Most of the times, rules are formed after closely observing the best practices. Rules get amended as new best practices evolve. The proposed ban on the practice of Triple Talaq is also an amendment to include best social practices for the betterment of the women. However for generations put together, Hindu wedding vows have remained the same. Wedding vows are the cornerstone of any successful relationship. But, patriarchal values have always hidden under the guise of culture and tradition; wedding vows are no exception.
Why Should There Be A Change?
After marriage, the onus of duties and responsibilities lies more on the woman than on the man. Moreover, the daughter-in-law is expected to take care of the house and please everyone in the family. While women of olden times did not have a choice but today’s women are quite empowered. They do not need to silently accept this huge burden placed on them after the marriage.
Closer Analysis Of Wedding Vows
The Hindu marriage ceremony involves 7 wedding vows. These vows offer a glimpse into why married women suddenly have big expectations thrusted onto them. Discussed below are 2 of the vows:
Groom: You have brought sacredness into my life, and have completed me. May we be blessed with noble and obedient children.
Bride: I will shower you with joy, from head to toe. I will strive to please you in every way I can.
Groom: You will offer me food and be helpful in every way. I will cherish you and provide welfare and happiness for you and our children.
Bride: I am responsible for the home and all household responsibilities.
The Hindu wedding vows talk about the responsibilities of the husband and wife separately. These vows put the onus on the wife to please the husband, manage the household, children and don the mantle of the good wife. While the husband’s vows include generic statements about life, welfare and happiness.
Each vow from the wife is an acceptance of her responsibility towards home, husband and children that she must fulfill. But we don’t see such daunting obligations on the man. A woman is asked to almost forget and perish her entire identity which existed before marriage while man is made to feel as the master of everything. The big question is why? Why should women abide by these vows when they do not uphold her dignity or take care of her desires, wishes, ambitions and choices?
Is The Entire Ritual Wrong?
Answer is no. Wedding ceremonies are beautiful symbols of two people uniting to spend the rest of their lives together. But the fact that the bride has to go through a heart-wrenching transformation is just cruel and irrational.
The expectation that she must let go of all her individuality and be a manifestation of her in laws and husband’s fantasy and desires is wrong. It is purely a matter of choice. Every individual has her own identity and just because of marriage, the identity of a woman cannot cease to exist.
“No God can ever preach unhappiness for women and comfort and pampering for men. These rituals are man made for the convenience of men by men of ancient times.”
Times changed our beliefs but the same have not been updated in our scriptures & guidance sheet. In current times, these vows are archaic having little or no relevance at all but they are still honoured because it favours the set mindset.
Bringing About Change
Every wedding vow should revolve around the togetherness of the couple and all the near and dear ones. They should highlight the importance of love, care, affection, togetherness and honesty. Each vow should uphold dignity of the woman and man; ignoring none. No part of marriage should put the bride or the groom in a higher or lower pedestal. Games in marriage which decides who will “rule” the house should be replaced by couple’s activity to solve a hypothetical problem. Instead of making couple compete against each other to prove ones supremacy over the other, rituals should now make couples stand for each in case of dire circumstances. Traditions keep families tied together. But that should not stop couples from seeing each other as equals.
Where is the issue?
“That is how it has always been” is a poor response to why wedding vows and the subsequent expectations are the way they are. How is it still acceptable that a woman who works in a full time job, is financially independent, has nothing lacking in her but even then when it comes to household chores, she is the one looked upon? Yes it is the ancient belief system but a large part of it also germinates from these archaic wedding vows which sets the skewed tone of marriage from the beginning.
In such a huge country like India, there is a very small percentage of families that give their daughters in law the same freedom they would give their sons and daughters. Our parents are old now to understand these changes, they will not. But we are the flag bearers of the future and we can decide how will our future social systems be.
Our traditions are what keep us together as a society. But with changing times, some traditions need change as well. Wedding vows should be between two partners, signifying love and respect. They should not be an outline of duties. A little tweak here, a little tweak in the mindset, and we are on our way to becoming an equal society.
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