'Coz she was the millennial, feminist bride we all needed.
It’s a common complaint. One that I have personally been the target of quite often, from my mom, sometimes from my dad too - That the millennial generation just doesn’t respect our traditions or our customs. That’s not completely true though. The #SonamKiShaadi fiasco that took over our feeds, and briefly over our lives proved just that. Sonam, the fashion-forward actress, chose to wear a traditional red lehenga, modeled after one that her mum wore almost 20 years ago. She even got the jewellery right, down to the last trinket on her Kashmiri mathapatti.
Sonam, the bride is how I imagine I would be if and when the day ever comes when I choose to pledge my allegiance to someone for the rest of my life, and it will be for the rest of my life. I may be wishy-washy about a lot of things, but hopefully when I pick a man, it’ll be for the rest of my life. That’s one thing I’ve learnt from our culture – commitment. When it comes to marriage, you don’t bail out at the first sign of trouble – you make it work like my parents have for 25 years and counting! So what if I skip fasting during Navratra, I’m not a religious person. Personally, I would rather not fool God for 9 days when I’m a hardcore meat-eater the rest of the year. I would proudly call myself an atheist, but the truth is when I pass a temple, or a mosque, or a church, I kiss my hand and touch my hand, the way my mom taught me. There’s something comforting about that gesture. I embrace faith the way I want to, not the way society would have me.
And I think that’s the way traditions should be treated - you embrace the bits you like; and the ones that don’t make sense to you, you give them a hard pass. Sonam may have done the whole chooda ceremony, but when the time came for her to go to Cannes, and fulfill a professional obligation and her life-long commitment to fashion, she took them off, before the due 40 days were up. Traditions shouldn’t be a hindrance to your everyday life. They are supposed to bring the family together – and the clips we saw of the chooda ceremony with the sisters taking turns at the kaleera falling were more than proof that it was wildly successful at doing just that.
Coming to why do I relate so strongly to Sonam, the bride. Let me illustrate this via a few examples.
At the varmala ceremony, instead of shyly waiting around and engaging the who-goes-first debate, Sonam put the varmala around Anand’s neck the second she got it, never mind the fact that Anand didn’t even have his. Here’s a bride who knows what she wants, why waste time dilly-dallying.
She was boisterous one moment, yelling at the DJ to play her song, gyrating with Anand to Tareefan (which btw became the official anthem of the wedding. If drunk celebrities singing along to the song of your next movie won’t get people in the theatres to watch your movie, I don’t know what will), and coy the next (“I’m sorry, Babu!”).
Her shy bride bit felt forced in places, but sometimes, it’s a part we play because we’re expected to. It's the same with me. I am a different person around the army of my chachas and mamas. I play the part of the good girl I’m supposed to. I don’t want my parents to face the wrath of the khandaan because I have become way too modern in their opinion. But the second I’m out, I’m a completely different person. Not that Sonam has that concern. This is a girl who’s made a career out of her personality, her box office success is hardly one to boast about.
Sonam loves fashion (as do I). Naturally, her wedding consisted of 3 outfit changes a day for over 3 days! And why not, a bride should dictate how her wedding should be. And the winning move? Her changing into a comfortable, albeit fashionable kaftan to dance the night away! Because of course the bride should have fun on her wedding day!
After the Anant Karaj when we were still crushing and crashing celebrities’ lehengas (the female guests only, men have long been exempt from this criticism on how they choose to dress), Sonam changed her Instagram name to Sonam Kapoor Ahuja, which was promptly changed to Sonam K. Ahuja. A hardcore feminist might call her old-fashioned, but the thing about feminism, my friends, is that it’s about choice! Do you choose to wear a hijab? If yes, you rock that hijab. The problem arises when you are forced to wear a hijab.
Sonam didn’t lose herself with Anand, not by any measure. There she was, back to work, 3 days later, sans hubby Ahuja, ‘coz professional obligations always come first! Her first outfit of choice? A stunning Ralph & Russo lehenga, and a parandi on the Cannes Red Carpet, lest the world forget that she’s a new bride first, celebrity second.