Some of my friends here are surprised by the notion that ‘Arranged Marriage’ exists even today. But those of you, whose roots are originally Indian, can very well relate to the main type of marital union back home. Smirking huh? Oh, that topic again! Been there, done that.
For my Non-Indian friends here, arranged marriage is ARRANGED by everyone other than the actual couple. The families come together, judge each other and finally agree that the guy and girl would be a perfect jodi (couple) and get them married off. Sometimes the couple doesn’t even meet each other until the wedding ceremonies begin.
Before your eyebrows shoot up any further, let me tell you that the trend has changed quite considerably nowadays. Traditions have become a little relaxed and the would-be couple is allowed to meet each other and talk for a while before giving the nod. And yes, the willingness is considered by both the parties. So, it’s not that bad a situation huh? Let the parents do all the research and we can relax and go on arranged dates (well not actually dates because the families are waiting right outside the open door and a little cousin is present for propriety’s sake).
Overall, it’s not such a bad notion if we have the power to say No, right? But it’s not that simple actually. There is a whole drama associated with seeing the different matches. Let me take you directly to some of these instances.
A tall guy comes in with his father and aunt. Drinks and snacks are served and after the small talk, both parties come to the main topic. Well educated, a professor by profession in one of the most happening cities of India, no mother-in-law, an only son, quite well off, no demand of dowry and so on. The checklist was very favourable indeed. Until the guy opened his mouth. He just had a single condition. The wife would stay with his father in his hometown, taking care of the household as the lady of the house had passed away a while back. They wanted someone who could change their house into a home again. The guy would be visiting often from down South (that could quite well mean twice a year or maybe thrice if he gets enough day offs from his University). One can only laugh at such a situation, but the uncomfortable silence at the gathering gave them the answer they deserved. There are so many agencies where you can hire excellent domestic help, why do you need to spend so much on a lavish wedding instead?
Another favourite of mine is a lady who walked in suddenly and we had to rush and arrange the snacks for them. The match-maker (there is actually a well-acquainted lady whose favourite pastime is matchmaking) send an apologetic look for coming unannounced. The first question the potential mother-in-law asked was to this effect- “Is your girl tall or is she like you?” Since I inherited my height from my father, my Mom was shocked at the blunt comment on her height. The matchmaker was quite embarrassed and she intervened. The next question about my skin colour finalised that it was time for them to leave. It seemed the lady had come in for shopping and wanted certain features in her would-be daughter-in-law. My Mom and I had a very good laugh afterwards.
After going through various mismatches, I can surely say that I have had enough. Some don’t expect their bahus (daughter-in-laws) to work after marriage, some advise me to lose weight, some want a fairer skin tone, some don’t like my height, while others comment on my dressing style. Getting over the silliness of this all, I try to see the bright side of this whole matchmaking drama. As long as such families keep my parents occupied, I can live freely for a few more years and fulfil my dreams 🙂 Besides, I do appreciate a good laugh now and then.
I am not saying that all arranged marriage attempts are as pathetic. Some families are genuinely good but its just not meant to be, due to various other reasons. Let me be completely honest about the statistics related to arranged marriages. In India, where most of the unions are pre-arranged, the divorce rate is the lowest in the world at 1.1%. Whatever the reasons are for this, it does say a lot about the tradition of a marital union that faded away from the other parts of the world by the end of 18th C.
So, all those out there who are going through similar experiences, we should definitely catch up and compare notes on who got the funniest story so far 😛
Image copyright with the Artist- SoulPancake