, but it is in this country that twenty-four-year-old Aishwarya Nair’s understanding of marriage changed. She says that since her move to the US two years ago, she has met several couples with inspiring and incredible stories who have found strength in each other. “I saw how their relationships had made these people the strong, (ironically) independent, loving individuals that they are; changed them for the better. I realised that there was a stark difference in the concept of marriage between India and here. Almost as if us Indians get married for all the wrong reasons. It wasn’t an ‘aha’ moment, but I have opened up to the idea of marriage,” she says.
But just because they’re pro-marriage now doesn’t mean that they always felt this way. Most of them believe in the institution because they hope that they will find someone who can give them the consistency and love they need. Soham says that he now understands that marriage is not all sunshine and rainbows. “There’s a lot of work that is needed to be put in; there’s of lot of understanding and sacrifices involved,” he explains. Nainika Agrawal, 22, says that as a child, she bought into beliefs such as the man being “in charge” and the woman taking care of the household and putting the man’s needs before her own. “But my idea of a healthy marriage has evolved over the years to a much more feminist view,” she says.
With the talk of marriage, a discussion about weddings is inevitable! While Upasana, Soham, Amjad, and Mansi want simple ceremonies, the rest do have plans to celebrate this life event. Nainika says that she would like for her wedding to include more traditional aspects like the shaadi ka joda and rituals, she does not want it to be a crowded affair. Ajay hopes to have a an unconventional wedding at a location where he and his partner have shared memories, with a poetry reading session, star-gazing, wine drinking, and gift giving! He intends to invite close friends and family for this seven-day long affair. “I want to get married for the love of added celebration – it’s another chance to make merry,” he says.