Marriage before Love?
Marriage before love? Who thinks that question is ridiculous? How can one get married without falling in love?
Boy and girl meet, they date for a while, boy asks girl for her hand in marriage, girl says yes, they get married and “live happily ever after”. Whether ever after is a few weeks, few months or for a few years depends on many factors. This is generally how a relationship grows, do you not agree?
However, there are three different ways to get to “live happily ever after” – love, arranged or semi-arranged marriages. Today I’m not going to discuss love marriages, you see versions of that concept in movies all the time; I will talk about arranged and semi-arranged marriages. And what better marriages than Indian marriages.
Let’s begin with arranged marriages:Many moons ago, roughly 1902, arranged marriages were very common in India. Marriages generally happened for economical reasons. Women did not work and hence would not be able to survive on their own. Men wanted children for either farming reasons or to allow their names to carry forth for the next generation.
It was convenient for the parents to look for a suitable match for their child. Now if you were a girl, you only studied till grade 5-6 like my grandmother or grade 10 like some of my aunts. Once you hit 14-15, time to look for the groom.
My grandmother’s sister got married at 16, when it was legal. My grandmother at 19 and my mother got married at 20. The parents would ask their relatives and friends if they knew anyone suitable for their son/daughter. What is suitable?
Groom: Someone who owns a farm, works or has his business. Want someone who is from a good family background.
Bride: Someone who can cook and is from a good family background.
Usually someone knew someone and you would have a middle man (also known as aunties) who would know both the families. This is why and how marriages took place.
But as in all traditions and rituals, it carried on to the present and people forgot why arranged marriages began in the first place and if they are even needed today.
Now depending on the family you either have arranged or semi-arranged marriages.
There are families, like mine, that allow love marriages, but you still involve families. Three of my cousins had love marriages, but families knew each other from a few months into the relationship. They all got married between the ages of 25-27.
Marriages still take place for economical reasons, but it has slightly become more complicated.
Let me explain:
India has grown to over 1.1 billion people and they all no longer are in India alone. You have Indians dispersed everywhere in the world. Take me who is in Arnprior and believe me not many people know Arnprior even exists. Can you imagine?
So, for example, my mother can not ask our relatives to look for a match for me because would an Indian guy from India be able to understand me? – Of course not – he has an illusion of what western culture is like, but hasn’t lived in it.
Hence, the arranged marriage system works for those whose relatives all live in or around the same city/country. For ‘singles’ like me, you need a global network because I don’t have many family & friends here. What better global network that the internet? You knew I couldn’t leave technology out, didn’t you?
Here is the list: Shaadi.com; Shadi.ca; JeevanSathi.com; BharatMatrimony.com.
These are equal to sites like match.com, lavalifes, enetworks.com etc. Shaadi.com is the best one. Now the “suitable” match definition has expanded. Within these websites you create resumes:
Groom/Bride: skin color (dark, fair, fairer), education, career, caste, hobbies/interests, marital status (divorced, widow, single), children, smoker, drinker etc.
Whether the family background is good or not is not even looked at so deeply. The middle man/auntie is the website, parents are slightly involved unless they are the ones looking and there is a time period of either a few weeks or months where the potential groom and bride are courting.
You begin by emailing and sending each other your resume and photograph. Then you meet for coffee and exchange phone numbers. If things are still going well, you move onto several dates (mostly 3-4 before parents start asking whether it’s a yes or no). You then have parents meet, get engaged and lastly prepare for your marriage.
The process could last as little as 3 months or as long as few years. It depends on your communication skills and on how well you know what type of person you want to marry. This is the semi-arranged concept of marriages.
India is becoming more westernized now-a-days so you hear more about love marriages, but age 25 is still considered perfect for marriage. Afterwards everyone starts worrying that you are getting too old. Did you notice that I haven’t even spoken about the actual wedding? We haven’t even gotten to those steps yet.
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