|Judes Marriage: Oct. 23rd
A journal contribution from Sue while
Ashok is in New Delhi:
|Today Jude insisted on driving Ashok to the airport at 5 in
the morning for a business meeting. He also insisted on taking care of a rental car and
driver for me for the rest of the day. Jude then took the remainder of the day off to
satisfy the wishes of his family by becoming a married man.
|At five minutes to four I was driven up to St Xaviers
Church. The wedding was to start at four, according to the invitation. After a quick
perusal of the church and surrounding area it appeared no members of the wedding party had
arrived, there were no other guests, and no visible preparations were made for a wedding.
Even after living in India for a year, I still cant figure out when you are really
expected to show up to these social events. Eventually, people wandered up and some time
later a car with red roses scotch taped all over drove up. A bride in a red and gold sari
gracefully glided up the steps to the church. Next, our Maruti Esteem drove up at high
speed, and this time Jude, dressed in a light blue suit, emerged from the drivers
seat and walked with deliberation and confidence to the entryway.
|The ceremony soon began. Christianity merged with the
Indian culture in some interesting ways: the priest wore a traditional Catholic robe, but
was barefoot; the bride wore a sari with a white veil; the priest frequently gave the
bible loud smacking kisses for emphasis. Despite the seriousness of the Catholic liturgy,
it was a typical Indian wedding; people were talking, kids were running around and
yelling, and the only really focused participants were Jude, his wife, and the priest.
|When the ceremony was over, politician-sized garlands of
flowers were placed around the necks of the newly married couple, and they walked down the
aisle. The newlyweds stood together unsmilingly in front of the tall church doors while
all of the relatives took turns standing with them. Everybody took advantage of having a
|After the ceremony, came the reception. One of the virtues
of Indian hospitality is that if you are a guest, you are treated "as a god". A
young girl, who spoke English, magically appeared as my social guide and translator for
the remainder of the festivities. A Pepsi and a wedge of vanilla ice cream were procured
just for me. Several other women and curious children pulled up chairs and we got down to
a translated females only question and answer session about saris and western clothes,
spicy Indian food and about husbands and children.
|Despite the fact that the wedding was held in a Christian
church, the marriage tradition was Indian. Judes father had shown Jude pictures of
two sisters, and told Jude to pick one. Jude and Vinita met each other just once in a
formal family interview. Looking at these two people, you had to wonder what it would be
like to start off on a marriage with someone you didnt know at all. Of course, from
the Indian point of view, this is completely irrelevant at the time of a marriage. What is
important is the social compatibility of families in terms of religion, caste, status,
finances and prospects. It is assumed that with all of these other more important factors
in place, the married couple will learn, over time, to accept and perhaps to love each
other. Culturally encouraged personal qualities of acceptance, devotion, and obedience to
parents all help to make this possible. Theoretically, Ive always believed arranged
marriages make as much sense as Western style romantic marriages. However, knowing the
background of this marriage with the blackmail and heavy family debt the concept left me
|I asked Jude a couple of weeks ago if there was a way he
could marry without being loaded down with such debt. The family has several years of
loans to payback to the loan sharks for the sisters engagement party, dowry, and now
more for Judes wedding. Jude said one member of his community got married in a mass
civil ceremony but that afterwards, no one recognized the marriage because without the
reception, food, music and associated trappings, the couple was considered not truly
married. The young newlyweds remained solitary, ignored by the neighbors and community. In
an interdependent country like India this was a deathblow.
|All of Judes brothers and sisters, half brothers, and
half sisters, and cousins had several children apiece. There was one glaringly obvious
feature of the next generation of offspring: for every one boy, there were five girls.
Marrying daughters with dowries is much, much more expensive than marrying sons. This
family was not going to have an easy time in the future.
|With the veil raised, one could see on appearances alone,
Jude had scored. Vinita was beautiful: about 25, round figure in all the right places,
full lips, big eyes, and very sultry looking.
|The bride and groom spent two days together (including the
wedding day), and then Vinita left, to go back home to ChitraDurga and her studying for
the upcoming teacher qualification examinations. Jude reported for work and life went on.