Mix and match

At a time of grow­ing re­gion­al­ism, inter-com­mu­nity mar­riages bring the coun­try closer to­gether

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Nation - Jug Su­raiya

The other day my cousin, Ra­jiv, phoned to tell Bunny and me that his son, Kunal, is to be mar­ried early next year. This was good news. The even bet­ter news was that the bride-to-be be­longed to a dif­fer­ent com­mu­nity. Kunal him­self is the re­sult of a mixed mar­riage. While his fa­ther is a Kutchi, like me, his mother, Madhu, is a Pun­jabi.

In­deed, like a spread­ing banyan, our ex­tended fam­ily tree in­cludes off­shoots of sev­eral com­mu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing Ben­galis, Gu­jaratis and Sikhs.

Bunny, who is Pun­jabi and i, a Kutchi, can lay claim to be­ing pi­o­neers in this mix-and-match trend, as ours was the first inter-com­mu­nity mar­riage in either of our fam­i­lies. While parental ap­proval, from both sides, was read­ily given to our wed­ding plans, there was a fair amount of com­ment and con­ster­na­tion among Pun­jabi and Kutchi rel­a­tives and ac­quain­tances.

But what was a much-talked about phe­nom­e­non in those dis­tant days has of more re­cent times be­come a welcome coun­ter­bal­ance to the grow­ing forces of re­gional and caste chau­vin­ism which seek to di­vide the coun­try along lin­guis­tic and com­mu­nity fault lines.

One of the rea­sons be­hind the in­creas­ing num­ber of mixed mar­riages is grow­ing job mo­bil­ity. In ear­lier times, ur­ban In­dia, by and large, was a static so­ci­ety. Peo­ple were born and grew up, and in turn raised their own fam­i­lies, in the town or city that they called home.

To­day, ‘home’ has be­come wher­ever the job is, giv­ing rise to a new so­cial, as well as eco­nomic, dy­namic, in which peo­ple, mainly young peo­ple, meet and min­gle with oth­ers from dif­fer­ent re­gions, and dif­fer­ent so­cial and cul­tural back­grounds, not in­fre­quently re­sult­ing in a mat­ri­mo­nial bridge which spans such sup­posed de­grees of sep­a­ra­tion.

And the best thing about mixed mar­riages is that they tend to fol­low the law of in­creas­ing re­turns, in that the chil­dren of such al­liances are more likely to make sim­i­lar cross-com­mu­nity matches them­selves.

All of which helps to make In­dia, a true Union, in more ways than one.

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