The Broken ‘First Night’ System!

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Do you have to prove you are pure on your wedding night” asked the hairstylist .

I looked at her in shock (actually a mix of emotions) through the mirror.

I was getting my hair done just before I was leaving to India for my wedding and we were having small talk
I am *X country person* and I would expect my daughter to prove she is pure on her wedding night” she added

That did not make this conversation any more comfortable . I changed the subject and avoided her question. I was offended no doubt, but also kind of POed with myself for not having said anything back. But I did know I couldn’t have said anything that would have made the conversation any better.

Wedding Night is something very special, very intimate. Regardless of how the couple plan to spend it, the wedding night is a memory to cherish. You are supposed to feel happy, elated, excited, shy and everything else good (and ofcourse super-tired from the wedding). That sounds reasonable, right?

But what if it includes the couple dealing with a priest who sets a time and who prays for you to procreate that night? And you have people around waiting to confirm your “purity”?
If you did not know, Indian (and many other cultures as well) weddings have a concept of “First Night” where the couple is expected to consummate on their wedding night . In some cases an auspicious time is given by the priest during which time they are expected to “make love”. And the female is assumed/expected to be a virgin. A room with clean white sheets is arranged for the couple and the said “purity” is confirmed by checking the white sheets the next day. And to top this, the couple is advised/ sometimes forced to not use any kind of contraceptives making way for procreation. Not everything said above happens to everyone but I hope you got the drift.

Another fact about Indian weddings is that a majority of them are still “arranged” meaning the match was made by the families and couple have known each other only for a limited period of time. Their wedding night is probably the first time they are going to share their sleeping space.

A third is that growing up,  channels were switched when someone on screen gets close to another (read hug, kiss , intimacy). There was no sex-ed in school.  Talking to the opposite gender in college was against the rules. Love and relationships are viewed as bad and immoral. Uttering the word “sex” is blasphemy. Yet we have the concept of suhaag raat or shanti muhurtham where  a couple is expected to make love the first time they are in a room together (and expected to be “in the mood” at the said time).

Sex or the whole concept of making love is an exploration, a process, a journey that each one has to experience at their own pace. There are a lot of emotions involved and not to forget being psychologically prepared for the same. And if experienced at one’s own pace and style, it is one of the highest forms of attaining pleasure and happiness from your inner being. {For crying out loud, our ancestors came up with the Kamasutra!!}. So why has it all come down to rituals (and such narrow-minded BS, if I may) ?

 

I am sure some of you reading are nodding your heads agreeing and some of you are thinking what is the big deal about it. Let the people around do what they want to do. Let’s do what we want to do behind closed doors. Which seems fair enough only if both parties understand and agree to it. But it is not that simple. With terrible sex-ed, with so many restrictions and rules around relationships and a lack of communication ..

Just like many things that society expects of us, this expectation also has its negative impact that ranges from hasty painful intercourse, aversion to sex because of painful intercourse, unreal expectations,  marital rape, women faking virginity by even going to extremes such as undergoing surgeries to “regain their virginity” and unplanned pregnancies. I read a lot of instances written by women where the male just wanted to do it and the female was scared stiff and vice versa with males apprehensive about hurting a woman..

Do we need such a concept? How do you think a change could be brought about?

What are your thoughts ? Do you have any experiences or stories or wedding night rituals to share with the readers? I would love to hear from you- so please drop a comment if you stop by 🙂 Thank you!

More related articles:

http://akkarbakkar.com/society-said-lot-arranged-marriages-realized-truth-first-night/

Stitching Virginity Back: Becoming A Virgin Again
http://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2015/03/sex-education-in-india/
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17 thoughts on “The Broken ‘First Night’ System!

  1. Somehow rituals override even the most broadminded and educated most of the time. It is sonsad that they can’t get themselves to steer out of it.. For whatever be the reason! Beginning with the biology teacher in class 8/9 who shies away from taking the class on the detailed reproductive system the thought process has to change!

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    • I agree! It also surprises and frustrates me that people who claim to be open or progressive, shy away when it comes to one of their own. Hope changes happen..

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hmmmm…Janai..a thought provoking topic here and found it extremely interesting despite the fact that I am hitting the silver jubilee this year with wistful of grey hair:)

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  3. It all lies in our perspective I believe. I personally feel there is no big deal, I mean people can go astray anytime and all this purity thing is so reduntant. It’s more important to find someone who is compatible, who loves us rather than giving so much attention to first night. And honestly most of us are so tired after the whole marriage ceremony that we sleep off as soon as we hit the bed.. ☺

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  4. Too much pressure. Remember the flower bedecked bed and the milk? Ridiculous stuff that we still carry this on in India – and from your sharing, other parts of the world too.
    I even find the jokes and pranks people play on the bride and groom distasteful.

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  5. I agree with you! The lack of real sexual education is extremely problematic and is hurting young people more than it is helping them. Once young people do get married, they have no idea what to do. As a newly Wed myself, I didn’t understand this fully until I went through this all myself. Luckily, I have a really understanding husband and my family had no such expectation of examining the wedding sheets, but a lot of education needs to be done, because young people and couples have so many questions and no where to turn to.

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    • Yes Rafia, I am glad you found someone who is understanding. I think we can do our part and help those around us who might go through this such as our siblings/friends. Thank you for stopping by and for sharing your experience 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Susmitha Palakurthy

    Hi Janani, first of all, thank you for writing about this because I know how everyone stays away from this topic and frankly speaking lot of people consider this a taboo subject. Ironically, on the so called “first night” you are expected to sit among your family, friends, priests & even strangers to go through the whole process of humiliation, and of course, with divine thoughts praying for I don’t know what. I wish we can educate the elders & parents of families to how times have changed and how we are stuck with the norms of society which have been established some centuries ago.
    In arranged marriages, most of the time the newly weds barely know each other or might not be at the stage of relationship where they are not yet ready for the so called “first night”. They have a new world with each other and they should be free to go at their own pace without having to look at everyone in the room telling them what to do or rather what they are expected to do. Sex education is important and it’s high time we do something about it. Fast forwarding the intimate scenes on a TV or treating the subject as a taboo is not helping the young people out there. In fact, it’s pushing them to explore it in the forbidden way and lack of education is cause of so much frustration and sometimes unwanted pregnancies.
    It’s time we start talking loud and educate the people; it’s time to reform the so called “First Night”.

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  7. haha truw. the very thought of people outside the door kills the enthusiasm. most of our marriage practices started when marriage happened between kids. As time passed by, additions and deletions have come in making it as it is today.

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  8. One of my teachers in college who was a pastor told us a story of a young couple who had come to him with a problem. They were two weeks into their marriage and were yet to have sex because it had been instilled in them that sex was evil and he just couldn’t get himself excited enough to do anything…and they were both completely clueless. I think sex ed is pretty important.

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  9. This would definitely be a lot to process especially with a spouse that you are very unfamiliar with. Having these conversations creates awareness which I think is very important. Are there any sex-ed initiatives that you are aware of?

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    • There are many non-profit organizations and schools who have started initiatives. But the reach has not been as desired. My observation has been that with even the word sex being taboo, we grow up thinking it is wrong and a large amount of youngsters either explore it in the wrong way or completely remain ignorant about it.So getting the information to people in the right manner takes a long time. I tried to write about one concept but there are so many layers to it :-/

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