Here’s a puzzle for you! Tell me — What’s that one thing that’s way more common in India than the MOSQUITOES? Hey, don’t tell me the Candy Crush Request! Yes, you guessed that right! The answer is the ARRANGED MARRIAGES in India! Just give it a damn thought. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t escape from the Indian culture of arranged marriages. Right? All of us have experienced it, time and again. If not yet experienced by you, someone very close to you must have.
So, do arranged marriages in India really work?
At the moment, a number of educated, cognizant and prosperous career-oriented men and women choose the crazy set up of marriages arranged in India by well-intentioned parents. Yes! Even in the present world where sexual prejudice and illiteracy are gratefully on the drop! Almost all of us know from an initial age that our parents will select our significant other. Aren’t we? What’s more? To refuse an arranged marriages in India is nothing but a symbol of contempt toward our families.
In spite of the fact that all our beloved Bollywood Movies give a stunning picture of the love together with the hint of romance, the reality is far-off from what is notable in Indian media. All you see in Bollywood is nothing more than folklore! The reality is that arranged marriages were, are and will exist in Indian society for a long time to come. So, there’s again “NO WAY TO ESCAPE.”
As a matter of fact, in a number of Indian families, the word “Shaadi” is one of the first words a kid learns after “mom” and “daddy”.
And I’m not exaggerating at all! For all of us (Indians), marriage is a substance of “destiny of fate”. And so, it’s better if it’s an arranged marriage!
At this point, I hark back to my grandma telling me the tales that immediately put me in tremors. A while ago, most likely sixty years back or around there, the boy and the girl would meet each other for the very first time on the day of their wedding ceremony. Dear me!! I mean just visualize meeting the person you’d be spending your entire life after it’s all done! And yes not to forget – the no returns policy! (The divorce rate didn’t even exist at that time.)
Thank Goodness! It’s 2017 at the present! The radical impact of the West on our Indian culture has changed certain things at this moment. Arranged marriages in India today demonstrate a different picture. At the present, our parents wait for their children to reach an “eligible age” to fix them up with probable brides and grooms. And fortunately, thanks to the entrance of matrimonial websites and everything that’s on-line, you can seek your would-be wives and hubbies on-line.
So now, you can take your initial steps. All you need to do is register yourself on your favourite matrimonial website. The minute you fell for a specific profile, just make the first move and let your parents know about it. Then they will get in touch with the fathers and mothers on the other side and may perhaps fix a date. As simple as that! Right?
At last, it is not just you on your own who will make up your thoughts about the individual you would desire to share your entire life with.
Did you say that you are smart enough to estimate who would be your Mr. or Miss Perfect?
Well, who cares?
You just can’t deny the fact that your family, cultural penchants, educational independence or your social profile are not sufficient to get a partner of your dreams. So, how are you going to get your suitable spouse chosen for you? Hey don’t worry; you won’t die without getting married to your partner! It’s just that you have to go through a lot of extravaganza, drama and physical pressure seething under the surface.
Indian arranged marriages — A social psychological perspective!
The major discord against the Indian culture of arranged marriages is that the entire planning, procedure, and arrangement resembles a well-disguised business deal. Yes, you read that right – a business deal — that’s what arranged marriages in India are all about!! On top of that, this business agreement between the two families to gain has a number of terms and conditions. And all of them are acceptable as this is how the marriages are happening India for eras! So, check out all the sections and clauses of this deal and tell me – Are arranged marriages in India normal?
No one in the entire world can be more chauvinistic and racially prejudiced than a normal Indian.
Trust me! It’s true! We split and harass individuals on the basis of religion, class, social group, caste, colour, language, state, district, province, sub-caste, sub sub-caste, and the rest. Just name it and we have it!
You can’t even dare to tie the knot with anybody outside your caste or sub-caste. No matter if you are not capable of paying the dowry or you love someone. In fact, there are more than Thousands of examples where couples either murder themselves or are murdered by their families for marrying someone out of caste. So, LOVE, just forget it! Even though the situation has changed in quite a few metropolitan cities, the rural India is still the same.
The ‘right family’ and not the ‘right individual’
Yes, in maximum parts of India, the wife-to-be and the husband-to-be are not permitted to meet or talk to each other. They convincingly have to agree whom their parents select for them to tie the knot. Getting to know or understand each other is a delicacy for just a few elite societies. By and large, the intended partners meet each other just one time with the family, of course.
So, what is the gist of the “appropriate match” here?
Well here, the “appropriate match” is neither the girl nor the boy. In fact, the hero of the story is their families, relatives, and clans. They uncompromisingly hunt for the family who is well-to-do from their particular caste and sub-caste. And yes, not to forget the “Kundalis!” Believe it or not, this little piece of paper with some characters and figures has great importance in your arranged marriage decision. Sounds weird and terrible, but it’s damn true!
The biggest “Fish Market” you must have ever seen in your life!
If you desire to see the world’s biggest “fish market”, go through the matrimonial section of an Indian newspaper. Furthermore, the arranged marriages in India and dowry are the two sides of the same coin. An awful reality about the arranged marriages in India is that the bride here is nothing but an ‘article of trade’. And the irony is that her dad has to pay her price to her bargain hunters. So principally, she is a ‘product’ with a negative worth.
