Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Failing marriages

I went to see a play Dinner With Friends at the Birla Sabhaghar. The play, directed by Feroz Khan, was about four friends, two marriages and a divorce. It was all about the good and bad fallouts of marriages, the significance of marriage as an institution.
Today morning I heard that there would be a panel discussion organised by the Bengal Rowing Club on January 9th 2011. The topic - In the opinion of the house the Institution of marriage has lost its significance.
The growing number of failed marriages is a big problem of the marwari community which has about 95 per cent of the Club membership.
Traditional marwari community marriages were always a matter of two families coming together rather than two persons. Over the last two decades, last five years to be more specific, the incidents of failed marriages in the marwari community have sky rocketed.
I have a very different and personal take on this matter. The level of education among the girls in the community has risen steadily during the past 30 years. Like some other communities, the traditional marwari community was never in favour of educating their girls and were, instead, groomed in a typical chulha-chowki mindset that encouraged acquiring early skills in household management and adeptness in home making. Higher education was a far cry. When it came to the girl child and marriage, the thinking was Jis ghar doli wahin se arthi something that the women have been silently enduring and suffering for long.
Times have changed and it is a known fact that an increasing number of marwari girls are now better educated than the boys. The community has come around to a great extent and its members feel proud in educating the girl child. However, when it is a question of marriage and settling down, the chulha-chowki mindset still persists and women are supposed to be homemakers first.
Education has made the once-docile girl child aware of her freedom and rights and financial independence has instilled a degree of self-reliance in them. On the other side, the community that has by and large opened up to higher education and modern thinking, is still reluctant to place women on an equal pedestal. When it comes to choosing a daughter-in-law they'd still prefer one in a ghunghat. This is where the seeds of fissures, resulting from inequality, are sown and marriages go on to fall apart.
I think the dictum - bahu beti ek saman – is one of the biggest lies.
There is a huge gap as to how we think and act. The men folk don't mind going to the pubs and night clubs to shake legs but recoil into a shell of `tradition' when it comes to extending the same privileges to the womenfolk. The thinking and mentality is not in sync. There is a need to strike a balance.
If the marwari community is serious about stemming this adverse trend of failed marriages, it has to change its mindset that is rooted in a tradition governed by antiquated mores and customs. One has to accept the fact that the women too should enjoy equal rights and freedom in society. Or the other option is to stop the education of the girl child. But that would be like trying to turn the clock back.
ess bee

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