By Amalia Theocharidou,
But what is an arranged marriage? It is the procedure conducted by the parents of the eligible bachelors and bachelorettes, according to which, a decision is made by them and only, on whether their kids shall be married. In order to achieve that, they can either simply spread the word that they’re looking for a partner for their kids, or hire a professional matchmaker who gathers up information about the possible companions. The future bride and groom have no contact throughout the entire process and they’re only called to present themselves at the arranged time and place so that the first meeting of the pair can take place, of course under the companionship of the parents. After spending some time together, it is the time of the two sides of the family to huddle and discuss on their children’s compatibility and finalize the wedding.
What is interesting to take a look at, is the criteria that make a pair “compatible”. Religion, to begin with, plays an important role as it is determinant for the families to stay in their religions’ communities. Right after, castes, which are the divisions of the Hindu religion and to that, the bride and groom are preferred to belong in the same one. Culture and education, so that both sides have the same ethics. Horoscopes. The zodiac signs are actually one the most important factor which indicates the outcome of the wedding. Vedic Astrology is the used method, that is comprised by thirty six points and at least eighteen should be matching, in order for the couple to marry. What follows is a talk about the professional state of the groom as well as an appraisal on the looks of the bride, with the skin tone being one of the most important factors, as light-skinned girls are highly appreciated instead of more dark toned ones. For the men, this part is as simple as to do not be having any serious conditions.
- “Is arranged marriage a common phenomenon in India?” I ask Yashvi, an Indian teenager.
“Yes, it is very common. Most of the people here have an arranged marriage. Unless you’re in a relationship already, the elders find you a partner” she replies as she informs me she’s familiar to the phenomenon, as it has been existing in her family as well.
- “Is there a procedure that must be followed? What is it?”
“Yes, mostly the family does all the work. When you reach a certain age, they start asking you when you’re going to marry and all. They start looking for a suitable partner through newspapers (there’s a separate column in the newspaper for that, mentioning that they’re looking for a partner to marry. It has the person’s photo, their name and basic details like their age, job, religion, horoscope and all), or through community apps or relatives or just some person who sets up marriages” she explains as she refers afterwards to the already stated criteria. She also underlines the influence of the priests to the arrangements of the many rituals involved to the engagement and marriage process.
- “How do you feel about arranged marriage? Would you accept it?”
“I feel like it does give you an assured and stable life. The main point of arranged marriages is to find a suitable partner who’s well educated, financially stable and can provide you the needs and means to live. The adults prefer it only because it’s assured that you’ll live a good married life. The only thing they want is that when you’re married, you have someone dependable, so they run background checks and get involved in this whole process of getting you married. Their intension is only for you to have a better life ahead” Yashvi, although, separates her beliefs, “I think love plays an even bigger role than just being financially stable or being compatible by the horoscopes. Personally, I would not accept an arranged marriage”.
- “How do you think your peers feel about it?” I ask her.
“Most of my friends also choose love marriage over arranged marriage. You get to choose who you want to spend your life with and have that much right over your life. The opinions on arrange marriages also depend on the ages of people” she exclaims as she accentuates the difference between elders and teenagers.
- “If you could, would you change the custom? Or not? And why?”
“It does give you a stable life financially, but in most cases where the two people were just forced to marry each other because of an arranged marriage, there’s a lot of fights and disagreements. But there’s also cases where it works out well. I wouldn’t change it, because it does give you a good partner who can support you. The thing is that you should only agree if you truly like the person, not just because of the pressure of marrying someone. You should get to know them well.”
- Lastly I ask her, “Do you believe couples of arranged marriage are/can be happy?”
She takes her time to reply, “It depends on how well they get along together. If the couple is well educated, cultured and has good communication and understanding, it works out well. I think they can be happy if they get to know each other well before marriage. It’s important to find the right person through this”
As India is becoming a center of economic growth and is now the most overpopulated country on the Earth, it is normal that practices like those come to light. The Asian country is now under the microscope of many social scientists wishing to crystalize the complicity of the traditions and customs based completely on the deep roots of the elders’ beliefs. It is now an individual’s matter to decide, whether love can be “destined” or “arranged”.
- Arranged marriage. culturalindia.net. Available here