Ever wondered what sperates us indians from the rest of the world. Well one of the most important factor i can think of is the sheer hetrogenity of the Indian Society. The number of races, castes, cultures, religions and cultures present in modern INDIA is probably more than the whole world combined. Whats more, every section of this humongous society will have their own rituals and traditions for every religious and social event.
Recently, I attended a wedding of 2 of my very close friends and colleagues. Now, ideally, this is would be the story of an ideal Indian wedding: Boy's family meets girl's family. Priests match horoscopes. Families congratulate themselves, invitations are send out before finally the boy and girl meet on the day of the wedding, all prepared to start a new life.
But the wedding I attended had quite a different story behind it. Boy meets girl. Girl falls in love with boy. Boy loves some other girl, so refuses to acknowledge the love of the girl. Gets kicked on his backside by the other girl. So comes back to the girl who loves him.
They decide to marry. Girl's mother agrees. Boy's family agrees. Girl's father cannot stand the sight of the boy. He refuses to the match. Boy and girl decide to get married anyway. Finally, after lot of pleading and persuasion, girl's father agrees and graces the wedding with his presence.
As if this wedding was not confusing enough, the whole ceremony that took place seemed like it was the boy who was being given away to the girl's family, quite the opposite to Indian traditions. So much so that it became a in house joke during the marriage. On top of that this happened to be the marriage of 2 people who belonged to 2 of the stingiest communities of India. Both buisness communities and both would think 10 times before spending a single rupee.
Hinduism and the religions springing out from it, are probably the only religions where marriage is seen as a religious duty. All others, like Christanity and Islam see marriage more as a social contract. And this was the state of the world and India till the foriegn invaders decided to settle down in India.
The orthodox and rigid Indian society began to mix with these forgeign cultures. And as time passed, Indian society adequately adopted western customs and traditions. Hence, even though Islam and Christanity did spread across the population, the touch of Hinduism remained a part of the Indians who were converted, voluntarily or forcibly. That is why in some Christian weddings, you see the bride wearing white saris while in few Muslim weddings, there are barats going for the wedding.
This palimpest like nature of Indian society makes us stand apart from rest of the world and in someways make them look at us with envy.