Many poets, writers and philosophers have written that love is not a give and take relationship or a business transaction. It is something that just happens. But today, we see our society has institutionalised love, just like marriage. While I agree that marriage is an established custom for a community to organise and live in harmony together, unfortunately, this society has defined love to be accepted rigidly.
For example, we see the enormous influence of religion on marriages and love. A guy belonging to a particular religion cannot marry a girl belonging to a specific religion, and vice versa. This is a perfect example of institutionalising love. Love is something that just happens and cannot be explained logically (no scientist has been able to decipher why a certain guy loves a certain girl more than others). If such barriers of religion, caste, colour, and social status are applied to a relationship, then there is no way love will last between them.
I always felt that such an institutionalisation of love is nothing but an uncomfortable adjustment. This ends up making partners unhappy and dissatisfied in their married lives. I find it impossible to comprehend that people can fall in love with only a specific group of people who are just like them. Who eats the same food, have the same social status, education, job, wear similar clothes, speak the same language, etc. Of course, there is nothing wrong with someone staying and being comfortable around like-minded people, cultures, or religions. But this myopic method to find love has its own set of problems.
Decades before, the world was separated physically, and people lived independently without contact with each other. Today, on the contrary, the world is a connected and interdependent global hub. So, for example, someone in India has to collaborate with an American, who then works with a German or a Japanese on the same project.
So, as the world is coming into daily contact with different people of different colours, races, gender, religion, caste, it is simply unavoidable to like or fall in love with someone who is not like us. An African guy would want an Italian girl, or an Indian girl might fall in love with a Filipino guy. The centuries-old rules of institutionalising love and relationships will not work now. It will be an absurd adjustment that has no justification.
Instead, society should accept that people will like what they want and can no longer impose its rules. In India, where I currently live, things have changed so much that new regulations are popping up to stop these inter-marriages. Due to this, people are afraid to even talk or respond to someone of a different religion or community.
Even in high profile elite circles, we see people marrying amongst their elite group. For example, the richest Indian businesses are family-owned. Moreover, they are zealous enough to keep their elite lineage and wealth within their group to preserve the control and wealth. Even Bollywood and cricket (another two careers to become rich and enter the elite status in India) are no exception.
The Bollywood families are not only notoriously famous for nepotism but also inter-marriages among themselves. And now, with the fame and wealth attained by cricketers, Bollywood personalities are marrying cricketers (Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma, Yuvraj Singh and Hazel Keech, Hardik Pandya and Natasa Stankovic are some famous examples).
So, with the ever-growing trend of arranged marriages, groupism, elite marriages as a way to keep power and wealth within the family – people are slowly forgetting how to fall in love without any prohibitions or social barriers. Gone are the days when a Muslim man (for example, Naseeruddin Shah) could marry a Hindu woman (Ratna Pathak Shah) and not be charged under any ‘Love-Jihad’ law.
On the other side, rare are such examples when even a Muslim actress (for instance, Shabana Raza aka Neha) could marry a Hindu actor (Manoj Bajpayee) and not be labelled as ‘Ghar-Vapsi’. Both of them have successful marriages, and they happily continue to practice their respective religions.
Besides religious restrictions and even social status, age difference (where a girl is older than a guy) is a significant hurdle in marriages nowadays. Gone are the days when a girl from a wealthy family studying medicine (Anjali Mehta) could fall in love with a shy, simple 17-year-old guy (Sachin Tendulkar) after seeing him at the airport. Despite being five years senior to him, they got married happily.
Gone are the days when an urban princess could fall for a guy who lived in a poor chawl. She married him and moved out of her palace to live with her husband in that poor chawl. Later, that guy became known as Jackie Shroff, and that brave woman was Ayesha Shroff.
Can this happen in today’s world? I don’t see this happening anywhere. It is worth noting that even the legendary singer Asha Bhosle (from the elite family of Lata Mangeshkar) had eloped with a rickshaw driver (Ganpatrao Bhosle) when she was barely 16!
I can give countless brave examples of such open-minded and diverse relationships which have happened in the past. But this rarely happens today. Of course, this has nothing to do with any particular government in power, but our society’s mentality has changed to a large extent.
So, the real problem I find is we have become immune to accepting diversity. It is as if we all have been consciously vaccinated by society and its rules never to break the unwritten rules, never accept diversity, stay within our own community, caste, religion, and so on. This institutionalisation has led to the deprivation of love and harmony among us.
We live in fear of each other. We talk with other people like we have a business transaction to make with them. We think before falling in love. We fear what people will say if we like someone who is not like us. This suppression of our freedom is like a virus that inhibits us from loving whomever we want, becoming whatever we like, or even coming out with our own identity (be it straight, gay, lesbian or trans*).
We need to accept diversity of thoughts, identities, and even diversity in love. Because as it is said, love has no barriers. It just happens. So, we should let it happen freely; this is the actual test of love.
The post is originally published on the author’s personal blog – AbhiKNotes