A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Archive for June 2nd, 2011

When different is good..

Posted by Pepper on June 2, 2011

My friend’s parents are on a serious mission to find a suitable groom for their daughter. She is a Maharashtrian, belonging to the CKP (Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu) caste. Their biggest criteria is the caste. The boy shouldn’t only be a Maharashtrian, but should be a CKP Maharashtrian. I find something fundamentally wrong with this kind of thinking.

I am not against arranged marriages, IF they are dealt with the right way. If the girl and guy are given sufficient time to interact and know each other, are given enough time to make a decision, are given the option to decline the proposal without repercussions, then yes, I think they can work. However, I am quite against the whole concept of using caste as a filter. Aren’t you letting go of good matches by having this as your top most criteria?

Why are people so insistently holding on to past norms? They want the same religion, same caste, same community, same region and want everything else to be the  same. They’re asking for a replica of their own selves. Perhaps this worked earlier, because two people put together from diverse backgrounds would find it hard to adapt to each others ways and lifestyles. But today, the scenario is very different. Somebody living in Pune is working in Chennai. Somebody from Kerala is being sent on a project to Haryana. A Gujrati and a Bengali guy are living together as room mates in Delhi. Moreover, the internet is connecting us to every corner of the world. We’re all being shuffled, displaced and connected, and we’re all blending in to our surrounding, adapting to new cultures and deriving one common culture – a culture of diversity. That is how ‘Metros’ evolve.

Isn’t diversity a good thing? Two people with diverse backgrounds will be able to learn more from each other, compared to two people who have had identical lives. Isn’t that why so many companies hire diversity management specialists? It is because they all strive to create a diverse workforce. So why should we shun away diversity where marriages are concerned? I know my in laws are the kinds who will be very rigid about caste and would not want their family members to marry ‘out of caste’. During one such conversation with my mother in law, I asked her why they are so particular about wanting people from the same caste and community. She said because it is important for them that they ‘preserve their culture’. So does that mean when you marry a person from a different caste, you let go of your own culture? Are we really that insecure? I always thought it was the other way. You pass on a bit of your culture to your partner, and you get to take a bit of his.

I come from a very small community, which is barely recognised. When I was little, my parents used to joke and ask me to marry a South Indian because of my undying love for Idlis. Little did they know that I would take them so seriously. But even at that age they were never against the idea of marrying out of caste..Nobody even knew much about ‘South Indians’ then. For us, they were just people who spoke strange languages we didn’t understand in the least bit, most of their Hindi accents were amusing, and they ate idlis and dosas. Yes, we were ignorant, but the ignorance started to shed away as the years passed.

Today I look at Mint and think of how different our backgrounds are. We belong to different castes, communities and regions. We grew up speaking different languages. Dig a little deeper and you’ll see we don’t even come from a common race. He is a Dravidian, and me an Aryan. All of this does reflect on us, only in a positive way though. Put the two of us together and we can speak English, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu and smatterings of Gujrati, Konkani and Sindhi. The food is a blend of pongal and sabudana khichdi, of idlis and vada pavs, of kozhambu and paneer masala,  of sambar and dal makhani, of dosas and parathas. The music we listen to and the movies we watch are a blend of English, Tamil and Hindi. We learn from each others thoughts and experiences. We live in sync with the differences and we now embrace and love the diversity. Our children will be a rich mix of our combined heritage. And I think that is a wonderful thing.

So I don’t see why we are so averse to people who are different from us. Why caste and sub castes are the highest criteria for a marriage. That is just sad.

Posted in A penny for my thoughts | 57 Comments »

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