Indian families are firm believers when it comes to cultural values, family values, patriarchy, and as a consequence, I believe, arranged marriages.
So much so that even those blooming in love have to convince their parents about their decision before they can enter wedlock.
‘Wedlock’, wed and locked; yes that’s how I feel most women feel whether they express it or not, once they enter an arranged marriage; into a family of their choice or their parents’ choice.
‘Locked once wed’, locked into certain cultural values, religious beliefs, into performing certain customs which if they question and rejects for being illogical and irrational, they will be labeled as rebels.
As women we are praised for performing various roles and duties within the family. What we do in the family is more valued and praised than what we do outside the family, like professional achievements.
This is because our identities are inextricably linked to what and how we perform within the family – as a wife, mother, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law etc.
These are heavy tags with which we have to live. If we try to build more on the identity we have or we love outside the family, we are seen as selfish.
Time and again we are reminded of our duties within the family and how well we should perform them so as to please others.
During this whole process of inculcating (new) cultural values and performing them, the family of which we are a part of forgets that we are continuously performing and not living.
Indian families are built on not just expectations but very high expectations.
Children are not given the liberty to question the norms and it is because they do not question, they do not learn.
Children grow up to become blind believers in cultural values and religion. This however, does change in its proportion with education and exposure and young adults choose what they want to believe in even if they are not sure why, this speaking within the parameters of cultural values and beliefs.
When these adults marry and a new member enters the family, she is bombarded with rituals and customs of which she has very little or no idea. In her head she questions them, but dares not utter a word or she will be seen as rude and uncultured.
So on the whole, marriages in India gift the women multiple identities. She is to live and die with theses multiple identities and live up to the great expectations of her family as well as society.
There is no space for freedom of speech and expression, there is no liberty to question but to obey the head of the family.
It is very important to understand that the more we as individuals breed on and upon these patriarchal norms, the more we constrain our own development.
A culture can only be respected if it allows you to grow as an individual and does not obstruct the growth of your faculties.
If your cultural values are crushing and tampering your individualism, it is time to break the shackles and breathe free.
It is time to raise your voice and be heard because if you do not stand for what you believe in, you are killing your spirit. If you do not break free, you will become mechanical.
You will continuously perform and not live and later you will despise what you have created of yourself. You will develop a deep repugnance for your ignorance when your future generation questions and rejects these cultural values and ideas.
The idea is not to bind yourself with cultural identities but to be liberal in your ideas and beliefs; to free yourself from societal norms and evils that persist within these societies, and grow as strong and rational individuals with rational beliefs.