Traditionally, in India, parents arranged marriages for their wards almost like how they selected the kindergartens they send their kids to and there was no two words to how this was done. Children finding their own partners were usually chided by the society and that’s how the strange term “love marriage” originated in India. It was only recently that I discovered that love marriage is an Indian nuance when it took quite a bit of explaining to clarify this to a foreigner. However, today, we have come a long long way from there to now thinking that its the ward’s responsibility to find his/ her own partner and so, this is how the conversation typically goes –
“So son, you have not managed to get MS seat after trying for 4 years now, its time we started searching for a bride for you before its too late. You’re 25 now and if we start now, we’ll be able to get you married by 27. Are you ready? (dad crossing fingers hoping that son has loved someone on his own)”
“Sure, dad, I’m ready!”
“Son, if there’s someone you like, we’d be happy to arrange your marriage with her”
“No dad, there’s no one!”
“Are you sure?”
“Of course I’m sure!”
“This is unbelievable! All boys your age have managed to find girls on their own. Forget MS seat, you couldn’t even manage to love a girl? Alright, this also, we’ll only take care!”
I am a bit old school maybe, I always believe that marriages are more than two individuals coming together, its about two families coming together. If it wasn’t for this, how else would either Karthik or me have the blessings and oversight of so many motherly and fatherly figures in our lives? Even if we live thousands of miles away from all of them today, all by ourselves, these are the people that keep us grounded and we see the influence of these families in our values and how we live. After all, we first learn to be husbands and wives from our parents. This reaffirms my faith in a marriage being beyond that of just two individuals coming together. Its almost like companies acknowledging the contribution of families to the performance of their employees.
As we move farther away from our families and for much longer, we begin to value this lesser and lesser. That’s probably why parents play a non existent role in partner selection since kids move away from families very early on. This is not uncommon among Indian friends who moved out of home when they were 16-17 and who’ve been away from families for so long that they don’t even see the traces of their upbringing anymore. But why do some of us free independent modern people like us who have lived away from our parents still let them manage our matrimonial profiles and do the sourcing?
So, essentially, there are just two kinds of people who go through he arranged marriage process – the ones who don’t manage to find themselves a partner on their own and those who’ve found one in the past and it hasn’t worked out. So, arranged marriages are just bail outs offered by parents to their wards today. Nothing more. But are arranged marriages dying? No, not as long as we have the opportunity to fall in and out of many relationships (thanks to tinder and the likes!), we will definitely need help finding a long term partner. Do the math and see, how many people would be single and at a marriageable age at any given point of time and you’ll realise, there’s still a large segment of the population that still has no choice but to gain some faith in arranged marriages.
P.S – About 15-16 years ago, after the success of a friend’s daughter’s wedding, my generally liberal thinking mother jokingly declared to me at home “Naanu ninge love marriagey madsodu (I will arrange a love marriage for you)”.