Diwali – the festival of lights, the celebration of the victorious ‘good’, the welcoming of the goddess of abundance and the change of season – is perhaps the most popular festival in India. Celebrated mostly by Hindus but other communities as well, it is a treat to see entire cities and towns lit with traditional and modern lights and lanterns, marketplaces and residential areas abuzz with the festive air, it is the best time to shop and eat, meet and greet. It’s a time for families and friends to celebrate together.
Preparation for Diwali begins a few weeks prior – a flurry of activity beginning with spring cleaning or even renovation of homes, purchase of new clothes and jewellery, and lanterns and lights, making of special delicacies, sweet and savoury, and gifts for the children, wives and sisters for Padwa and Bhau-beej (both festive days linked to the Diwali season and celebrated in western and northern parts of India).
The significance of Padwa is special in that it reinforces the bond between husband and wife. Some parts of western India, mostly among some communities in Maharashtra, celebrate Padwa, and it is particularly special for the newlyweds. The otherwise inhibited and awkward communities with respect to overt physical display of affection exhibit a sea change. The bride is made to give the groom a scented-oil massage and a bath with scented herbs as part of an elaborate ritual. Here the groom is pampered and given a royal treatment, that ends most naturally with a sumptuous meal laid out to delight even the most indifferent. Come evening the bride is handsomely rewarded for her efforts with gifts such as jewellery, clothes or money, which the groom chooses with the consultation of his bride.
The ritual allows the bride a legitimate platform to openly display physical proximity to the groom with utmost decorum, ‘mother’ him in a way to prepare her for her own feminine duties of nurturing, caring and building a family where she is the earthly ‘Mother Goddess’ of her own small universe. The ritual is a small reminder on one day each year that the woman’s role is that of the ‘giver’ in terms of nurture, love and compassion, and that of the creator and preserver of her own universe. This also allows the man a special legitimate day as ‘receiver’ in which he is reminded that he too is a ‘giver’ and of his duties to provide for his wife and the family. It also teaches him to show respect and gratitude for the care he is getting every day in material form.
Respect is a very important part of marriage – if there is respect for the roles of each member in the family, there would be no degradation of the family and a unit, marriage as an institution would be workable, and this would in turn lead to better governance at the level of community and then on to town, city and country governance. Therefore, it is important to build a strong family unit which naturally begins with marriage. For a good marriage it is essential to think through the whole process of finding a suitable partner.
Communities and local governments should find ways and means to support marriage platforms and disseminate the need for good marriage, finding the right partner and build respect for family structures. They should work towards supporting them, for greater harmony and a good community feeling. To do this at the individual level it is important to understand, give due respect, moral, physical and even spiritual support to the partner. Where empathy and respect are lacking, the marriage will not be a happy and fulfilling one, but one where there is a feeling of being burdened or tied to the grindstone.
So how does one get to finding the right partner?
Even before that, it is important to first understand what is marriage and what one wants to achieve by marriage. If it is only for sexual gratification, one may get just that and not much else … Therefore, it is important to clearly state, or be clear in your mind what the purpose of your marriage is – to visualise clearly what it is that you want, is perhaps the best first step. To do that, take a day off from your usual routine. Give yourself a holiday, expect this should ideally be alone so you have some time to gather your thoughts and think this through – after all it is a matter of your entire life and one day will make a huge difference to it. Make sure your surroundings are beautiful, choose preferably natural surroundings, and even play maybe some good instrumental music that you like to help eliminate the background noise if there is any.
Carry a notepad, tablet, pen and paper or whatever you are comfortable with and see what works.
Think of all the good marriages you have known and make a note of each of the partners and what you have liked of each one. Make a list of the good elements of each of these marriages. Correlate the people to the good aspects of each.
Then think of all the bad marriages and what you have not liked in each. Think of each partner and what aspect of their nature or behavior has been the cause of the problem.
The exercise will help you concretize what you want and what you don’t. This will make it easier to guide you to find the right match.
The conclusion you may come to is that while it takes two to tango, for a good marriage it takes two good partners, not necessarily two good people. So often we see two good people who never made a good marriage.
Think the process through so you get a partner to tango with and do not get into a tangle.
All the very best and best wishes for the festive season.
Feature Writer: Purnima Joshi