Friday, December 3, 2010

The "Secular" Traditions: Indian Marriage


A wedding ceremony or a festive jubilation in India are the best places where one can find the deep roots of harmony along with the shared traditions of various communities and cultures bonded together.

No community in India can claim the cultural homogeneity for itself as one or the other tradition they follow may have been inherited from others and with the time have become the integral part of our jubilations at various occasions, including festivals and marriages.

For instance, the rituals of Mehndi are followed by most of the Indians, irrespective of their caste, religion, or ethnicity at their matrimonial delight. Mehndi ceremony has emerged as one of the most important pre-wedding ritual, a funfilled delight mainly observed at bride's family. Although originated in ancient India, the art of decorating skin can be found all over the world, but not as ceremonious as in Indian subcontinent.

“In India, Pakistan and Bangladesh mehandi has achieved the status of a saced rite that is inevitable, interestingly no Arab marriage celebrates mehndi, where Islam claims its origination”, says Naqi Mehdi a scholar. “The celebrations have come up in the present form by the intermixing of cultural values of the Persians, Indians and later with turks and Arabs, who had migrated to India he adds.

Intersetingly the tradition has strenthened the secular fabric of India,often boasted as the Ganga Jamuni Tahzeeb. Signifying the strenghth of love, mehndi is not the only tradition that is being shares across the communities.

“The rituels of Haldi, the Choori pahnai , Muh dikhai, Joota churai and much more to count , Indian marriages are celebrated more or less on the same pattern”, says Avnita Singhal, a social worker. “I was attending my friend’s marriage who is a Muslim, and I was ammused to see that everything happening was more or less similar to ours with minor alterations”, she says.

Not only the marriages, the festive jubilations also have much alikes that can confuse anyone to take the one festivel as other.The fireworks, sweet distribution and the gatherings of Shab e Barat can be placed with that of Diwali without much changes to observe. Similary Nauroz clebrations among the Parsi families and also the Muslims who claim their Iranian origin are almost that of Holi where colors and sweets add values to the festive mood.

“We can not change our past, including our shared heritage and cultural values as we have lived together for years and have shared all our good and bad with each other”, says Dr. Kamlesh Mahajan, a Professor in socilogy. “ It is not fair to call them a Hindu ritual or Muslim ritual, rather they are our very own Indian ritual, she adds.

The crossbonding is so evident that the search for origination is like searching a needle in the straw heap. Interestingly, no one bothers about it, and just want to enjoy the traditions.

“I don’t want to discuss, from where the traditions have come in but as far as they add colors to the celebrations, and didn’t voilate the norms of society, law and religion, they must be accepted openheartedly”, says Maulana Mahzar Abidi, a cleric. “If a ritual itself has shedded its communal identity, who are we to paint it in the name of a religion”,

The tones of Maulana Mahzar are also carried in the voice of Pandit Ramnath Sharma, a poet, who believes that religion and customs, although seem to be integral but have very less to do with each other, and says “We are human and the entire development we notice is the joint venture of humanity and not the race. It is our strength as a specie that we are the superior of all races and as Indian, the best from rest of the world“.

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