| The Hindu wedding ceremony
requires a lot of preparations.
In olden days more than a month was spent on preparations.
It was a communal occasion of grand proportions and
a great deal of time, money and energy was necessary.
In modern times, all those leisurely preparations
have become an occasion to remember and some things
to be proud of.
A question often asked: Is marriage necessary?
Such a question was hardly raised in the recent past
because there was nothing like consent marriage in
the Hindu community as a whole. All details including
the choice of a suitable bride or both partners were
decided beforehand by their elders!
The engaged couple's opinion meant little in those
days. By and large such marriages simply left to chance,
did remarkably well so far. Women suffered more than
men in such marriages and the stability of our society
was largely achieved by denying any choice to women.
This caused a lot of suffering in the past.
The need for change has been realized by both youngsters
and their parents. Forced marriages are far and few
between these days. There is little room for such
marriages in the changing social patterns which we
see today in the Asian community.
Parents and other relations involved have to take
a generous attitude towards the wishes of the young
because social and educational and cultural forces
have greatly affected the ancient thinking. There
are men and women who opt out of the marriage system
in growing numbers and marriage is not inevitable
as it used to be in the Hindu community.
One burning question which remains to be answered
is -Will Hindu marriage survive in its present form?
The answer perhaps is that it ought to last with
modest modifications in the same form. There is no
alternative. There is a great deal of suffering and
social disintegration as a result of increasing number
of divorces. Husband and wife have got to work together
as a team in order to achieve their own material goals
There cannot be love without responsibility.
This is a fact of life and must be accepted as such.
The Asian social and cultural continuity must be preserved
in the western world.
Asian society today has accepted divorces as a sad
reality in tiny minority of cases, although this is
increasing now. Divorce cannot be allowed to be fashionable
Even in ancient times, divorce was possible on certain
grounds, but it was rarely possible to divorce a marriage
partner on some flimsy grounds, as it is the case
today. Indeed marriage was considered an endurance
test in our social life. It is sometimes hard to see
how irreconcilable differences can be ironed out.
But efforts must be made NOT to magnify small differences.
Forces which have no direct bearing on an otherwise
successful marriage often interfere with the personal
matters of the married couple.
So what does the future hold?
A well thought out system of social check and balance
must be worked out so that the society can be assured
of a bright social and cultural future. It is possible
to preserve some desirable traditions together with
the modern ways of life and infact the younger generation
are already doing this today. The Hindu way of life
offers a great variety of experiences and opportunities.
The Asian society has pinned its hopes on a stable
and fruitful married life. Our marriage system is
part of the destiny and distinctive culture and community
in general and there can be no future without our
marriage system. In tune with changing times, the
community must make adjustments, as a whole so that
new ideas and ideals cherished by the younger generation
can be accomodated.
Our ancient views and attitudes need to be changed
in the western world of different social and cultural
There is no doubt about the need for widening our
social horizons - Caste system can never survive like
the ancient times. The world is very wide indeed.
If we do not allow young men and women to widen their
social vision within the Hindu community, a social
disaster may occur.
We must therefore preserve our social and cultural
identity without risking stubborn adherence to aloofness
- this multi-cultural society we live in today offers
ample freedom to justify our existence as a social
and cultural group.
This part of Hindu life has stood the test of time.