By: Tasnin Khan
Over the last few months, you probably saw it all over your feed. Many even likened the wedding to that of a royal event: Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas’ wedding.
The couple’s trail to the wedding and preparations were followed by the public since their August engagement up through the November nuptials. Priyanka and Nick’s families hosted several elaborate events this past November that combined both their Indian and American cultures as well as their religions.
The couple celebrated their union with those they love in a train of events that embraced both of their cultures. The events ranged from the Mehendi (a party where the bride and female guests prepare for the wedding by applying henna on their hands) to the Sangeet (a playful competition of dance and song between families) to a Christian ceremony officiated by Nick’s father, a pastor.
What I really admired about their nuptials was that it was a coexisting celebration of both Priyanka and Nick’s identities, families, and cultures. The couple’s celebrations embodied an ideal acceptance of each’s unique backgrounds instead of the controversy, and even condescension, that often comes with interracial relationships. Instead of the clucking of tongues or raised eyebrows that we still see sometimes in reaction to couples that we deem “unexpected” or “so different” from each other based on these sorts of external labels, here is a wedding that celebrated love for what it is.
I'll admit it was cool to feel like my South Asian cultural background is finally being explored, or at the very least acknowledged, in mainstream culture through the coverage of the events. However, here’s the thing: this is the first of its kind at such a scale, and that is deeply disappointing at this point in time. There is so much variety and so much diversity in South Asian culture, and yet most people hear and know nothing about it.
While many can argue that at least covering this wedding is the start of something new and that may be refreshingly true, South Asian culture is not a trend and it shouldn’t be treated like one. The events and rich culture, food, clothing that made this wedding so royal follows suit to years of tradition, and there is so much more to us beyond this. It is very frustrating to see certain parts of our subcontinent’s culture being glamorized by Harper’s Bazaar, People, and the likes when we have always been here. In a time of pulling up more seats to the table and finally getting a chance to share our perspectives and identities, it’s time to also acknowledge that we exist. Put simply: the media needs to stop making South Asian people and our culture one-dimensional.
As I was scrolling down my Instagram feed and looking through coverage of the events and people’s reactions to the wedding, I couldn’t help but be frustrated that some of the same people who have said really ignorant things about South Asian culture - be it poking fun at accents, food, or propagating stereotypes about us, or plain, ignoring us altogether - are the same ones celebrating how “glamorous” and amazing this union is in what it represents.
Here is my message to you:
You cannot pick and choose which parts of us you wish to accept, and do that when it is suitable to you and your agenda. My culture is not a costume that you wear when it looks cool or trendy to you on any given day.
My hope is that we continue to have conversations that open our hearts and minds to learn more about one another instead of minimizing our understanding to some one-dimensional assumption about an entire subcontinent of people. With our celebration of Nick and Priyanka’s nuptials, let’s also continue to push for more representation and get a more full picture of each other - not just when it is deemed glamorous or convenient.