The flea market doesn’t end here. There is a rate for the boy as well. This rate depends on his educations, qualifications and other credentials. You see, doctors and engineers may cost you a bit more than arts and commerce graduates. By the same token, NRIs and Administrative Service Officers may cost you billions. There is a fixed rate for every single thing – education, complexion, nationality and what not! Just name it and you’ll get it!
As soon as the meeting is fixed, both the parties get all set to bid with their offers for sale! They’ll resolve all the issues including the gold, silver, attires beddings and the girl. And the girl’s dad is left with no other option than to give. What is more? They take the judgements about how much cash the girl’s father has to spend in all the festivity. Here, comes the so-called ‘IZZAT’ of the groom’s family as they just can’t afford to miss any guest in the get-together. To close, the decision is taken if they want a Sedan or SUV.
The soon-to-be bahu should be “Well-educated” but not “Well-informed!”
As soon as you enter the imprudent set up of the arranged marriages in India, you feel that the bride’s father make education available to her just to get her hitched to a better groom. In most of these marriages, the professional ambitions and goals of a woman are cut off on the day she walks down the aisle. After all, her sole duty now is to manage the household, prepare food and do all the odd jobs. Now, she can’t work ‘for money’, even if she wishes to.
What about love?
I know, I know that you’ve always wanted to know about the love in arranged marriages… Here’s the answer:
There’s indeed going to be a lot of adoration and fascination between you and your partner. Or else, why would you go to all the conventions and meetings and all that chutzpah? You already wish to spend your life together. Therefore, after the official “Roka ceremony,” you can go-ahead as you get the consent to fall in love with each other. While the norm still remains the same — The love comes later!
The comedy and tragedy – to sum up, all the DRAMA!
As soon as an apparent ‘fortune-teller’ finalizes the ‘marriage date’, the carnival begins. With the ‘carnival,’ I mean 2-3 standard gatherings and events that can put up a complete month. Both the parties invite each person whom they or anyone from their 7 generations may be familiar with in this ‘stranger’ world together with their ‘parivaars’ (again their 7 generations).
Now, coming to the main event – The wedding ceremony (Formal Procedure)
Women wearing heavy sarees and lehengas (can be up to 50 Kilograms heavy) and piles of gold on their body, put-upon with loads of face paint grace the event with their presence. You can find these chachis, buajis and mamijis all around the pavilion bitching about the total investment the girl’s dad has made and trying to figure out the faults with the arrangements.
On top of that, men stay busy with tasting and condemning the cuisines prepared specially for the ‘baaraatis’. The music plays out loud so that all the dear friends of the dulha may enjoy dancing after they are “one or two bottles down”.
But where’s the bride and the groom? Well, you can find them sitting silently on the couch, smiling softly on each picture captured by the professional photographer.
The Post-Wedding Crab
Now, as the bride is ‘the official part of your family,’ you get the ‘license’ to piss and moan about how it could be better from her father’s side. In reality, this is just a way to ask for more dowries in the form of wedding gifts.
You won’t even realize that as minor an object as a particular cuisine they disliked can be a tool for offending the newly-wed and her father.
That means, at first, every family member on the groom’s side needs to receive wedding gifts by the girl’s father. After that, they bitch and whine about those favours matching their prestige or not. So, the crap goes on and on.
The dark part is yet not over.
There is one more fairly prevalent and venomous system of the arranged marriages in India — Mistreating and murdering girls if their fathers are not capable of paying the estimated money (dowry). This happens after the wedding when the groom’s side asks for more money as they never get contented with their wedding gifts. They annoy the girl emotionally and physically to ask for more money from her father.
Let’s face it; we all know what happens next. We all have read a lot of news published in the newspapers about the domestic abuse, marital rapes or mental and physical harassment by the in-laws for dowry.
The satire here is that time and again, the girl’s parents stay content that at least the person of their own caste is contriving their daughter.
So now, this is the ‘horrible reality’ of arranged marriages in alleged “Modern Indian Society.”
Taunts, emotional abuse, physical cruelty, killing woman for dowry or ‘forced-to-commit-suicide’ is an exposed reality of the Indian arranged marriages and culture. In fact, according to the Indian National Crime Record Bureau, by far, India has the maximum number of dowry-related demises in the world. All this in 2017 – Utter shame! This disgrace, together with the abuse of divorcees and bachelor’s, is perhaps the foremost reason for our ‘low divorce rates’. In all conscience, this is nothing of what we must feel proud.
So, tell me now – Is this normal? Is this acceptable?
I’m not against the Indian culture of arranged marriages. In fact, I’m a die hard fan of the amazing Indian customs and rituals. After all, even though this complete process is not easy at all, it’s inevitable that both of you are going to fall extremely in love forever (if you can survive the infinite teething troubles together). All the same, we can find so many happy arranged marriages in the pantheon of Hindu deities and divinities. But, every now and then, it’s beyond my mental power to understand the procedures, mechanics or functionalities of the arranged marriages in India.
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