Marriages now and 50 years Ago

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There are reports that more marriages have happened during Corona time to save on extravagant expenditures especially on food & related ceremonies in hotels and gift to relatives.

Despite the slogan of “Ladaka and ladki ak saman”, the reality is; higher the education of girls, higher is the demand of dowry for an equivalent boy.

To compare with the expense on marriages 50 years ago, I am sharing my own experience in the early 1970s in a backward area of Bhiwani in Haryana.

My marriage was solemnized on 15 May in 1972 coinciding with the famous Muharat of Akha Teej. Like most of the families of that time, I was not having family silver to draw upon. I myself had arranged modest dresses for the bride prior to marriage (Sindhara) and for the marriage occasion. Of course, those were not much appreciated by my blooming wife of 15 years. We just purchased 35 grams of Gold for 3-4 essential items despite low gold rate Rs212 per 10 gram in 1972. My lagan-ceremony was 11 days before unlike one day before at present. In the Lagan, a traditional invitation letter with yellow chawal (rice) from the girl’s family used to be received through barber unlike the entire girl’s family now-a-days. However, I also adopted the modern time-schedule to minimize my leaves in my temporary service of Science Master. Lagan ceremony was held on Sunday and thereafter I retuned my school and came back home for pre-marriage ceremonies just two days before the marriage-function. A brotherhood feast (male) was organized by serving laddoos and pooris.

Next day after the feast, the marriage Party (Barat) went to the bride’s village about 50 km from our village.

The Marriage party travelled in a transport truck hired by us. Trucks and tractors were usual modes for barats of the general public at that time in our area. It was an improvement over the previous mode by camels. It took two hours to travel from my Village to Ranila with some short halt at Charkhi Dadri of the purchase of Desi Daru (liquor) by a few booze lovers. It was a hot month of May; hence, earthen pots (mataka) were kept for drinking water and even mixing in liquor. The party reached at 4 PM and within half an hour, the baraties were served laddoos, bundees and namkeen. There was nothing like the present dishes of Chat, Chillas, Dahi bhalas, fruits, several types of sweets,etc. To save expenditure, my in-laws had combined the marriage of another girl of the joint family on the same day with an army soldier. It was usual practice at that time. The girl to be married to the soldier was illiterate where my bride has passed 8th that year and she was considered educated at that time. There was almost negligible dowry viz., Just Rs51 as Kanyadan, a simple watch, gold ring and a cycle for bridegroom which were perhaps not equal to both bridegrooms. These items themselves were indicators of good marriage at that time whereas, presently an employed graduate teacher may command a dowry of car, AC, freeze, furniture; of course, extravagant food for baraties.
Our marriage party returned next day after lunch and Bidai.We reached around 6 PM and dropped at our farm as the one km way to village was not motorable.

All of us refreshed on the tube well of my cousin Amar Singh-ex-army man whose family was residing at his farm. His role had been instrumental in my studies and marriage, hosted diner to us. Thereafter, the bride and all others come to our house in the village. Usual social ceremonies took place in the night and next day. Luckily, no loan was taken by me, otherwise, poor people become indebted during marriage and prime youth of the couple is lost in repaying the high interest @ 18 to 24 per cent.

I left the house early in the morning to reach my school at about 50 km and she returned to her parents with her brothers the same day. The marriage was consumed after completion of her Matriculation in 1974.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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