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Hoping for stable marriages, foreigners go for local boys

May 01, 2017 05:42 AM
Marriage ceremony in Rishikesh

Dehradun (Uttarakhand): Lisette Waalewijn came to Rishikesh on a rafting trip along with her mother in 2008. A year later, she had decided to marry her rafting instructor Mukesh Joshi with whom, she recalls, she felt "an instant connect."

Lisette is not alone. Several foreign girls who come to Rishikesh either on a rafting trip or for learning yoga are increasingly finding their soulmates here, and getting married to local boys. In the past five years, there have been at least 50 such weddings reported from various areas of the town like Muni-ki-reti, Lakshman Jhoola and Tapovan.

What is driving these foreigners to find love so far from their countries? For many, it is all about having a 'stable marriage.' "I know that the love that he has for me goes very deep and he will not let me down easily or replace me for someone else because that is not in his nature and it is also not common in Indian culture," says Lisette.

It's a reason that is echoed by Emily Swales from Yorkshire in the UK who married Pramod Rawat, a rafting camp operator, in February this year. The wedding was performed with elaborate Indian rituals. Pramod's parents, although initially hesitant about the match, eventually agreed and are now all praise for their new bahu. "She likes to address herself as Emily Rawat and happily wore a sari and nath (nose ring), a day after the wedding when there was a pooja at home," says Beena Rawat, Pramod's mother.

Vijay Rawat, the groom's father was not just happy to see the number of baratis who had come from the UK but also the fact that they were all traditionally dressed. "It was heartening to see them in traditional Indian clothes trying to dance like us. It's a heart-warming feeling to think we relate to each other as humans and not as dark and fair skinned or Indian or foreign. We were simply sharing that moment of joy," he says.

Most of these 'videshi' brides have adapted to local customs and they happily sport bindis and wear sarees. They have also learnt to cook Indian meals -- albeit with a firang twist. Lisette, for instance, says that she "loves aloo paranthas made by sasu maa" but has also dabbled in her own fusion dishes, like bhindi with cheese. 

And how difficult, or easy is it to adapt to traditional Indian families? "It can be a bit difficult sometimes because some things are normal in Holland but not in India and the other way around. Like, I love to be on my own sometimes and have some privacy, but in India people love to be together so much that they forget about privacy sometimes. Other big difference is that in India everybody shares everything they have. In Holland, it is more like 'this is yours and that is mine', but I like the Indian way more since it suits me better," says Lisette.

The trend of mixed marriages seems to be here to stay, says local school teacher Nandkishore Kotnala. "Rishikesh has always attracted a fair number of foreign tourists for rafting as well as yoga. With the guys being better educated and outgoing now, the ladies seem to prefer them. The Indian family system and the fact that marriages here are meant for keeps adds to the charm," he says.


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