With moral values in Sri Lanka degenerating - and the divorce rate reported to be soaring at more than 60% despite the pontification and puritanical platitudes of politicians – we need to deeply reflect on turning around to a simple and humble lifestyle or Alpechchathavaya as we know it in Sanskrit. The focus of this turnaround in the aftermath of a tragedy that took place last week is on the morality of spending so much on dowries, gold jewellery, five-star wedding receptions and a whole lot of extravagant side-shows offered by wedding planning companies. We should reflect on the need for all these, if more than 60% of marriages are ending up on the rocks with thousands of poor children torn between the father and the mother and ending up as mental wrecks. The children have lots of sub-conscious wounds that surface later in life with drastic consequences.
Before going to the heart of what we are proposing, we wish to briefly refer to the recent tragedy with our deepest sympathies to the families concerned. Some weeks ago the father had withdrawn more than eight million rupees in cash from a bank and was carrying it back to his office at a Ja-Ela garment factory when he was waylaid and robbed apparently after someone somewhere tipped off the robbers. This man’s daughter was to get married on June 8. But the father, probably shocked by the robbery of the cash he had withdrawn for the marriage, died of a heart attack on June 7. Some family members who were overseas and had flown back to Sri Lanka on June 7 got the news of the death of the father when they landed at the airport. The wedding was postponed, and on June 8, instead of a beautiful bride being taken up the aisle by the father, the family was weeping as his body lay in a coffin.
Temples, churches and other places of worship are now offering their halls or a vast garden space for wedding lunches or dinners. Tents could be set up, and catering companies will provide what is needed – from meals and cutlery to tables and chairs – at a fraction of the cost of five–star bashes.
We heard the story some years ago of an Indian couple who had been given millions of rupees by their families for a lavish wedding reception. But the enlightened young couple decided to have a simple ceremony and gave the money to Mother Theresa to be used for the welfare of tens of thousands of poor children. The young couple and their marriage would have received a hundred-fold in blessings as would have the poor children in Mother Theresa’s homes all over the world.
With Hypocrites and self-righteous humbugs in political robes trying to impose a code of ethics for journalists, the virtues of a simple wedding cannot be imposed by laws. It must come from the conscience and the enlightened reality that marriage is not a lavish bash but a commitment to love, serve, sacrifice and wash the feet of one another with care and concern for each other’s needs and wishes, understanding of each other’s faults and weaknesses, and appreciation of what is good and nice in each other.