Thursday, June 17, 2010


I am looking forward for Sunil's wedding in Kota Kinabalu in October. Sunil works in my husband's department and is a Malaysian Indian as his grandfather's roots trace back to India. His grandparents hail from the state of Andhra Pradesh in India and migrated many years ago. The people of the state speak Telugu, but Sunil's family speaks an entirely different Telugu now as it has influence of Tamil which is widely spoken by many Malaysian Indians here.

The interesting aspect is Sunil is getting married to a lovely lady who is half -Kadazan and half -Filipino in Sabah. The girl's parents also migrated years ago and settled in Malaysia. Sunil is one among the many Indians who is having a cross - country marriage. This is unimaginable even today in India.
India even today follows the custom of arranged marriages, where in elders of the family decide the groom and the girl. This is an accepted norm which has never been questioned till now. So a Punjabi marries a Punjabi, a Tamilian marries a Tamilian and so on. My initial reaction was that it could be one rare occurrence. I have rarely come across such a cross country married couple in India ever. So I was quite surprised when I first moved here.
But it is a very common trend here and I later met many such Indian couples. A Punjabi marrying a Chinese, a Tamilian marrying an Iban etc. Soon after, my horizon of understanding expanded further when I saw this trend commonly spread across expat communities. Now I have friends from various nationalities whose spouses belong to an entirely different country. An American married to an Iban, a Dutch married to a Chinese, a Britisher married to a Chinese, a German married to a Malay, a Nigerian married to a Chinese and so on. The list is endless.
I had read about cross cultural marriages only in history books in India. Emperor Akbar, a good Muslim ruler used this strategy to annex his kingdom without fighting with local kings. He married daughters of erstwhile Hindu kings and won over hearts of many Hindus. But this practice mysteriously disappeared after the Emperor's death. I felt overwhelmed to see this custom so prevalent here.
In an age where communal fighting is tearing nations apart, it is such a welcome relief to see individuals across nations coming closer and bonding in wedlock. Every other news channel and every other paper devotes so much space updating the world about communal bloodshed every day. Each day we are tragically reminded of colossal human losses inflicted by one community on the other, but not a single paper or channel broadcasts about the inter-cultural marriages uniting the human race.

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