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Tis the season to get “marry”ed… again

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While tis the season to be merry, winter is also marriage or “shadi” season in India! The temperatures cool and ‘phorun’ (foreign) relatives descend. Peacock bright wedding finery is donned, jewellery polished and coloured envelops stuffed with cash plus one rupee for good luck.

Wedding puja (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

Wedding puja (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

In a true sign of the times, the family wedding we attended on the weekend was 2nd time around for two siblings. All four experienced wedding, divorce and were taking a leap of faith to wed again. The brother and sister decided to tie the knot with their respective loves on the same day, keeping the ceremonies short, sweet and restricted to family.

Brother's wedding (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

Brother’s wedding (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

Also in keeping with ‘modern’ India, these ‘love marriages’ cut across caste and religion. Yet with a clear ‘nod’ to the traditions of the Gujarati Hindu siblings, there was a formal ceremony with the pandit doing double duty with two feras‘ (fire ceremonies) in one day.

Pundit taking a break between shadis (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

Pundit taking a break (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

After walking around the fire and exchanging garlands, time to feed one’s beloved prasad. And then feed and feed all the guests. Feasting at marriages is a universal phenomenon!

Sister's Wedding (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

Sister’s Wedding (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

The day before I met a young man just starting to date an unconventional young friend of mine. He shared how his sister living in Canada was abused by her husband and eventually went “enough is enough” and divorced. He said how his sister felt she could not return to India as there would be too much gossip and had no intentions to marry again – in fact many in their community were not even aware of her divorce.

To say I was incredulous and a bit gobsmacked is putting it mildly. The world I’m lucky enough to inhabit not only supported closing one chapter (a 15 year marriage) but also fully supports opening a new chapter (partnership with a wonderful man – living together here in Mumbai).

The bride (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

The bride (Photo: Carissa Hickling)

I’m proud these two couples today were not held back by such hesitations – while marriage isn’t for everyone – why not have a ‘2nd chance’ at being happy?! And if it is important to you and your family to solemnize it with marriage – then go for it.

So Marry Christmas and Happy Shadis to one and all this season!



  1. A friend of mine got divorced a year ago and her mother still doesn’t know. They are Filipino. A housemate of mine in London, a Malaysian Sikh of Indian descent, met a lovely young woman (of Indian descent) he was potentially interested in, but immediately discounted the possibility of forming a relationship the minute he found out she was divorced. And he was by no means an ‘arsehole’.

    • Pity, eh? I don’t get it – families tend to know things aren’t exactly ‘hunky dory’ even if the people concerned think its been concealed.

      Its not just India as you appreciate – the whole catholic thing can get in the way… not just divorce but annulments too before contemplating a 2nd kick at marital bliss!

      Guess I’m biased – my great grandmother got divorced and remarried at a point when such things were truly quite scandalous!!

  2. sarahinguangzhou says:

    Really interesting!
    Actually for older British people sometimes divorce is still not accepted. I used to be the weirdo who never got married, but since then a lot of my cousins have got divorces and such so I’m not so weird anymore.

    • Haha! Not weird at all – have oodles of company in all parts of the world. 🙂

      My partner’s brother’s wife was just remarking last night how for ‘the next generation’ (she sez looking over at her grown son) the concept of being married and living with the SAME PERSON for 25+ years will be an anachronism.

      The irony is there was apparently a bit of resistance initially from her mother-in-law-to-be to their marriage as she was divorced, with a daughter, not Anglo-Indian and from Nairobi.

      Add a couple of decades and not only is all fine, she’s the darling of the family whose visits to India are eagerly awaited! 🙂

  3. vidamanejo says:

    It makes you think about how hard it is to break cultural taboos no matter how liberated you think you are. I look forward to such wonderful posts! Thanks for sharing.

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