Monday, July 21, 2008

engagement

I am not sure how to explain the idea of an engagement ceremony to my extended family. To them, you are engaged as soon as you tell everyone you are. Engagement parties are just to introduce you to people as a couple. You don't typically expect non-local people to travel much to come to them, and you can have as many parties as people are willing to throw for you. Or you could not have any. (You don't throw them yourself.)

But in F's family, the Engagement is more than just a party. There's a ceremony, and before that happens you're not officially engaged. You're just planning on getting married. Maybe you're pre-gaged. Engaged to be engaged. And you don't get more than one engagement. It's just the one, because it wouldn't make any sense to have the ceremony more than once.

So how do I get it across to my out-of-state aunts and uncles that they should come to this shindig, and it's a bigger deal than a few plates of hors d'ouevres and some chitchat?

1 comment:

CaliforniaTransplant (CT) said...

It is tough to bridge the cultural gap when explaining traditions to families. There really is no Western equivalent to a Hindu "Engagement" ceremony. Although it's often followed by a party, it isn't an engagement party - it's a religious ceremony to ask for blessings from family, friends, and god and to initiate the whole wedding process.

M and I didn't have an Engagement because all my family lives out of town and wouldn't be able to attend and because M's family just couldn't financially afford to host one. However, I did attend M's cousin's engagement recently, which I thought was a very nice, low-key ceremony with family members followed by lunch. And the ceremony was beautiful. Because I am going to marry the groom's oldest cousin, I was one of the first family members the groom approached for a blessing. I was very touched by the experience and being part of their ritual.

I think if you focus the Hindu significance of the ceremony and differentiate it from an engagement party for your family - it'll help them understand. And I think many Indian people understand and appreciate Western-style engagement parties too. We ended up having two engagement parties in the Western sense and members of M's family attended both without any confusion. They understood we were having no "Engagement" but we were having some "engagement parties".