Amruta, the 22-year-old daughter of Yashwant Nagade in the Marathwada district had committed suicide in 2018. The reason? She did not want her father, a farmer, to take on more debt to get her married off as he was already drowning under the debt taken to marry off the first daughter.
But in the past 15-months, daughters of farmers are actually a happier lot as they are not only getting married but that too will least or no debt. And they are all thankful to the pandemic to have brought about this reality check. Many of these daughters say that so many lives, of farmer-fathers and daughters have actually been saved due to the corona.
The lockdown rules have actually saved lives, not just from the pandemic but from such suicides too. The need to have a minimalistic wedding, a very low count of guests and very little spent on the wedding per se, there has been a literal rush in rural India to get daughters married off. This wedding season of the pandemic, as per many, has been the best.
For the past year or so, in a society where lavish weddings, a spend which was way beyond the means of the farmer plus a big dowry were the norm, there is now new learning. The pandemic has shown that marriages can happen with minimal people and expenses. Farmers taking loans for the wedding have come down dramatically, so much so that many daughters are now demanding that such rules of minimalistic weddings should stay even after the pandemic subsides.
It is sadly unlikely that this will ever happen. Lavish weddings are the norm for the rich but the poor want to feel rich, earn prestige by putting forth a wedding which is way beyond their means. This change in the mindset will not happen so soon; like many other things in India, it will take generations.
This might be a very good season for the farmer daughters but all those in the ‘wedding industry’ are crying buckets of tears. April-May was their peak season, especially after the shutdown of last year. Some 30 ‘auspicious’ days were marked and the diary of many wedding planners were booked full. Now all stands cancelled. They are again staring at huge losses – of money and jobs.
So, what we can infer is that once things get normal, very few would have actually learnt life lessons; majority will go back to living the way they did in 2019, maybe more so, what will all this repressed wants and demands.
Well, the farmers should make the most of this and get their marriageable-aged daughters married; not child marriages, which is also sadly happening to use this as an ‘opportunity.’ There are goods and bads to every circumstance – and this minimalistic wedding is a good thing for sure!
PS: If earlier, girls in the villages preferred to marry boys living in urban India with a steady job, today they are clamouring for rural boys as the pandemic has made urban living extremely uncertain and dangerous.