Marriage As A Cultural Difference English Literature Essay

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Although the basic meaning behind marriage is same everywhere, it is actually practised in different ways in different cultures. Every culture has its own ways and means to promote marriage. They all have inbuilt rules and restrictions which has been followed by the people all through out their existence. So keeping the above context in mind, this essay focuses on the views on Indian Hindu marriage and different European systems of marriage. Emphasis is given on the traditional marriage practises followed by Hindu Indians as well as The Irish and The English.

Indian Marriage

Marriage customs in India is totally different if you look from the viewpoint of Western Countries and it might look more complicated that any other country, but even though its complicated, the Indian marriage life has been very much working very much for the Indian families since generations and the bond between husband and wife is stronger than ever. The love for parents also plays a major role in the stability of Indian marriage life.

Role of Arranged Marriages in India

In India love marriages do happen, but they are not generally accepted and to find the spouse it's not an ideal mean. The result of a man and woman falling in love can be defined as love marriages. Rather than love marriage it's mostly arranged marriage in India.

In India finding a groom for his daughter is the responsibility of the bride's father. He approaches the prospective groom's father about the possibility of marriages after choosing from the many available prospective guys. One of the most challenging tasks that an Indian father faces is finding a groom and arranging marriage for his beloved daughter. If by a particular age the girl doesn't manage to get married her father faces a great deal of shame. Education level, location and caste decide the optimal age for marriage. In India, generally a girl gets married in her teens among India's lower-caste tribal people and among India's privileged higher-caste a girl gets married at older ages after college.

Spouse is chosen for their children most of the times by Indian parents thinking he would be the best for their children, but marriage decisions may also arise from benefits their family might get after the marriage like for instance- Business relations, dowry etc.

The Role of Astrology in Hindu Marriage

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When the bride and groom's fathers have agreed to a match, they move onto the next important step, that is matching the horoscope. Matching horoscope is the deciding factor in 95% of the Hindu marriage in India. So for this, both parties give their respective children's horoscopes to the priest to see if it's a match or not. The medium in which the horoscope is read is called 'janat patri'. If there is sufficient amount of match in janat patri, it is determined that the boy and the girl are a perfect match for each other, and the arrangements for marriage starts from there.

How Spouses are found in India

In India a large network of family and friends of the groom are involved in the search for a matching spouse, matching the likes of not only the groom but also his family. The people of India are very good in keeping networks among various groups and also within the people of a particular group, hence once it is known that there is a search for a spouse needed for a particular groom, then word of mouth plays important role in connecting with potential spouses. The word of mouth may go along the routes of the different connections that the person has in relation to his friends, school, relatives or even business.

Classified ads in newspapers also play an important part in finding a spouse in India. Matrimonial ads in newspapers do not bring about much stigma in the society as these ads are focused on life time commitment rather than temporary romantic relations which can be seen in western countries. The ads in the classifieds are mostly arranged and categorised on the basis of religion and caste and in some cases other attributes based on education and profession, region or similar characteristics are also considered. Gossips and people that are privy to particular information in the society turn out to play an important role in the matchmaking process. This can be any person in the society like a Barber who often plays an important role particularly in parts of north India. Different people tend to engage in talks with the barber leading to exchange of lots of scoops that barber may know of through other customers and in many cases lead to the fathers of the potential bride and groom meeting up.

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Arranged marriage is the present norm in India and as a developing country it is seen that a small percent adopt the western culture but again it also is always arranged by families. Hence it would take a long time before love marriages similar to those in western regions would be seen in India.

From a Guy's Point of View

"An Indian guy, on sighting a girl who looks acceptable to him or what one may say as 'love at first sight', would not go head over heels at her and approach her straightway".  He would rather study her from a distance, and make an interpretation of the girl portraying as his wife. If he's satisfied with his portrayal then he leaves it to the parents. One tip some parents give their son in this regard is, "see if she has the qualities of your own mother; if she reminds you of your mother in several respects, pin her in your heart, develop a clean and sacred friendship and after some more meetings, propose to her."

