Dating and Indian Culture- mutually exclusive ?

“Sure, you can go on a date with him, darling”…said no traditional Indian mother EVER. ” You can do all this dating business with your husband, AFTER you are married” is a more likely response! Times are changing and Indian families are more open to it, but dating is still somewhat frowned upon in Indian society. Here’s why…

#1 There’s no such thing as a transitory phase between student life and married life

According to Indian tradition, life is divided into four stages*;

  • Stage 1: Brahmacharya (0-24 years)

Period of life in which students equip themselves with education, spiritual knowledge and values that they will require later on in life. They are taught to lead a disciplined life, concentrate solely on their education and to remain celibate.

  • Stage 2: Grihastha (24-48 years)

This stage refers to married life during which the husband and wife unite to perform their worldly duties, raise children of good character and lead a harmonious social existence.

  • Stage 3 & 4 are related to retirement and the pursuit of self-realisation

* The stages were created in ancient times and were used mainly to refer to males. The timeframes are only rough guides.

# 2 Young men and women are brought up to eventually create a household that is a microcosm of heaven

Indian traditions revolve around one central idea: the purpose of life is to be liberated and attain oneness with God. The wife takes on the role of Grihalakshmi (Goddess of the home) and is given a high status as she is the first teacher of man. The husband is the Grihastha ( God of the home) and he is responsible for treading on the path of righteousness while supporting his family. Together, the husband and wife worship God and create an environment where love, noble thoughts and good character are paramount.

Dating, for the most part,  is not done with the intention of finding a future spouse that is going to complement your spiritual journey. For that reason, it is not deemed necessary and is not widely accepted in the Indian community.

#3 All life decisions of an Indian are ideally made with the blessings of their parents

Dating is derived from Western culture, which is individualist in nature. Indian culture, however, is collectivist and this is probably another reason why dating doesn’t sit too well with Indians. In Indian culture, the family of a spouse is highly involved in the married life of a couple. In fact, some couples stay with their in-laws after marriage to support parents who are ageing . In addition, parents are seen as representations of God on earth for all the sacrifices they undergo to bring children up and are given ultimate respect in Indian culture. The inclusion of parents in  selecting a spouse ensures that everyone is on the same page and makes life a whole lot easier for the couple once they are married.

By now, you are probably wondering how in the world people are supposed to find a suitable spouse if they don’t date them first. Well, that’s where the infamous Indian arranged marriage comes in! Usually someone that knows the families of both the bride and groom really well brings forward the proposal of marriage to the groom’s family after identifying that both families are of similar wavelengths and lead complementary lifestyles. The families meet and the bride and groom get to know each other to see if they can foresee a future with each other.

With the added help of Indian astrology, which is in fact, more scientific than you might think, the charts of both the bride and groom are cross- matched to see if they are compatible in ten categories deemed necessary for a successful marriage ( longevity of marriage, good health, progeny, physical and mental compatibility etc). If they are, then the marriage is given the green light !

I personally believe that both love marriages and arranged marriages have equal chances at success, given that the marriage takes place for the right reasons. At the end of the day, dating or no-dating, we can all trust in the fact that we will only end up with the person we are meant to be with. Que sera sera- whatever will be, will be!

Do you know of any other reasons that contribute to the Indian dating taboo? Leave a comment down below:)

I am a 20 year-old University student living in Australia. As I was born in Malaysia, brought up in Australia and have never lived in India, I am no expert in Indian culture. However, my love affair with this beautiful culture has been running strong for many years and I hope to share my passion with everyone this blog reaches:) Happy reading!

 

 

 

 

 

Ornaments of an Indian Woman: there’s a lot more to them than meets the eye…

Gifts of gold mark every important milestone in her life; the day she is born, the day she comes of age and eventually, the day she marries her soul mate. “Keep these ornaments carefully, my child” she is constantly reminded, “don’t leave the house without earrings on or a neck that is bare”. She is young, and so, she rolls her eyes. “All these beliefs are so outdated “, she thinks. “What’s the point of wearing all this gold?”.

Little does she know that this precious metal is being given to her as a form of financial security that she can cash in on if ever there was a need. The elementary composition of the metal is good for her health and accelerates healing processes in her body.

The bangles she wears on her wrists are colourful, circular pieces of metal that are oh so appealing to the eyes of the beholder. She takes pride in choosing just the right shades, to match the colour of her sari border. “Too bright” she thinks, ” maybe I should go for that peacock-blue colour instead”.

Little does she know that bangles only earned a place in the Indian woman’s jewellery box because the constant friction of the bangles against women’s wrists would help improve blood circulation and conduct energy towards the bones, which are naturally weaker in a woman than in a man.

She runs around the entire house, annoying her family members and escaping as much housework as possible, all the while filling the house with the sound of her anklets, laden with bells. This ornament, she has no issues with. This ornament is fashionable even in modern times. “Even people in Hollywood are wearing it” she thinks.

Little does she know that the soft, tinkling sounds she creates as she moves around her house dispel negative vibrations instantaneously.

She ponders over which earrings she should wear, the options are endless. “Should I choose something simple?” she wonders,” my sari is already pretty grand…”.

Little does she remember the ear-piercing ceremony that was held for her when she was an infant. But her mother does, of course. How could she ever forget the shrill screams of her beloved child lying in the lap of her maternal uncle, as the goldsmith pierced her child’s ears? She will never forget that. But she knows that it is best for her daughter, that the position of piercing is conducive to enhanced intellectual functioning and that it will promote a calm temperament in her daughter.

Her mother has several more pieces of jewellery that her daughter does not wear. She is married, you see, and around her neck lies her prized procession, her mangalsutra. The strands of this sacred necklace represent the qualities of love, faith and trust that she and her husband cherish. It is a symbol of the committed relationship she honours. The second toe of both her feet are enclosed by toe rings made of silver. In that toe, lies a connection to the uterus and the constant friction of the rings against her toes strengthens the system that brings forth life.  She watches her daughter, and realises that she is no longer a child, but a young woman who will soon fly the nest. ” I hope she knows which ornaments are most important”, she thinks.

“I hope she knows that the greatest ornaments an Indian woman can wear are not tangible. I hope she knows that the most essential ornaments of a woman are her chastity, noble speech and pure thoughts. I hope she realises that without these intangible ornaments, no amount of exquisite jewellery is of any consequence. The day she knows this, is the day my duty as a mother is done.”

A woman of culture never crosses the boundaries of modesty and sticks to the path of righteousness, no matter how inconvenient or difficult the path might be. Such a woman, requires no jewellery at all and will evoke respect and adoration unasked. Such a woman, in my eyes, has the most precious ornaments of all…

What is your favourite Indian ornament and why? Leave a comment down below:)

I am a 20 year-old University student living in Australia. As I was born in Malaysia, brought up in Australia and have never lived in India, I am no expert in Indian culture. However, my love affair with this beautiful culture has been running strong for many years and I hope to share my passion with everyone this blog reaches:) Happy reading!