The Ideal Indian Bride

By Sarika Tainwala

A conversation overheard between two neighboring aunties: –

Aunty 1:  Sharmaji’s daughter Gita turned 27 yesterday. She is short, dark; she parties late night and only hangs out with males. She is too ambitious and has been promoted to Editor in chief at such a young age, and what’s even worse, she can’t cook and has never comes home before 11 am on weekends.”

Aunty 2: “My God! Really? I have known the family for decades and know the parents are cultured and traditional, god-fearing people. Gita has got them a bad name with all these habits and now nobody will want her as their daughter-in-law after all everyone wants a  “sanskari” bride, NOT a westernized and characterless girl like her.”

This is the plight of Indian women when they reach marriageable age. Their parents are constantly worried about her marriage and remind their daughters about the alarming stage of their lives. And thus begins the saga of a long list of expectations of a bride in every traditional Indian household for the perfect “bahu.”

Here are some qualities Indian society expects out of a woman for her to be eligible for marriage which is mentioned below.

  1. You MUST be a virgin
  2. Cooking is mandatory and is non-negotiable– after all they are looking for a full time “maid” not a daughter in law
  3. Habits like drinking and smoking? No ways only “sons” of the families are allowed to do it. You are characterless and lose if you do it
  4. Your friend’s circle must ONLY comprise women, NO male friends. After all hanging out boys is wrong
  5. You must be highly qualified from prestigious institutes, but NO ambition after marriage. Just having children and managing the house. If you’ve attended parties other than family weddings and pujas, you are “Characterless and have no Indian culture” in you.
  6. “Vrath” (Fasting) and “Pooja” (prayer) must be taught to you before marriage, it MUST after marriage
  7. You must be willing to prepare and serve dinner for the whole family single-handedly and only have your dinner after everyone is done
  8. Painting, craft, cooking, gardening, art, knitting are lady-like hobbies you must follow, anything else will get the family a bad name
  9. You must NEVER leave the house after its dark
  10. You are allowed to wear only “Salwars” and “saris” after marriage. Western clothes are NOT allowed
  11. In front of your in-laws, you must always wear a “pallu” (ends of the sari is worn to cover the head, as a sign of respect)
  12. You must address your husband as “Aap” never call him by name, it’s VERY disrespectful
  13. You must be willing to do “Vrath” (fast) for the whole family’s well being
  14. If you bleed on your first night, that’s the true test of virginity that you’ve passed
  15. The family astrologer must match the “Janam Patris” (Horoscopes) only then can the matrimonial union take place

Now that you fit into the entire above criterion and you’ve killed yourself proving it then comes the day to meet the groom (His family first! It’s not acceptable to meet the guy directly!).

You’re told how to serve them a 3-course meal (which you must say you’ve cooked!) and wear a salwar to look cultured and homely. The family arrives, they approve of you and you’ll get to sneak in a 5-minute chat on the terrace. Meanwhile, the families are discussing the “dowry” which will be given to them. A luxury car, some diamond sets, and gold jewelry along with a palatial flat. The whole deal is sealed, signed and approved! The wedding dates are fixed, and the girl is ready to be the ideal Indian bride!

(Domesticated girl + Dowry = The Best Combo pack!)

Please note–The above points are a sarcastic take on the way society views potential matches for their sons in India. It’s to be taken lightly and read for fun and entertainment.

Therefore, some steps Indian woman must take in order to change the definition of the “Ideal Indian Bride” today are mentioned below –

Stand up against dowry: Your prospective in-laws drop hints on the “things they want, like a fridge, car, gold, etc. You are an educated woman and must make it clear to your prospective husband, you are not comfortable with it

  1. Stand up against being judged on your morals and virtues
    Women must not tolerate their prospective in-laws and husbands testing them on their cooking skills, virginity, complexion, weight, and fairness. As a woman, you are more than your body and some numbers.
  2. Find a mid-path on the marriage expenses: Indian culture demands that the girl’s parents must bear all the wedding expenses and host a lavish reception, for the groom’s side of the family and friends. Brides much not encourage this, as it undue pressures them. Instead, the expenses can be shared by both families or a simple affair can be organized by the girl’s side.
  3. Don’t be a replacement to his mother: Coming into a new family needs tremendous adjustment for a bride, considering she’s been a daughter all her life. Husbands must understand this and stop seeing their wives as replacements to their mother, who’s just going to cook, clean, wash and bring up kids.
  4. Pursue a career after marriage: Women today are well educated and have every right to pursue their ambitions, as your parents have invested in you and raised you to be independent. Ensure your husband supports you.

Having analyzed all the above, the question remains, will this situation change? Truth is the traditional roles and expectations of the Indian bride still exists, despite them being educated and independent.  However, with a consistent awareness, impactful efforts by society at large and women, the change will take place. With access to equal work opportunities and status after marriage, Indian brides can lead a dignified life. Let’s all work towards empowering the Indian bride.

About the Author:

Sarika is a corporate marketing professional with 6+ years of work experience in Client Servicing, Business Development, and content writing with Imagic Creatives Pvt Ltd, Think IMC, Aegis BPO, and Air Deccan airlines among others. Academically she’s studied – Executive General Management Program (EGMP), IIM, B, Six months of Management Development Program-(YPP) from IIM, K, PGDMM, St. Joseph College of Administration, Bangalore,B.Com- Mount Carmel College, Bangalore. She’s also a voice-over artist and loves to gym and watches movies.  She’s a management professional turned into a writer and loves reading the romance genre and Indian authors. She aspires to release her own novel someday.

 

6 Comments

  1. Christina Joseph says:

    Good article. The truth about what marriage is considered to be in some communities it’s very sad. It’s like a business selling and buying their own children in marriage. Marriage is not instituted by man it is God who instituted marriage. God created man and added a woman as a helper to be fruitful,to multiply and reproduce. Both man and woman are equal in gods kingdom. If you dont know what God speaks about marriage and how to lead a successful married like. Just get married for one good reason let the reason be love genuine love.

  2. Sunita Pradhan says:

    A realistic view of the current marriage scenario in India, despite all the education and exposure. To be taken with a pinch of salt.

  3. Good job Sarika. Keep it up and I wish all the best in future.

  4. Good job Sarika! Keep it up. I wish you do better in life.

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