          The guy would never try to date her, as in there is no point in him to date her because he already knows everything about the girl.  He has properly studied her and already has all information about her, her likes and dislikes, whether she's a socially active girl or very homely girl n stuff. If at all he decides to take her on a date, he might want her to take an adult with her for being socially responsible. And the question of pre marital sex is Never. Because virginity is something which is considered sacred and preserved by most until marriage. When they get married they start their romance in the life and fall in love with each other and

From the Girl's Point of View

Many young girls do fall in love with some  man , mostly as a result of the  'love at first sight' syndrome but she then wouldn't think in terms of 'dating' him but put asks her parents to get all the details about him and see if he's a match for their family. She wouldn't have any heartily feelings for him until the marriage date is arranged with Parent's consent. In most of the cases, a marriage broker is involved who is involved in the meet up and match making process of boy and girl. Once satisfied with all the required parameters, a meeting is arranged by the parents for the boy and girl to meet each other which is also called 'seeing ceremony' which usually takes place in girl's house which is often referred to as 'bride seeing'.  During this meeting, guy and the girl will be given a brief time to make up their mind about the other's acceptability as his/her life partners.  Most of the time, Boys like to have a chat with the girl before giving  his opinion, for this they both would be allowed into a room in the Bride's  house for a few minutes of chit chat. 

              If the guy and the girl like each other, then the parents take over by negotiating on various arrangements including the fixing of marriage dates, expenses, venues etc. In most of the cases there is an engagement ceremony to seal the alliance;  this takes place mostly in the case where in the  Girl  has to complete her studies or the Boy has to settle down with a good job or for some other reasons the marriage could take place only after several months. Even during this period, the Boy and Girl are normally not allowed to date but are permitted to see each other for a chit chat but always in one of the two homes. This is what happens in nearly 90 percent cases but the remaining rest possibly follow the Western ways and may have lots of datings and hangouts to find out their compatibility and in this process may even try out some intimacy as well. But experience shows that these relations are the one wont last long.          

The Hindu Wedding………

A Hindu wedding ceremony could last for couple of hours and is attended by a large number of relatives, friends, acquaintances and so on. The wedding mostly takes place in a mandap or a tent, which is beautifully decorated with flowers. Hindu wedding ceremonies can last for days and involve many rituals to be done which mainly involves a priest reciting devotional Sanskrit slogans which is done in order for the couple to get god's blessings.

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"Traditionally, the bride wears a sari with lot of designs and hand works on it. The sari should be draped modestly over her hair. The bride is usually covered with enormous amount of jewellery but it also depends on the social status of the family. Some of them make the bride wear more jewellery just to show their social status. "One feature of the bride's wardrobe which has become popular is the use of 'mehndi' to decorate her hands and feet". "The groom usually wears a kafni (long shirt extending to the knees) with pijamo (leggings) or dhoti (sort of an overgrown loincloth) or sherwani which is a long coat like garment. The groom might also wear a turban."

"The priest in this ceremony need not be an experienced priest. The priest should be familiar with Hindu weddings and comfortable acting as a master of ceremonies, guiding the participants through their parts and explaining the meaning of the service to the audience. There is no problem in the priest having the ritual book in his hand and reading from it.

'Saptapadi' is a very important ritual performed by the Hindu couple when they get married, it is basically a ritual ceremony to symbolise god where in the couple hold hands and circle around a sacred fire and light and it will give them holy blessings. During this the priest chants the slogans and mantras which emphasis the significance of the marriage. "After this the groom applies 'sindoor' at the beginning or completely along the parting-line of a woman's hair and ties mangalsutra (the wedding chain) around her neck. Both sindoor and mangalsutra are considered religious and as a sacred symbol for them".

European Marriage

There are several forms of marriage in European countries and each and every country has their own traditional methods and ritual ceremonies for marriage. But conducting marriage through a religious service is a must in all the Western countries. According to the Europeans, the secret of successful marriage is based on faithfulness, or based on adequate Income or even based on agreement of politics.

European Marriage Pattern

In the course of early modern times, the population of Europe developed a family and marriage pattern which differed sharply from that of the most of the rest of the world. This European marriage pattern was marked by very late marriage, by the extreme rarity of households containing more than one couple and by the frequent presence of the young unmarried servants. This seemingly unique pattern has significance not only because of its impact on the nature of family life but also because of its possible connection with the emergence of other patterns of modern western life.

