Eleven years ago, when I got married, the priest officiating the ceremony sat the moms on both the sides down said – if the wedding procession is late, if the groom or bride’s friends and family pull off stunts like picking them up during Mangal Ashtaka, I will pack my bag and leave. Nobody tried to pull any stunts at our wedding and the procession reached the venue on time. But then a few years later, I attended a wedding where the groom’s side was late by three hours and the bride’s side could care less. I couldn’t help but wonder how the priest who had officiated our wedding would have reacted.
In India, wedding processions are notorious for being late and it seems to be some kind of statement being made by the groom’s side- by making the other side wait to receive them. But how late is too late? And does anyone ever ask the bride if she approves of these stunts? Or do Indian brides too see a wedding procession running on time as an anomaly?
Bride cancels wedding after groom arrives late
One bride from Maharashtra begs to differ though. Hailing from Buldhana district of the state, a bride recently called off her wedding because the procession was late by four hours and the groom and his friends were visibly drunk when they arrived. According to the bride’s mother, the wedding was supposed to take place at four in the afternoon, but the party only arrived at the venue at eight. The groom, whose relatives were drunk, picked up fights with people on the bride’s side upon arrival. Wasting no time, the miffed bride and her parents called off the wedding. The bride married the son of a distant relative that very day. Meanwhile, the groom who had to return empty-handed got married to another girl the next day, claims a BBC report.
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This is not an isolated incident of rowdy behaviour by a wedding party, especially under the influence of alcohol, and it has led to wedding cancellations by rightfully upset brides. In June last year, a bride from Uttar Pradesh’s Pratapgarh district called off her wedding after the groom reached the venue drunk and then forced her to dance with him right before they exchanged garlands. Similarly, a bride from Odisha’s Sambalpur backed out of her wedding when she saw the groom lose his balance while approaching the mandap because he was drunk.
These brides had support from their families, who gave them the agency to back out from an alliance due to disrespect shown towards her and her family the groom and his relatives. They were among the lucky few. Most brides and their families swallow their pride and go ahead with ceremonies with a smile on their faces.
Yes, weddings are supposed to be fun and there is no harm in raising a toast on a happy day. But can being late for the ceremony by hours, leaving the bride’s side on their feet waiting, or arriving inebriated and then misbehaving with the other wedding party be passed off as fun? Why should the bride and her parents simply tolerate uncouth behaviour for the sake of being called good hosts? Or is this sheer display of patriarchal privilege on the groom’s part, letting the bride and her family know how they hold the power to make them wait and all they can do is welcome them with open arms?
The bride from Buldhana and others like her have set a great example for other women, showcasing that pride and respect have to be mutual in a marriage. Brides shouldn’t have to watch their families tolerate humiliation, or marry someone who cannot say a simple “no” to his friends when they try and get him drunk for the sake of his to-be wife and how she might feel about the whole situation. Perhaps this slew of the cancelled weddings will drill some sense into families and relatives who think a wedding is not a wedding until someone gets sloshed and creates a ruckus and the bride’s side gets cramps in their legs from having to wait on their feet for hours.
The views expressed are the author’s own.