“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” This is something that most Americans are familiar with, or at least they are if they’ve been involved in a wedding. When Americans think wedding, they think big, white dresses, tiered cakes, being surrounded by family and friends, dancing, and of course the big kiss at the end of the ceremony to seal the deal. It’s the start of a new life for the bride and groom, together and out of the households of their parents. According to the book, Cultural Anthropology by Conrad Kottack, marriage is defined as: “a union between a man and a woman such that the children born to the woman are recognized as legitimate offspring of both parents.” But this definition isn’t universally accepted to be true. Within various cultures marriage is symbolically represented through a range of very simple to elaborate weddings. A marriage usually changes the roles and responsibilities of two individuals within society. For instance, an individual’s expectation of personal finance may be changes to support both him/herself and their spouse. Marriage also sets the implications of permitted sexual access, setting boundaries for what is acceptable and when. However, these implications are also set based on the individual’s preference as well as the norms accepted in a particular culture. In other cultures, where the structure of things and how they’re done depends from culture to culture, there are many more ways that marriage can be defined. Many societies recognize plural marriages (polygamy) and same sex marriages, therefore rendering the aforementioned definition void. A wedding represents far more than the union of two individuals - in fact, wedding traditions speak volumes about a culture. As mentioned before, there are many different practices and traditions when it comes to the marriage ceremony itself; ranging from huge, extravagant ceremonies, involving hundreds of people, to small, intimate family affairs. While weddings are important in both the Netherlands and in India, how they are conducted is as different as night and day. A Dutch wedding is more like a well-organized family affair, while an Indian wedding more closely compares to a large community gala. The man and woman themselves are able to choose who they want or don’t want to marry in the Netherlands, but in India, the number of arranged marriages is around ninety percent of every marriage that takes place. The Dutch name for a wedding is Huwelijk and it means, marriage or matrimony. The ceremony is planned by the bride and groom along with help from the parents of both. It is usually a small affair, just immediate family and close friends, around sixty to one hundred people. The bride and groom are called the bruid and the bruidegom, which are just the Dutch words for bride and bridegroom. In India, the name for a wedding is Shaadi which means wedding. The bride and groom, or the dulhan and dulha, have no part in planning the ceremony, unlike in the Netherlands. All the planning is done by the bride’s family. It is not uncommon for there to be around one thousand people at a traditional Indian wedding. Usually the guests invited include: family (close and distant), acquaintances, neighbors, colleagues from work, business associates, basically everyone you know. In the Netherlands, there is no particular time or season for the wedding to take place, but typically they have their weddings between the months of May and September. In order to be married, the couple must register with the town hall and receive permission to be married, which lasts for about a year. In India, the priest usually suggests a favorable date. The legal registration and such is all done separately and doesn’t have much impact on the celebration itself. The ways in which the vows are taken are completely different between the two cultures. In the Netherlands,...
Cited: Prinja, Dr. Nawal K. "Weddings. ." BBC: Religions. British Broadcasting Channel, 24 Aug. 2009. Web. 16 Apr. 2014.
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