Late marriage seems to have been connected with systems of widespread free land tenure and private property. By delaying marriage, young people were waiting to accumulate sufficient property before founding a family. (Often they served as servants in the homes of unrelated families during the period before marriage). This period of 'delayed gratification' was a primitive form of population control and a sign of rational control over one's economic situation.

By establishing a long period between physical maturation and marriage, it helped create the separate state of adolescence with its many sexual and emotional strains. It also played a role in the transition from marriage choices controlled by parents for their minor children to marriage partners chosen by the spouse themselves, many of whom were now adults parents had either dies or retired.

The English Marriage….

"The bride and the Wedding party enter the hall, lead by a small girl who scatters flowers all along the way until they reach the chapel. The flowered path and express hope for the bride's path through life to be happy and lovely. To prevent the bride from any jealous evil wishers from cursing the bride, the bridesmaids dress very much like the bride. "Brides usually sew a good luck charm, such as the silver horseshoe of royal British brides, to the hem of their wedding dresses". Old English wedding tradition also calls for the bride to carry a horseshoe, streaming with ribbons, for good luck." The traditional practise is that the couple exchange vows outside the wedding chapel doorway, so that anyone can watch the ceremony (worldweddingtraditions.com).

Traditional English Wedding Receptions

The English wedding is celebrated with a Wedding Cake and usually its fruit cake which is made up of dried fruits like raisins, ground almonds and cherries. The couple usually saves the top layer of the wedding cake for the baptism of their first child and this layer is usually referred to as 'christening cake'

"The fruitcake is served at the wedding reception along with another traditional cake 'the groom's cake' which originated during the 'Tudor period'. Even the groom's cake used to be a fruitcake until sometime back but now, it's usually likely to be a chocolate cake.

'Ribbon Pull' is a unique Victorian wedding reception, where in a sterling silver charm is purchased for each of the bridesmaids. Then a ribbon is attached to each one, and the baker places them between layers of the wedding cake as it is being assembled. So when the cake is ready to be cut all the bridesmaids gather so that they can each pull one ribbon before the couple share their first slice of the cake, claiming for herself a promised good future"(worldweddingtraditions.com).

The olden tradition of tying shoes to the cars of newlyweds also began in England during the Tudor period. Before this, the practise of throwing shoes at the newlyweds when they were leaving the Church was widely practised for having Good Luck. The modern tradition is to tie the shoes to the honeymoon vehicle. The English also consider raining on a wedding day to be a sign of Good Fortune ahead.

The Irish Marriage

The Irish Claddagh Ring

"An Irish bride's wedding ring is called a Claddagh ring. It is a heart held by two hands with the heart topped by a crown. The hands represent faith, the crown symbolizes honour, and the heart signifies love. The ring's motto is: "Let love and friendship reign"." (worldweddingtraditions.com).

A woman shows that she's single and she's ready to see guys by wearing the Claddagh Ring on her right hand with the heart facing towards the outward end of her finger and if the ring is worn on the right hand with the heart facing inward, then she is showing that she is engaged. And if the Claddagh Ring is worn on the left hand it means that the woman is married.

Wedding Day Traditions in Ireland

According to the Irish tradition, the wedding couple walks to the Church together before exchanging vows. Then the witness of the marriage would bless the couple with rice and sometimes uses larger items like pots and pans as well when they walk towards the chapel. Traditionally, Irish bride used to wear a blue wedding dress because it symbolized purity in olden times. But when white dress started symbolizing virginity and purity in recent times, Irish started using white wedding dress. The English Lavender flower on the bride's wedding dress is supposed to help the couple have a long and happy long lasting relation and also the English Lavender was a symbol for love, devotion, loyalty and luck in ancient times. Braided hair was an ancient symbol for female power and luck, so in present weddings, women can be often seen with a braided hair during the wedding. And St. Patrick's Day is treated as the luckiest day to get married in Ireland (worldweddingtraditions.com).

An Irish Honeymoon

'mi na meala' , which in Irish means 'The Month of Honey' is part of a custom followed by the Irish newlyweds wherein the couple spend a month together drinking honeyed wine especially in those cases where the couple married by eloping away from home. It is believed that as a month passes, the girl will become pregnant and the family will accept the marriage because of that, and the girl's family would desire her to live with the guy's family. Even today many couples follow ancient traditions mixed with modern values so as to maintain the traditional touch in their marriage life.