The Nouveau Dulhin


So, here’s the deal. I was used to being called by my name (or some form of it). Hence, being referred to as the ‘Dulhin’ or ‘Naiki Dulhin’ (to avoid being confused with my mother-in-law, who was still referred to as ‘Dulhinji’ by the household staff and as ‘Dulhin’ by the elder family members) was something I was still digesting. Frankly, its not such an uncommon thing in many households in India, for the daughter-in-law to be referred to as ‘Dulhin’ (which literally means a ‘bride’). In fact, my grandmother still refers to my aunt as ‘Dulhin’, even though she has now been married for more than 40 years! Somehow, when it came to me, it felt different.

To provide a cultural context, in a traditional Indian home like the one that I was now a part of, being the ‘Dulhin’ was a ‘role’, that came with its own set of expectations, a long list of ‘do’s and dont’s’ (a list that I had not been briefed on and did not even know ever existed). In fact, for the first few days after my marriage, I could not even step outside my room till I had worn a Sari (a skill that I had not yet mastered and for which I was given a special assistant) and covered my head with a pallu. I assumed that these were important traditions because several relatives were still around and it would be quite outrageous for the ‘Naiki Dulhin’ to be seen without the pallu on her head. Practically, this did translate into restrictions on my freedom of movement and the ability to simply ‘be’. This was just not what I was used to. Somewhere, it bothered me. It went against the core of who I was. I treated this as a very temporary phase in my life and happily ignored the feeling that had crept inside me on the very first few days after my marriage. After all, I thought to myself, these were very small ‘adjustments’ and it didn’t really matter in the larger scheme of things as long as there was love and respect (which I assumed there would be).

What I did not foresee, and maybe even ignored in my naivety, was that in trying to fulfill all these roles, I was transforming into someone totally different. The individual that was me was slowly chipping away without realising. I tried to enjoy the ‘old time charm’ of it all, and did not question several traditions.

This blog is about my experiences as the ‘Nouveau Dulhin’, the expectations that came along with it (which are so far fetched and unreal in today’s day and age), how I tried to live up to them and in the end, the perspective being the ‘Nouveau Dulhin’ left me with. About life, about relationships, about marriage, about the manner in which women are perceived and treated in Indian society and the need to empower women in their daily life. So that they can just be. Be the wonderful individuals that they are, get the respect they deserve on a day to day basis and raise loving families that centre around love, respect, values and not blind faith, traditions and patriarchy.