I was eagerly waiting for a letter to arrive in the post. The letter arrived all the way from New York. I was 12 and the letter was from my penpal with whom I wrote for over 4 years. Once I wrote a letter and handed it over to my dad, I had to wait a couple of months for the letter to reach John and for him to write back. Now at 37, I recall how sweet it was to do what my parents encouraged me to do.
In 2017, there is no need to write letters, if you have a friend half way across the world, just add them to your Facebook or Whatsapp and you can be in touch in a matter of seconds. This is amazing but gives us the feeling that we are missing something. If you are from this generation, that is, never wrote letters, never listened to the tape recorder or never had to send a telegram, then you would never get it.
Similarly, a different kind of tradition existed/exists in India. When someone celebrates an auspicious event such as a wedding, birthday, naming function, half saree function and so it, the tradition was to visit the guest’s place and invite them formally with an invitation card.
In the good old days, if someone did not follow the above protocol, then the person who was not invited properly, would in most cases not go to the event and it would turn out to be a big deal. This has nothing to do with the love they have towards the person the event was being held for but it is just a simple case of their feelings getting hurt and ego playing its part.
Another alternative if the geographical are was too big was to delegate the distribution of the cards to another relative who then on their behalf would visit everyone and hand them the cards to the event. This would follow with a call apologising for not being able to hand over the card in person.
In 2017, there is still this practice and many follow it staunchly, however, there is a new concept of invitations. These are Whatsaap invitations. These invitations are generally sent via Whatsapp, however, as I have been observing, there is a different pattern and classification in the way a person is invited.
Scenario 1: In person physical invitation and phone call by a family member.
To be in scenario 1, you either have to be super rich or super important. Your presence at the event benefits the event holder by elevating their status whilst you are present at the event. Another assumption could be that you are someone who could help them in the future or have helped them in the past. Either way, If you are getting invited via Scenario 1 and not are part of the family, you are in a socially strong position.
Scenario 2: Invitation by post and phone call.
You are someone who it’s better not to take a chance with. Or you are someone very far away, so no hard feelings here. You are important but not as much as in Scenario 1. You need to get an invite and that is compulsory because they are not sure if it’s worth their time making all the effort to invite in person but at the same time, they don’t want to risk not inviting you by the formal invitation card. Generally, a call will explain that the invitation has been posted and your presence is very important.
Scenario 3: Invitation via phone.
Hey, 19th is my daughter’s marriage at Guntur in so and so function hall, please come with your family. Please don’t forget, due to marriage works, I could not come in person to invite you.
If you eagerly say that you will be there, the caller will thank you and hang up. In some cases, if the caller detects that the person is not entirely happy being invited on phone, he or she will say “you know what, let me try and come over to give you a card, its so hectic that I am the only person who has to handle everything and so on” You will then say, its ok, I totally understand the mechanics of arrangements of a marriage, don’t worry, we will all be there.
Then, the function is not really a priority, if possible on that day, they will attend, if when they are unable to attend, they will use the excuse of, I was not invited properly and skip the event.
Scenario 4: Whatsapp or Text message invite, No phone call
You are a nobody to the person who is inviting you. You will most probably receive this generic invite via a group message along with a nicely designed invitation card scan pr something similar. You are someone they are not really inviting but they are more like informing you. If you go to the invite, it is because you really want to and genuinely like them. If you do not visit, no one will miss you. You won’t get any call from anyone asking you why you did not attend because in most cases, they will forget that they even invited you.
However, when you both meet sometime in the future, you will be asked why you did not attend the event, you will laugh it off in a sense that says, you know why or you will instantly lie about being out of town or something along those lines.