Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sushama Datar on Saath-Saath

  1. How does Saath-Saath inculcate the structured and conscious approach towards marriage?
    Let me begin by saying that Saath-Saath doesn't promote love marriages amongst its members. Nor does it advocate kande-pohe type of arranged marriages. It takes the middle path where the boys and girls are provided with a platform to meet, interact, understand and weigh the pros and cons of being married.
    We organise picnics, get-togethers where the members meet in an informal atmosphere and play several games which reflect their thought-process and social inclination. We also hold lecture sessions like money/investment, career, health and success stories.
    We want the boys and girls at Saath-Saath to come to the big decision - “He is the one I want to get married to” - the volunteers are just the facilitators.
  2. What are the “trends” in the present-day marriages?
    If we look at the big picture, the trends or expectations have remained the same to a large extent. Girls want husbands with bigger pay packet, while boys are unwilling to look beyond “fair and lovely” stereotypes.
    I remember being approached by a 32-year-old good-looking, educated young man doing well professionally. He confessed that he had a block against plain-looking girls. I told him, “Looks aren't everything” to which he retorted, “But, what if I am repulsed by her body/physique? Physical relations are important too.” He had a point. So I had to try other ways like, “becoming friends, interacting with the girls and asking himself if he could see beyond their physical looks.”
    Then, there's the question of inter-caste weddings. There have been few instances at Saath-Saath where Brahmin-Maratha weddings have taken place; they are not readily accepted by the society
  3. Can you elaborate on the role-play of boys and girls vis-a-vis marriage?
    Girls are open and willing to explore maybe because that's the way they have been brought up for centuries. Men live in a cocoon, unless they have working mothers and therefore take on some household duties. Otherwise it has to be dinned into them that after marriage there will arise a situation when they have to accompany their wives to the market to buy vegetables or sometimes be expected to change the bedsheets.
    Therefore, we have role-playing sessions at Saath-Saath where the men and women are made to act out certain situations. It sounds like intellectualising marriage, but it does make some men and women think about life post-wedding.
  4. The economics of getting and leading a marriage is known better. What about the health issue?
    Health is an important issue because so many late marriages are taking place. The biological clock doesn't tick only for women, it ticks alarmingly for men too. Think of the stress and the effect it has on sperms! For the women it's the rising cases of Poly-cystic Ovarian Disorder.
    Also, there's a new phenomenon – DINS or Double Income No Sex. We have had a doctor talking on this topic. The couples are so tired and fatigued that there's no time for intimacy. Couples who work for long hours need to think about this.
    Another doctor has also urged prospective couples to undergo certain tests, including thalessemia and HIV+, before getting married. They are necessary for the health of the family – husband, wife and the unborn kid.
Saath-Saath was started by Vidya Bal, and her colleagues of Milun Sarya Jani magazine, in 1994. In 1999, the team decided to steer the organisation towards becoming Saath-Saath Vivah Abhyas Mandal from being just a marriage bureau.
Saath-Saath means co-existence in marriage and the tags of Vivah Abhyas Mandal (Marriage Study Circle) encourage boys and girls to learn how to handle marriage by adopting a structured and conscious approach.
The members meet every Sunday morning and Thursday evening at Marathwada Mitra Mandal College.

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