Feeling like a fifth wheel in susrali gatherings is natural. Especially if you are a newlywed Bahu who has been ordered around to attend all the susrali gatherings, excusing yourself from the parties becomes impossible. Then you make up your mind and convince yourself to attend the gatherings. As soon as you make up your mind, suddenly some not so good memories of your first interactions with Susrali rishtaydar, cross your mind. How your husband’s Chachi had smirked on your Mehndi day and loudly said, “Dekhtay hain kitnay arsay chalti hai yeh shaadi” -not to mention how Bari Chachi had remarked with a visible wince on her wrinkled face, “Yeh dulhan toh koi khaas nahi lagti. Humari Sweety aapko nazar nahi aee, Bhai Sahab.”
We all have been there when we were targeted by the famous susrali outlaws who invite you over for a dinner and then do what they had planned. It is always best to do what you want to do; attend the gathering if you feel confident enough. If not, excuse yourself. But if you fear that the decision of yours might displease your Saas or Susar, and you must attend the gathering, here are some points for you to consider when attending a susrali gathering as a newlywed Bahu.
01. Don’t speak when not needed
In an attempt to impress the new Susral, many Bahus try to get overly comfortable in the Susrali gatherings. Especially when a newlywed couple and the family are invited over dinners, the new Bahu, in an attempt to mingle up with the family and rishtaydar, responds to questions with lengthy answers. Then as the rishtaydar notice that the Bahu is good at talking, they get an opportunity to ask ‘dangerous questions’ or pass ‘humiliating remarks’ as that’s the once in a life time opportunity when “Bhai Sahab ki Bahu” is least expected to answer back and give them the taste of their own medicine.
Remember as a newlywed Bahu, don’t speak in susrali gatherings unless it is important and required of you. This, not only saves you from endless frustration and chaos, but also silently sets some boundaries that everyone at the gathering starts noticing.
02. Respect the differences
Like it or not, the Bahu is the one who has to fit in the new family and despite feeling like an alien who has landed on earth after a trillion years, she is the one who has to show flexibility.
In susrali gathering, you will notice different ways of doing things and you might think, “This is not how things were done at my parents’ house.” But remember, you are to respect the differences, acknowledge them and move on. Thinking too much about husband’s Chachi and Khala kay khaanay would do no harm to them, but they will surely make you gossip about them. Don’t do that!
03. Offer help
Whenever needed, offer help. The best you can do at susrali gatherings is to offer help with setting the table or serving food so as to not get tagged as a ‘Phohar Bahu’. Do it, but don’t overdo it. While you don’t want to be tagged as a ‘Phohar Bahu’, this trick saves you from sitting in the drawing room waiting for the susrali rishtaydaar’s intruding questions and gives you an opportunity to take a break!
04. Connect with another outlaw
If you are completely new to your husband’s family, chances are you will feel overwhelmed at these gatherings. Find yourself a friend, a cousin or someone your age, whom you can strike a conversation with and lessen your anxiety. Don’t let the sight of Bari Chachi make your blood run cold. You’ve got company. No worries!
05. Have a witness
Examine the situation: You are a newlywed Bahu, invited over to your husband’s Taaya’s house for a dinner. Now, you go there, greet everyone and then suddenly one of the ‘out-laws’ shoots a derogatory comment at you. What would you do? Let them walk over you and let them seize that once in a life time opportunity to prove to your Susar that you are ‘Zabaan daraaz’? No. You must not! Put up a smile, stare them in the eye, and give a one-sentence, short and crisp response. Don’t be impudent, but have someone there as a witness. Since you should not blindly trust your susralis at such a time, best is to have your husband notice all the ‘mistreatment’. Similarly, the response you give should be so short and crisp that later on, no one is in a position to blame you for being impudent.
06. Ignore the man, kill the man
Whenever possible, ignore all the negativity that these susrali gatherings have to offer. Sit with the family, enjoy the meals, have short talks and whenever possible, ignore. For a loose cannon, there is nothing more annoying than to see their plans blow up in their face and ignoring is one silent weapon you can use to fail their evil plans.
07. Turn the other cheek when you can
As you receive all the maltreatment by the famous out-law of your susrali rishtaydar, it is very likely for you to resent them. Keep your cool. Tell yourself, “They can play all the tricks and stoop down to mistreat me, but I can’t do the same with them.” You shouldn’t. Whenever possible respond in a respectful manner and turn the other cheek when you can, but don’t let anyone cross their limits.
08. Know who might push your buttons
Someone once said, “Don’t approach life’s challenges by being reactive. Be proactive.” Prepare for the possibilities before they arrive. Smart Bahus act proactively, not reactively. They gather information about the family’s out-laws who might play dirty in susrali gatherings, and then they prepare themselves for the worst treatment they might receive from such loose cannons. The best way is to notice your husband’s relations with his Taya, Tayee, Chacha, Chachee and other relatives. If he receives good treatment from them, chances are you might not be targeted at the next susrali gathering, good for you. But there is no guarantee. Even if he does receive good treatment, who knows that Chhoti Tayee always wanted to marry off her only daughter with your husband and then you came in? Be proactive in your approach. Knowledge is power. Gather as much information as you can. Observe how things work with these out-laws. In the gatherings, when you sense the trouble maker target you, know ahead of time, how you would respond.
09. Smile it off
One thing to bear in mind is that your susrali rishtaydar are your rishtaydar for life. You don’t want to be at daggers drawn with them. No matter what. Whenever possible, show a polite attitude and smile it off.
10. Don’t ruffle your feathers
One of the worst things a Bahu can do at susrali gatherings is to behave like a bear with a sore head. This is the last thing you want to do. Do not ever lose your cool and stoop to the level of those out-laws who mistreat you. Family gatherings can turn in to greatest opportunities or worst nightmares for you. You do not want to be labelled as ‘Badtameez’ letting everyone see you lose your cool. Act with patience and wisdom. Don’t shoot back in seconds. Try to speak to your husband or Saas and seek advice to resolve the matter.
11. Be polite, but don’t be a doormat
Self-explanatory, right? As much as it is important to not lose your temper, it is also important to learn how to earn respect from these outlaws especially when everyone is around at a susrali gathering. Once you give them the taste of their medicine, they would be careful. Be polite, but don’t let anyone treat you like a doormat. Set boundaries and stick to them.
12. Know staying till the end is not mandatory
Embrace the positivity and stay close to the people who make you feel positive and stay away from the negative people. Staying till the end of the gathering is not necessary, especially when many people have left and the family out-law gets a chance to ignite the fire. Sense it when it is coming, the earlier the better and politely leave the gathering. Your peace of mind should be your first priority.
13. If they can dish it, they should take it too
We have seen people play all the tricks with the Bahu, but when it comes to them, they play innocent and victim. One must learn to let the family outlaw know that if they can dish it and play dirty, they should be ready to take it back in the same form. It is important for you to stop the family outlaw, the loose cannon in the first place. The sooner they learn their lessons, the less they are expected to mess up with you. So, the first time it happens to you, give them a piece of your mind – politely!
14. Maintain the distance
Whether you are a newlywed Bahu or a veteran Bahu, if you want the unpleasant episodes that take place at susrali gatherings to end, remember to maintain distance with them. How do you do that? Body gestures; showing that you are busy, less frequent eye contact, ignoring them, not responding to every single question, leaving early, politely refusing to get into the family gossips and many other ways are subtle signs that you are establishing boundaries and keeping your distance. Once you establish that, stick to it. Be polite, nice and participate, but remember if you are victimized and targeted at these susrali gatherings, you need to set boundaries.
I hope these suggestions might help you in surviving your next susrali gathering.