Since the beginning of time, becoming a wife is seen as one of the most revered accomplishments for a South Asian woman. No matter how accomplished she is in her career or education, marriage gives her a title and stature that nothing else ever can (so they say), and to some extent, we may agree that marriage is a victory, but there’s more to us than our husband’s last name.
Starting from the proposal to the engagement and every wedding function that follows, the bride takes charge of every little detail, and before you know it, she’s a newlywed with never-seen-or-head-of responsibilities from both sides of the family — not to mention the pressures she soon feels to bear children.
The newness a wife feels when becoming one with her husband is indescribable — it’s equal parts scary and enthralling. Perhaps she’s not the breadwinner so is supposed to give up on her dreams or perhaps she’s too educated so she must not challenge her husband. Whatever the case may be, she’s given her life to her husband for the next seven lives and that means she must attend to his needs, and his needs only.
Don’t get us wrong, we love the cultural and ritualistic traditions of becoming a South Asian wife — we hold the seven rounds made around the fire, our mangalsutra, flower garlands, sindoor, red choora bangles, and other meaningful aspects of our wedding ceremony close to our hearts, but what stands us apart is the concept of living our lives as we would — independent that of our husband — but together in harmony forever.
We are wives, but we’ve not forgotten who we were before we became wives. We are still sisters, friends, daughters, cousins, aunts, entrepreneurs, hustlers, dreamers, feminists, storytellers, and independent thinkers.
Marriage doesn’t stop us from following our dreams and pushing the glass ceiling — if anything, it compels us to push even further, and that’s the goal of our photo campaign, #PowerofPatni. We’re wives with superpowers — one who may not find balance in every aspect of her life — but she’s pursuing fulfilment in all of it.
The word patni comes with such a sense of pride and honor — as a devi (goddess) of the house. She is the person who brings light, energy and love with her the moment she joins her new family, while never letting her own family feel her void. For me, being a patni is more than just its simple translation of “wife.” It is more than merely a role. A patni is strong yet exudes warmth, has principal and faith balanced with kindness, and does everything she can to both empower and calm any chapter a family encounters. She is ever inspired and inspiring, an equal member of the household. She is caring, she is soulful, she is passionate and compassionate; and above all, she leads with both her heart and mind. Love your patni endlessly — be her best friend, her soulmate always — give her gentle hints of thoughtfulness, and she will forever lead the way to happiness. — Amy Devan
Becoming a patni was not something I ever dreamed of like some girls do but now that I am one, I fully understand and appreciate everything it means and stands for. Believe it or not, becoming a wife feels natural now that I am here — as if I were meant for this all my life. I appreciate the love we have for one another even more now, and every second we spend together, I tend to cherish and hold close to my heart. The life we’re building together is one that I would have never imagined, but it includes equal part happiness and sacrifice. I sometimes find myself thinking about his needs before mine and that’s rare for me, but it naturally happened. Everything we do, we do it for us, our family, our future, and all of a sudden, it’s like no one else matters. — Trisha Sakhuja-Walia
I thought I was independently strong before getting married, but I’ve discovered this new definition of shakti post-marriage (and I mean that in the most positive way). Perhaps it is because with this new role of being a patni and bahu, comes new responsibilities and challenges. Life has such a funny way of proving one’s strength. Marriage shows both men and women alike what it means to not only be strong for yourself, but more importantly become the pillar of strength your partner needs and has been seeking for all their life (perhaps unknowingly). As I reflect on this word shakti, the first thought that comes to mind is balance. Just as a pendulum swings back and forth, back and forth, life brings ups and downs and stages of momentum and rest. In those life moments, those shifts and movements, it is the influence and work of both partners in a marriage that brings peace, harmony and equilibrium. That, to me, is truly shakti. — Amy Devan
Since becoming a wife, I feel more powerful — maybe it’s because my soulmate makes me feel fulfilled. But this feeling of “I can do anything” and “can be anything I want” has manifested into something even larger after marriage. This new found power comes from his support of everything I do, and want to do. It comes from his acceptance of all my good qualities but also all my flaws. Him just being here gives me this untouchable feeling, that I can conquer everything I’ve dreamed of. So, if I were to describe what becoming a patni means to me in one word, it would have to say, powerful. — Trisha Sakhuja-Walia