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The Idiocy of The Big, Fat Indian Wedding
by Prof. Shubha Tiwari Bookmark and Share

Continued from "Our Children are Not Safe"

The Third Episode - Satyameva Jayate

Image (c) 

It’s true that the national passion of India is neither film nor cricket as is commonly believed. Our national passion is marriage. People spend all their lives thinking about marriage, their own marriage, marriage of their siblings, children, neighbors and so on.

Aamir’s show began on a light note where girls expressed desire for ‘Yashraj films’ style of marriage ceremony and boys wanted their ‘barat’ to come in helicopters. Frankly,  all of us, Indians dream about that the day of marriage all our lives. The jewels, the food, the location, the music, the gold, and of course the ‘len-den’ (dowry) – different aspects of the ceremony are terribly important for an Indian. 

But this national obsession has become a national menace. Farmers, laborers, vendors and all those who cannot afford the extravaganza go on taking loans which they cannot pay back. Severe tragedies occur due to this.

A girl from Delhi, Komal came to the show. She belonged to a well-to-do family. The same old story that we all know so well, followed in her case also. Marriage was settled. Cards were printed. The date was nearing. The blackmailing began. Demands for fridge, car, furniture, foreign tours etc started. For fear of social disgrace, the parents of the girl fulfilled the demands. Somehow, marriage happened. But demands kept rising unabated. The girls was tortured. The parents further bowed down. It all lasted till the girl could suffer no more. Then came the breaking point. In the case of Komal, she had gone to the US. So, her torture was even more acute. But so many girls in our country are looted and tortured for the sake of an NRI husband. And the breaking point never comes. Girls keep suffering till they reach the stage where they can make others suffer. 

The show, thankfully, did not go linear.  It had interesting twists and turns. After another tragic tale from Kerala and an unsolved case from Punjab, we had a case of ‘pakarva byah’. I liked it a lot. The boy’s father demanded dowry. The girl’s father got the boy kidnapped. The marriage took place with all ‘haldi’ and other rituals. The first night came. The boy was angry. He ordered the girl to stand in a corner and not come near him. After all the adventures of the day, the boy was naturally tired; he slept. When he woke up in the morning, the girl was still standing at the spot where he had ordered her to stand. He kissed his fair, beautiful wife and as they say , ‘The rest is history’.   

Balwant Singh Ramuwalia also came on the show to especially highlight the plight of girls from Punjab. Punjabis have this weakness for NRI son-in-laws. About thirty thousand girls in Punjab are currently waiting for their NRI husbands to return or take them abroad. They’ve simply been ditched. A daughter-in-law is the best servant one can have. You don’t have to pay anything. The whole work is properly done. You can abuse as well. You can press the button, and money can also fly in from her parents’ side. 

Good examples were also showcased. An organization from Burhanpur has made simple marriage ceremonies popular. The way the old man was referring to his place, ‘hamare Burhanpur me kio ladki jahez ke lie nahi jalai jati’ (girls are not burnt for dowry in our Burhanpur). His stress on the fact that Burhanpur is his was touching indeed. And then came the true heroine from Mumbai, Rani Tripathi. She and her brother had conducted a sting operation on her would be in-laws and showed the world how money and goods were being demanded.   The case of north-eastern states was also discussed where there’s no such thing as dowry.  

As always the show ended with a lovely theme song.

It’s a commendable effort to touch the conscience of the people. As Aamir says that it is his way of fulfilling his social responsibility; following this program is one of my small efforts to fulfill my social responsibility. We urgently need people who say the correct things. Before the social order goes topsy-turvy, before we start accepting the crooked, the cheat, the corrupt, the pervert; we need people who can put forth the standard view. The beauty of the show lies in its method. Interesting presentation, concern, positive approach, unbiased analysis and a belief that things can change for the better- all these factors together make ‘Satyameva Jayate’ a brilliant piece of creation.  
Continued to "Our Sick Health Care System" 

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More by :  Prof. Shubha Tiwari
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Comments on this Article

Comment Hi Mam,
Went through few of your few blog's. Its nice to see the same temperament of yours as I had seen in my PG days. I try and keep following your blog topics specially on women. Your this topic about the big-fat Indian weddings is absolutely a truth. Who-so-ever is bringing light to it must have been himself or herself a part of it either directly or indirectly cause in our country marriages are a status display arena. So nobody wants to miss a chance. Still hope some of these shows ...might bring in some change.
I sincerely hope that my name must have rung some bell of recognition.
Still to remind you I did my PG Dipl in Translation while pursuing Psychology in 2004. I accompanied you to Delhi for one of your UGC project.

Mahua Datta

Mahua Datta
06/13/2012 01:21 AM

Comment Every marriage should be registered with the Ministry of social welfare. Photocopies of bills of all expenses should be submitted at the time of marrage registration from bride and bridegroom's side. While cheap marrages should be subsidized, ostentatious marriages should be progressively taxed. Photographs of living quarters of the married couple with facilities should be compulsorily made to be deposited. Encumberances of both sides should be listed and vows taken by all concerned that promises are to be fulfilled in letter and spirit. Thises have become the necessities of today's matrimony.

Sharbaaniranjan Kundu
05/22/2012 01:36 AM

Comment Dear Prof.Tiwari
I watch the show here in USA and then read your blog.The show is slowly loosing its appeal. Well, though Aamir Khan may be earning a good money from this show, yet he uses this oppoortunity well. The Hindi TV channels exhibit some inane dramas episode after episodes. Here there is something to ponder,some positive vibes somewhere.But yes it does not hurt, as Aamir proclaimed.

05/21/2012 14:34 PM

Comment @ D.K Bohre: Well done!
Don't forget the great man's personal life either--let's get his 1st wife on the show to talk about marital bliss--and then you can shed your tears!

05/21/2012 00:39 AM

Comment Dear Prof. Tiwari,

Although I read a few headings here & there on first two episodes of Satyamev Jayate, I could get to watch it the third one - covering dowry that is elaborated in this article.

I don't find anything great in the show. I didn't see anything that I didn't know before, in fact a few instances such as NRI story seems to resemble what DD1 already covered some 20+ years back, when there was only one TV channel !

Hence, to say that "But this national obsession has become a national menace", one must be talking about a few century of recent time of India. But the presentation in the show is as if things are pretty new !

I left the TV show after 45 mins, I think it is more of a reality show covered in dramatic manner. Just to harp more on long existing problems in more dramatic way.
And I guess the objective is not the social cause at all, the way Amir Khan seems to be giving advice on the problem in early part of the show is impractical as well, it is not to help people on the issue nor to rectify the problem, it is just to create sensation (and earn money & name).

Will he be showing something from Mumbai itself, his own home-mega city ? Will he be covering issues that belong of affluent class of metros in India ? (such as teenage sex among school going children ) I doubt, but probably he would love to cover an episode on honor killing.

If at all he wanted to help society & the nation, he would probably have covered positive stories, about people fighting against abnormally high challenges in their lives and finally reaching their objectives. That would have given inspiration to a lot of people.

But here, he is highlighting negatives in the society that is creating more of a sense of shame & inferiority than sense of need to overcome them. It does not help anyone, except himself gain some credit in the media industry and some revenue (of course).

I feel Nalini Singh's shows on DD covering similar topics were much better than these shows of Satyamev Jayate.

Dinesh Kumar Bohre
05/20/2012 14:05 PM

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