Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Cultural Divide

I didn't think it exists...not in urban India..not in Delhi and definitely not around me, but it does and I seem to have only recently woken up to it.

You know I am a Punjabi Kshatriya (derived from Sanskrit ksatra meaning power, dominion, government) girl and I am about to marry a Vaisya (derived from Vishal meaning to live essentially merchant and trader community) boy with roots in Haryana.

Ideally there shouldn't really be a big cultural/ideological divide between the two castes. They are similar in status, both belong to Northern India and both today speak Hindi.

I realised it isn't as easy as I thought and that there still exists a big divide between the two cultures. Now I wonder if this cultural and ideological difference exists because of the caste one belongs to or are other factors such as occupation, social/regional/family backgrounds, exposure etc. more important?

The Problem:
I come from a very liberal family background and am really thankful for it. I have seen my cousins/aunts/uncles get married to partners of their choice ranging from Marathis/Bengalis/Jains/Biharis/Japanese/Italian/Tamilians/Marwaris..inter region, inter caste, inter religion.
I grew up in such environments and it has been such a blast! I thought that all my friends and contemporaries come from a similar set up...and most of them do.

When I met my 'Mister' he was so cool and open. I was studying in a Design College (extremely radical) and he in an Engineering College. Mister wanted to write a book and travel the world, make a short film and spend all the savings (when talking about future) on music and books and movies. We must keep only necessary furniture when we have a house he'd say..we were 20 then. looking at him I imagined/ assumed he came from an equally liberal family.
Mister is cool and open today as well...but I realised that his family is more conservative than I thought possible and this discovery came as a small shock. It has unsettled me. Please note that when I say his family, I am talking of his larger family which is conservative (they haven't had a single inter caste/love marriage in the family) and in turn it makes Mister's immediate family of 5 become conformists just so they can please the larger family. In isolation I think the 5 of them do just fine and maybe liberal at heart...but only in isolation and weddings aren't one of those occasions where isolation is possible. Not everything is as smooth as I imagined because of this and that is my problem!

Now what should I do? How do I come to terms with this reality? How come I didn't prepare myself for it? What is expected from the Liberal Daughter in Law facing this Conservative Reality? Why didn't Mister prepare me enough for this? Why must I feel like an outsider and the guilty party when in reality it isn't me who the family should be up against but the Son who didn't comply with their wishes?

Are feelings like these normal and every bride to be goes through them? Is this just a phase and will pass? I hope so! I would love to know what you think about this and if any of you relate to some part of it?

Oh and to top it all my horoscope says I'm "Manglik" (its not a good thing) and that is the material for another post!

ps: this post is in no way meant to hurt "to be family" in case they are reading this, its just a feeling and i would love it if you give me your veiws and feedback:)


  1. Kanika... you sound like such a sweet heart!! And you worry too much. Most of it is a passing phase so dont worry!! And weddings are always such a roller coaster of emotions and feelings.. not only for the ones who are getting married, but for their families as well.

    Dont worry.. you will fit in fine.. and everything else will fall in place. Start a relationship the way you want it to last...

  2. I agree with Patricia.. a girl with a good heart and a respect for elders will always do fine:)

  3. Thanks Patricia and Renu!

    its good to remember a good heart and respect for elders:)

  4. Hey Kanika,
    Respect for others' feelings is important... but its also a two way street. Its perfectly normal to feel apprehensive - in fact it says that you care about their feelings which is why it bothers you. Otherwise you would go ahead uncaring, wouldnt you?!

    Just a tip from someone who has been there and done that - start as you mean to go on. Dont start off by being extra traditional if you dont want to do that for life. Its best to be yourself, and to be polite and thoughtful ... but to not do anything that goes against your grain.

    all the best...
    the mad momma