The Blogchatter Half-Marathon has ten commandments, of which the first is
Thou Shall Be Authentic
Since I’m going to try to keep to the prompts, (I’m not particularly imaginative, so thank you Blogchatter :P) let’s talk about being authentic during Covid 19.
I just returned from an authentic wedding. The word authentic is revered by many but to me it now equals selfishness. Here’s why:
Wedding Plans Made
A close family member’s wedding was fixed for mid-June. This happened in March much before the nightmare of April-May. It was fixed when India was back-slapping itself over the success of our Covid story, how we were in the “end-game,” how we were done and life is back to normal, economy was picking up… We were on our way!
Meanwhile, my family happily shopped, gave orders at tailors and picked up stuff for the wedding. Invitations were being discussed, should we have 1000 people was discussed at one point. Finally, they started to realize that maybe we should restrict it to 500? This was at the end of April when we had already started to see 400,000 cases a day.
Second Wave Starts
May came and the election results announced, lockdowns were slowly announced as the second wave overwhelmed state by state, urban to rural. May 10 was the start of a lockdown where we live. By May 1, in Delhi, Maharashtra and Punjab the graphs were showing an extreme rise in Covid 19 cases. Hospitals could not cope with the influx of patients. We read about a shortage of vital medicines, oxygen and beds. Dread is setting in. What are we doing? Is this right? Should we invite so many people? Can we put the lives of our family, of us at risk?
Lockdown left no choice but to have 50 people for the wedding. Sounds do-able! And then something dreadful happened. A very, very dear cousin’s wife dies, she was only 44. You age a little hearing this. For the first time Covid-19 is at our doorstep. Another cousin called to say their whole family got Covid-19. Luckily for the adults, they ended up with moderate cases while their daughter at 32 battled for her life in an ICU. We were even more shaken.
On Being Authentic
And yet, our dear family is gung-ho about the celebrations. They want an authentic wedding. Which means all the traditional ceremonies with umpteen meetings of people from different households. We are still inviting 50 people. We are not ready for a simple one-function wedding. Nope, not all. We are authentic. After all, the children will forget our traditions otherwise.
Why are we so selfish? What about the people with comorbidities? We have diabetes, hypertension, and other diseases. There could be a pregnant woman amongst your guests, a cancer survivor or even someone with an autoimmune disease. Should a young couple get married with so many ceremonies during covid times? Is authenticity to tradition so important that you will put someone’s life at stake for it?
Family from everywhere start to call us to ask,
“In times like this, why have elaborate ceremonies?”
Questions to which you have no answers. You stammer your way through this barrage of questions. Fear for your own life becomes stronger. If you become a break-through case, which is a case where despite being fully vaccinated the person still gets severe Covid 19, what will happen to you?
Someone helpfully tells you that the flowers can carry the virus if it has been handled by a Covid-19 positive person (perhaps asymptomatic) Imagine the number of garlands and flowers you must handle during a wedding.
You cannot stay away from the wedding. As elders in the family, you have to go. After all, an authentic wedding needs the elders, especially since the father of the groom is no longer living. He died two years ago, before the pandemic. So, with no other go, cautiously you stick your necks out and tell the wedding party that all the covid protocols must be followed.
Least number of people.
Full mask or double mask for everyone
No air conditioning, plenty of ventilation
Mask for the make-up artist and other people who go near the bride
Mask for the people who solemnize the wedding
Masks for the musicians – what to do with the clarinet? Keep them far from the stage.
Masks for the waiters and other people going in and out of the wedding venue.
They nodded their heads solemnly. “Yes, good idea.” they say.
To Mask or Not to Mask
The ceremonies include mehndi, a sangeet, a turban ceremony for the groom and haldi for the bride and prayers. There is also the Nalangu or blessings where the guests shower the young ones with rice before the Muhurta the next day. So now we have six occasions for people from different households to gather together. Absolute fun during normal times of course. But being authentic during the time of covid-19 sounds foolhardy and inconsiderate, don’t you think?
Wedding Day: We get there and we realize they have not called ‘a few people.’ You are in the midst of an authentic Indian wedding. The musicians are close to the stage where the mask less bride and groom are seated. The ceremony is being conducted by a person without a mask.
The air conditioning is on. The doors closed. Sixty people occupy the chairs. Half the crowd is mask less. No surprises, it is the family on the other side who don’t wear the masks. They apparently don’t believe. You even had a box of masks for everyone who came without a mask,
But when offered a mask, they said, “No thanks, I don’t want one!”
Why are we so selfish? If you just wear a mask you can cut your chance of infection by 65% With Social Distancing you can cut chances of infection by 90% (UC Davis) If all of us wear a mask, we can cut the chances of spreading the disease even more..
Can’t you take a bit of discomfort in order to save lives? Are you so sure you will survive if you do get sick? Don’t you care that one selfish act could kill someone else? As a society, you feel as if we fail to protect each other with basic courtesies.
Yes, we Indian pride ourselves on taking care of our family members.
Sorry I can’t have a simple wedding: I dreamt of an elaborate one my whole life.
Well, if you did then why not wait for a more appropriate time?
Don’t worry its nothing bad, covid goes away, it’s like the flu.
Hello! Its like flu for you but not for me. How would you know how it affects someone else? Why are there so many people in hospitals?
You are not saying don’t get married. By all means do get married. Have a simple wedding with the least exposure for the people you claim as family. Make life easier during these hard times. Being authentic during the time of Covid-19 seems a little foolish don’t you think?
Authentic wedding? Bah! Let’s survive this pandemic so we have a culture to save.
This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon.