‘Family values, religious sanctity keep Indian marriages together’

By Vishnu Makhijani

A strong sense of family values and religious sanctity are two important factors that keep marriages together, says Kiran Chadha, a former bureaucrat, writer, motivational speaker, philanthropist and adventure lover, who points out that 99 per cent of marriages stay alive in India against just 60 per cent globally.

She also feels that the pandemic and the WFH (work from home) norm can be a blessing in disguise “if everybody learns to share work and accommodate each other”.

“In spite of India’s different regions and religions, there is a common thread in Indian marriages that has kept them intact in spite of the institution being under strain in various parts of the world. To my mind, there are five factors,” Chadha, the author of the meticulously researched “Magic of Indian Weddings – Timeless Traditions, Sacred Customs” (Rupa), told IANS in an interview.

“First is the importance of family life. Second is the religious sanctity of marriage ceremonies. Third are the social compulsions. Fourth is the union of two families of the bride and the groom and the fifth is the legal aspect of age and progeny.

“Because of this, the rate of divorce in India is only one per cent as compared to the rest of the world. The word divorce has no equivalent in Sanskrit or Hindi. This was unheard of till the Britishers came into India. The global rate of divorce is close to 40 per cent, which is astounding. I again point out that families in India play a positive role in the progress of matrimonial lives of their children,” Chadha explained.

The book came about through her fascination for weddings.

“I find weddings magical. There is a feeling of overwhelming joy. All wait for the auspicious time of the saat phera, kanyadan and doli. It was the curiosity to learn, what is it that has held this institution alive for thousands of years,” Chadha said.

As writing became her calling after she retired from the government, she decided to research about the intricacies of weddings.

“Initially, I had envisaged a treatise on the Hindu weddings and only later, I expanded the scope of my research to include wedding celebrations all over the country to include Christian, Muslim, Parsi, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist and tribal weddings, covering the traditions and rituals from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.

“My endeavor has been to explain to the new generation that marriage is not just the big fat Indian wedding with more entertainment and less substance. This institution of marriage is a commitment, a lifelong commitment.”

“Each ingredient used, from the coconut to the rice flakes to the mauli, agni, candles, flowers bear testimony to the rituals while each of these symbolizes a belief, a norm or a practice. In all weddings, both religion and society play an exclusive and inclusive role,” Chadha elaborated.

What are the additional precautions couples need to take in these pandemic times with WFH increasingly becoming the norm?

“I discussed this with a few couples. For WFH couples, the lockdown and pandemic has been either a blessing in disguise or a total catastrophe. Space not only in terms of time but space as in the number of rooms a family has, played a vital role. All are required to draw on their inner strengths to be accommodating and adjusting. Where there was enough space, couples and children managed well. Others, who had to work in close proximity lost control of their lives,” Chadha said.

Writer and retired bureaucrat Kiran Chadha points out that 99 % of marriages stay alive in India against just 60 % globally. The word divorce has no equivalent in Sanskrit or Hindi.

Image courtesy of (Photos courtesy Rupa)

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