The End of Arranged Marriages?

March 27, 2010

I just had a conversation with a good friend of mine, who was telling me about how her marriage is being arranged by her parents. There were tons of details in the practice - the references, the presentation, the interview, the background investigation, the horoscope matching, the dowry negotiations (yeah, even I was surprised), etc etc etc. I was being nice for a long time, but finally, when I realized the conversation had no end, I stopped her and told her the truth – the very practice of arranged marriages annoys me, irritates me, makes my blood boil and what not crap. Needless to say, she hung up. It made me think, did I really say something that offending? I am just opposed to a stupid tradition, ironically being followed in a country whose people are actually proud of its cultures and orthodoxies.

Arranged marriages are like trying to find a job to satisfy your basic needs. First, you got to create a profile (nowadays online) to find a suitable bride/groom. Then the bride is being shown to the groom and interviewed (sometimes vice versa), and if the arrangement seems feasible and practical, the tons of negotiations and other formalities start. I wonder how such a crass and unforgivable practice is around for generations. There are seldom any emotions involved for the girl and the boy, except for getting a new friend, unfortunately for life. For the family, it’s an arrangement that suits everyone, hence permissions are being taken from the elderly before the arrangement is finalized. Marriages happen, they are even consummated on the first day (ewwww, its worse than having sex on the first date, only distinction being in the latter, they both know more about each other than in the former case), but do they really last? Statistics have shown that arranged marriages have a lower rate of divorce than a love marriage. But then, the issue here is equality.

Love marriages happen on the premise that both partners are consented, have an equal say on most matters and have a mutual respect for each other (what they don’t call Love). Can you say the same about arranged marriages? Hell no. There is always an imbalance of power. In the older days, women never had any say. In most of the rural places, and some urban places, they still don’t. It’s a mere slavery for them. But they are speaking up now. You will see more fights happening in arranged marriages because of the weak foundation they are based on. Give it a few more days (till our society liberalizes), and I personally guarantee that Indians with arranged marriages will put the divorce rate in America to shame.

But when will it really happen? The practice of arranged marriage is so deeply rooted in our system that we now have advertisements on televisions highlighting it. The commercial shows a married couple sitting at a railway station waiting for the train. The woman begins reminiscing about the time of her marriage, when everything about her wedding was 'arranged' by everyone around her. She comes back to the present when the train enters the railway station and she readies to enter it. Suddenly, she feels lost because she can't seem to spot her husband. Almost panicking, she heaves a sigh of relief after she spots him amidst the crowd. At that point, both, the man and the woman, seem to realize how much they love each other. Will all the couples in real life be lucky enough to find that true love?

Quit my job, and started a few businesses, I finally have time to do what I like the most - Write!
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