MARRIAGE, in modern times, tends to eschew the stodgy, pedantic practices of yore. Tradition is tiresome, and modernity is in. Pre-marital cohabitation, for instance, may be scoffed at by traditionalists, but to a young couple, it is necessary and vital—it gives them the opportunity to really get to know their potential life partner. In our society, marriage may be embracing all things modern and convenient, but certain traditions will forever stay.
Convenience and practicality tend to rule in modern marriages. With the exorbitant costs of wedding banquets, expensive enough to set the pockets of a couple back by a good year’s joint salary, no wonder some couples opt to celebrate their union in a quiet, private, low profile way. The traditional, expensive, face-saving affair for Mom and Dad is all too much of a burden for a young couple, who have bigger, loftier things to take on as they launch into their new lives together. Why do they have to bother with the little family bickerings that very naturally arise from something as massive as a wedding banquet?
Through the eyes of a young couple, some of the rituals and superstition surrounding traditional marriage can be rather absurd. A couple, for instance, on their wedding morning, is supposed to have to wash themselves in pomelo leave water to ward off evil spirits. Then, there’s the hair-combing ritual to signify the couple being transformed from a boy and girl to a man and a woman. Obviously, such a practice would not be applicable for a couple who’s remarrying, if not laughable. For the sake of filial piety, most young couples play along, and go through with these practices with a stoic grin.
For the braver and more maverick couples who cannot stand to deal with the throngs of relatives, they choose the path of the closed group celebration of just immediate family and the nearest and closest of friends. It’ s akin to the strictly private Hollywood celebrity wedding. Some relatives may feel slighted, some friends may fume, but whose wedding is it? You can’t please everyone seems ultimately to be the modus operandi of young couples.
This scaled-down approach is taking on greater popularity because it gives the couple and their families a more intimate celebration and takes away the fretting and fussing of having to host, and focuses on the enjoyment of company, food, and setting. With fewer guests, couples have greater flexibility to splurge a little more on a fancier wedding destination out by the bay somewhere, or a fancy resort nudging the cliff with a spectacular view of the sunset. Compare this with the more conventional, more mainstream banquet-in-a-ballroom, the sunset somehow feels more alluring, more romantic, and ultimately, more unforgettable.
One cannot imagine couples of such ilk returning from a honeymoon and moving into the home of their parents, either his or hers. The whole concept of extended family has died a long time ago. Rare is the household with the full force of grandparents, parents, children, and soon enough, the new offsprings. Even the government recognizes this departure from traditional marriage arrangements and the business of starting families. Look at the kind of housing we have. Most of the new public housing are snug little outfits great for couples who are just starting their lives together, whose careers have only just started at the bottom of the ladder.
However anachronistic some of the traditional marriage practices are within the modern context of practicality and good sense, some traditions would never die. The business of feasting, of revelry, and the raucous cheers to joy, double happiness and fertility—all this would never fade with time. And even if a couple were to choose to flee from it all, elopement wouldn’t be something too modern in flavor. Elopement, after all, has been around for as long as love existed.
Zeta Chua, Pre-University One
This essay was written in response to the question:
Traditional marriage is an outdated concept. To what extent is this true of your society.
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