If you hadn’t guessed from the title of my blog, I’m Sikh, a British-Asian Sikh to be exact. Being of a certain age, and from a pretty traditional family, I’m at the point in my life where I’m being pushed to get married. And herein lies a shit-storm of issues. Being raised between cultures, I’ve grown up with a blend of views and perspectives on everything. But when it comes to the concept of love and marriage, I’m at a loss. In a grey, misty place where I’m not quite sure what I think. So I’m writing this post in an effort to somewhat demystify my own thoughts on love and marriage in clashing cultures. And if anyone can shed a light, (maybe a really strong fog light), that would be most welcome!
A romantic at heart, I always thought (in the back of my mind at least) I’d meet someone, fall in love and settle down. But things haven’t happened that way – in fact, that’s not happened full stop. So now that the subject of marriage is on everyone’s lips, I tend to duck, dive and disappear away from these conversations.
In terms of Indian culture, marriage isn’t portrayed as a Disney fanfare of romance and love. It’s a practicality. Traditionalists will see marriage as something you’re ‘expected’ to do. In the same way, as a woman, I’d be ‘expected’ to have children after marriage. And marriage is very much seen as a union between two families, rather than just the husband and wife, which makes some sense. But what really doesn’t make sense is the degree of influence family, society and culture can have on the person you marry. Marriage should always be a choice. But I’ve come to realise, you can be made to feel like you’re given a choice, but within very restricted parameters – in which case, does that make it a choice at all?
You might be confused, it wouldn’t surprise me as I’m feeling pretty confused myself. But essentially, coming from a traditional family, I’m being encouraged to settle down. My parents are quite open minded in terms of how I meet my future husband, for example, they’re happy for me to meet someone online, or equally, they’re happy to introduce me to someone. The caveat of all of the above being, this person has to be Indian and Sikh. Which slashes my prospects of finding someone dramatically; after all Sikhs don’t form the majority of the population in the UK (or anywhere in fact, bar maybe the Punjab in India?), we’re a minority. And this is not to mention the fact, Sikhism preaches that you shouldn’t look at people in terms of colour, caste, creed etc (but this is a whole other kettle of fish, the kettle which refuses to distinguish culture from religion).
You might think my parents’ perspective is wrong, old fashioned, narrow-minded. But as with everything, it needs to be placed in context. It needs to be placed in the context of where and how they were raised, and the fact they’ve raised children in a diaspora, which means they are even more passionate about keeping our culture, religion and traditions alive. In all honesty, I don’t agree with their views on marriage. But I do understand their perspective. Luckily for them, I haven’t met and fallen madly in love with someone who falls outside of their parameters. But what if I did? The truth is, I’ll avoid all possibility of this happening, to the best of my ability at least. Because the reality is, the fallout of pursuing a relationship like this would be immense .
But if put in this situation, should romantic love take precedence over familial love, or vice versa? In an ideal world, neither would take precedence, both are of equal importance, and neither would have to be sacrificed for the sake of the other. But if you had to choose, what would you choose?