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