Chai Rishtey (Chai Relationships)
So far we’ve talked about presence of Chai in everyday life of many countries – Indian subcontinent, China, Middle east and alike – chai is second most consumed drink in the world after water. Today, we’d touch upon very special nuance of Chai drinking culture and Indian subcontinent – romantic appeal of Chai!
As a tradition in India, marriages were fixed by families – these are commonly termed as ‘arranged marriages’. This custom has many roots that lay its foundation and allow it to be still in widespread practice in India – social life in India deeply revolves around families and there is a general belief that one doesn’t marry an individual, but his or her entire family. Imagine, if you had to spend better part of your life not only with your partner, but also with his/her family members, wouldn’t it be wise to at least know them well? Also, Indian society has always been a very diverse mix of religions, casts and classes that follow different practices including religious beliefs, customs, value systems, food habits etc. Marrying someone within similar ‘family culture’ is usually the priority.
There are also scientific reasons for scouting potential partners beforehand – astrologists are hired to match the ‘kundali’ of bride and groom to understand planetary/cosmic alignment of two. Well, if you believe in this system, there’s hardly a precedence to match ‘kundali’ over a date, so you’re usually left with age-old method of families fixing a courtship for you.
Now, imagine if you have never met your to-be partner for life – and you have to meet her over a formally arranged meeting between two families, with nearly 20+ people in attendance, you’d find very subtle romantic cues. And possibly that’s what happened and got rooted in to Indian culture over decades.
Such meeting of families is called ‘mooh-dikhai’ (meeting first time). Usually, groom’s family visits bride’s family and engages in casual chit-chat. Everyone’s basically waiting for the moment when bride enters the room and serves a cup of Chai that she prepared. That brief moment when she enters with a platter of Chai cups is probably one of the most romantic moments for the groom to be and has determined fate of many hundreds of thousands – to live together or not.
The significance of Chai in this meeting and how it continues post marriage cannot be stressed more. It is so rooted in the culture that Chai companies that sell tea products regularly target husband-wife relationship and romantic presence of Chai in their relationship.
Leaving you with couple of snippets of ad-campaigns that try to touch romantic as well as emotional chords in husband-wife relationship.
As I’ve mentioned in my previous blog, times are changing and so are customs. It is not uncommon to find bride and groom meet each other without pressure of interacting in front of entire family – usually these meetings take place in coffee houses these days – as I wrote about in last post as well.