Gurulakshmi Iyer-Hait in this special one talks about the plight of those in her and her Husband’s family while the two of them were happy getting united in an inter-caste, inter-language marriage. She fondly calls it the Bong Connection. Read on and enjoy.
As I listen to the tunes of Biren Krishna Bhadra, I realise the Bong connection in me despite being a southie by birth. And when I ponder and introspect, I have a hearty laugh on how much difficulties both the families faced to connect me to that connection!
When I found my Mr.Right, I was in cloud nine unaware of the situations that might arise when we break the news of getting married to our families. While the role played by both our families in our marriage is really appreciable, few incidents are worth recollecting. Oh and did I mention it was a pure inter-culture, inter-language marriage(all sorts of inter applicable here). Yes a Southie Iyer bride and a Bong groom.
They say marriages aren’t union between two individuals but between two families. People preferring love marriages know how expensive such belief can be for them. Every inter community marriage has its share of dissimilarities in terms of eating habits, culture and communication. In my case the realization of the differences dawned on the families on the very first visit. While Bongs prefer different varieties of fish, my parent’s preferences were simple and vegetarian.
I remember this instance, when my parents, during their first visit to my in-laws place, were offered Mishti Doi in the end. They thought that curd was being given to finish the meal with curd rice only to find that the curd rice tasted sweet. Embarrassed to ask about the sweetened curd, they just assumed that Bongs prefer sweetened curd rice. It made sense to them that Mishti Doi(sweetened curd) is a dessert for the Bongs only after our explanation.
The common medium of communication for both the families is Hindi, one could guess the dialect and accent. If a Hindi scholar comes around while its being spoken by the families, he will commit suicide I assure you.
Differences were many. To start from, debates began with the Benarasi and Kanjivaram. There was definitely stubbornness from both the families. Finally a decision was taken and I ended up wearing Kanjivaram and husband dear was in traditional Bengali kurta. And the discomfort about what the bride would wear, a Mangal sutra- the Thaali-or a Shaakha Paula after her marriage, both of these symbolizing marital status. Finally I ended up wearing both.
Very few couple opting for love marriage have the privilege and pleasure of getting married with a mix of two different cultures and rituals acceptable to both the sides. As a tradition, my parents would not give up on getting the invite cards printed in Tamil. So it was really funny to see our names flashing in both the languages on the cards.
My parents almost fainted when they were told by some distant relative about the bringing of live fish as a ritual. However luck favoured us as both the families compromised on some customs that weren’t favourable to each other.
Bong marriage without sumptuous non vegetarian food is a crime. Ask any Bong, and within a wink, pops out the answer. Marriage and food are synonymous, go hand in hand, no compromise on food in marriage. Finally the menu consisted of Southie main course with Bong deserts and offcourse 100% vegetarian food. I just imagine the plight of all the Bengalis who attended my marriage and had no qualms whatsoever.
Trivial issues can create so many problems in marriages. Not to forget such issues are usually raised by some distant relatives. One thing that worked to our advantage was language barriers. There were so many trivial tribulations which could not be redressed due to linguistic barriers from both families. The grievances still remained unaddressed.
After all the overwhelm and anxiety, a connection was knit. And I name it a Bong connection…a hybrid Bong connection for my generations to come!!