Marriage has Become a Private Affair

Are the Nepalis on the royal road to modernization?

By Vishnu Basnet

Most of us agree with Clifford Geertz that ‘ something is happening to the way we think about the way we think’. Yes, change changes not only in circumference but also in the center. The spectacles through which we perceive also wear out along with the change of time. So, we put on new ones and begin to see things differently. But, we see things taking a different turn in Nepal. So strong is Manu’s law of caste system that that MAN still casts his shadow beyond his grave. Untouchables are not still allowed to enter temples (lets forget their human and economic backwardness for the time being), and marriage rarely takes place between people from different castes. Of course change is happening, but only at a snail’s pace.

Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of the matter I am relating to you. After rejecting a number of good-looking and good-earning guys, my sister suddenly declared a few weeks back that she had a beau and wanted to get married with him. It was good news for us all, for she had not desired to remain a spinster. But, the problem arose as soon as she confessed that the guy was from a Brahmin family. As my mamma turned her down all at once, she slinked away to her room, breaking into tears.

Things developed without any development. She put up with scathing criticism from everybody in the house, but she did not give in. Ultimately, I took the matter in my own hand: took the lovebirds to a nearby temple, put Tikas on their foreheads and wished them to live happily thereafter. I was surprised that they were having affairs for twelve years, splashing cold water on the face (borrowing Deepak’s phrase) of some Pundits (scientists), who interpret the impulse of human love as a chemical reaction which, according to them, doesn’t last more than 28 months.

What this trifle event indicates at a large scale is the modernization of Nepali culture. Evils should be driven out if there are any. It is not the whole story, however. We are immersed neck-deep in rock ‘n’ roll on the one hand, but we don’t allow the untouchables to enter our kitchens on the other. All these facts show that we are being westernized without being modern.

Raymond William defined culture as “one of the two or three most complicated words in the English language”. But, we are misled if we take things along Huntingtonian line that culture can be defined solely in terms of language and religion. This will be nothing other than a Whiteman’s deception, which will render others as ‘Whitemen’s niggers’. We are shamelessly adopting western culture, and we have become slave to globalization and consumerism. “Your culture is in the museum”, a European told me recently, and yes, he was partly true. The tentacle of Coca-colaizing and Macdonaldizing has already spread its gripe in Nepal. I gulp down a bottle of Coca-cola in one moment and vomit out the significance of Nepali culture in another.

2 Comments »

“impulse of human love as a chemical reaction which, according to them, doesn’t last more than 28 months”.

28 months?? Gee are you kidding me? The ‘chemistry’ you’re talking about doesn’t last more than a few days… :S I’d call myself lucky if it did.

Good that you’re breaking the trend. We’ve to start somewhere; if not us, who will? Good job.

Comment by Blogbahini — 5/7/2005 @ 9:41 am

Blogbahiniji, I am in dilemma whether I support fact or belief. It is miserable to live with facts alone. But now, the number of people believing in fact is increasing, and if a sizeable population begins to believe in fact it again becomes BELIEF, and quite easy to support. So, now, I have to support this fact/belief about LOVE( at least we two here support it). The fact is that Machiavelli( spelling confusion) and power have become the same in the modern world. But, still I am in dillema whether I support belief or fact. Now, at least there is BODHI to support you( On Suvechha’s article). As, the number is increasing, and I have to support you. Again, Democracy believes in MAJORITY, and I have heard that sometimes all the fools are at one side( lets say they are made fools by capitalists who take contro over “ideaology” (in Marxian term) through media( it is not my view), though I am not a RED). Do you also believe this fact/fiction/belief? I am frequently haunted by Hamletian dilemma: to be and not to be.

Comment by Vishu — 5/7/2005 @ 10:24 am

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Pioneering blog from Nepal...since 2004.