No I am not going to talk about Justin Timberlake’s song here. I am here to address the big Indian elephant in the room – “Arranged Marriage”. The thought of arranged marriage seems weird to most of the western people.
When arranged marriage is brought up, they think about two set of parents, talking and deciding that their kids will get married in the near future. Well they are not wrong. At least not completely. Arranged marriage has gone through some major transition in India. And here is why I think the modern Indian arranged marriage might turn out to be very good after all.
History of Arranged Marriage
What I am typing here is all based on real life experiences that I have seen with my own eyes or have heard it in my family. So I did not research here, if you are expecting some kind of PhD thesis. Before two generations, the arranged marriage was ruthless. Ruthless is the right word since the bride and groom had no choice but to marry each other and spend the rest of their lives. They get to look each other only during the day of marriage. Isn’t it insane? Well it was also interesting I think considering these two people got to know each other a lot every now and then later, without getting bored and came to know about the good and the bad later. Either they could adjust and live happily or be stuck in an unhappy relationship and marriage forever (divroce was out of question).
Then came the era of meeting and selecting. This is how my parents got married. The bridegroom will go and checkout a girl about whom his parents have heard of (the girl usually doesn’t do it and waits at home for her prince to come and select her). Most probably he will already have an idea how she looks because of the photos printed out and kept for distribution (sounds weird). If the groom likes the girl, then they also ask the bride and if both agree then viola!! “Just married”.
Then came the present Internet era. This era is quite interesting. This is the era where I became an adult. Here we got introduced to few concepts. First one being “Love come arranged marriage”. People fall in love and then convince their parents that the partner they have chosen is good and right for them. And after their parent’s consent they get married. Second being the “Love marriage” has become a bit common now. But still not accepted widely, particularly if it is inter-caste and inter-cultural (North Indian marrying a south Indian) and if the horoscopes don’t match (this “rule” is broken many times nowadays). And the third one being “Advanced Arranged Marriage” or in short AAM.
How AAM Works
There are two types of AAM. First type in AAM is online where either the parent or the person who wants to get married creates an online profile or a profile to be distributed among friends/relatives. The profile includes date of birth, current job, status, little bit about yourself, dreams, aspirations, what you like and not like etc. Also includes data related to astronomy and horoscopes and family background (what parents are doing, how many siblings and what they are doing). You see, in India marriage is not just about one person coming and being with another person. It is two families coming together. They want to check what kind of background the boy or the girl was born and brought up with. If the parents are educated and decent enough without any bad habits (yes, we have some bad habits defined which includes drinking alchohol, smoking etc). And finally you also add some photos of yourself.
What happens next? People (parents or the person) like or mark favourites of profiles which they find interesting or attractive. Gold diggers go for good salary I guess and honestly most are gold diggers in real life (not just Indian). Some might just like the personality and get attracted. Few might like the attitude and aspirations and dreams and likes of an individual and click “favourite/like”. Next if the other person likes as well, then they can start talking via Skype, messaging/phone. Pairs can take 2 months to even a year. Until they realise they really like the other person and want to marry. Pairs meet in between as well to get to know each other more in detail and also have some reality check. Well the whole process can go in many different ways but in a nutshell, the fundamentals works this way.
The other part of AAM is, already knowing a person from outside (maybe they are son/daughter of some relative, they are attractive and also there is mutual respect and care between both the partners). Thus they decide to get married after getting to know each other more in detail.
During this whole process (whether online or the second part of AAM) attachment respect and sometimes even love grows and thus causing the bonds to form and making the man/woman understand that the other person is right for them. I agree 2months to 1 year is not enough to know a person, but why divorce happens then even after knowing a person for years in west? In AAM you might get to find new things about your partner every now and then which might be good or bad. Some find many new good things and it surprises them and makes life more interesting. On the other hand since the whole family was involved, breaking a marriage seems impossible if they found out bad things about their partner later. Then, they end up compromising and adjusting in this relationship. In AAM, marriage happens with a promise that the husband and wife will take care of each other until then end (and they do it as well). Thus, divorce rate in India is around 4%. It can be close to 10-15% if divorce was not looked in a bad way. But, still divorce rate will be low according to me since you look at a lot of things (the whole package) before marrying (it is like a business analysis). And after marriage you just need to adjust and compromise.
Now this might sound so weird and almost like doing a business deal. And I agree. Checking out a profile, looking at a person’s appearance and job and salary and then starting the conversation for me is certainly a business. But think again? Isn’t this familiar to you? Isn’t what happens in West as well although indirectly? Not always but mostly?
Let’s look at some scenarios starting from the rare to more frequent ones
Love marriage from Tinder Or Other Dating websites online
Yes it happens. I have few friends who are dating now after finding their partner on Tinder/Lovoo/Baadu. Heck, some of them even move on to get married. In Tinder people rarely read profiles and just like/dislike someone based on their appearance and their attractiveness towards them. I would say AAM is better (but who am I to judge??). There are some dating websites similar to AAM and in those scenarios, I guess both of them are equal.
Meeting at a Club
This is similar but at the same time different than Tinder. Here the choosing happens in real life where people look at potential partners based on their looks or dancing skills or craziness. Most people usually don’t meet after that night similar to Tinder (isn’t it for ONS?), but some end up dating and even marrying. Well still, I would say AAM is better.
Meeting Anywhere Else
The final scenario is meeting in a shopping mall, in a bar, in a music class, in school, college etc. Here again attraction is the major part which plays the role. But sometimes people also like based on values or attitude or personality (maybe someone sings really good and you just get attracted to them singing, or the guy is very brave and kind etc) but that’s just rare nowadays. But my personal feeling is without attraction, a relationship can’t survive long. The attraction doesn’t have to be necessarily based on an objective appearance based attraction. Looks are subjective. But as long as you find someone good looking, attraction stays.
Maybe they end up dating or having sex as well and then feel the company of the other person good. Depends on the priority. But overall compatibility matters. In AAM where compatibility as well as overall lifestyle is taken into consideration before proceeding, in this scenario sometimes compatibility, sometimes looks, sometimes status, sometimes money, sometimes nothing (some people are just desperate for a relationship, right?) is taken into account for relationship. People might not look at the overall package, because they are not planning a marriage here but just want to be with someone they might like or admire for the things they bring or not bring in a relationship (unhappy relationships). They get attached and maybe end up marrying. Maybe with time they realise they are missing other things in the relationship which they did not look at (partner not having a good job, having bad habits, being abusive, cheating, money minded, bad family etc). Divorce might happen (average is around 40-50%). If the points I mentioned which is checked in AAM is missing and previously ignored, but found necessary by the partner then they are part of unhappy relationship and end up separating. But some of them go on to live happily because they are ready to ignore the other things missing and accept the partner the way they are and ready to compromise.
If you look at the whole situation you will find few things in common:
- AAM is not that different than what happens in the West on so many levels.
- Love is overrated. Just accept it. Love happens with mutual respect, care and attraction. And it takes time. Whether AAM or meeting in real life.
- AAM is a calculated first step in a relationship. There is a lot of analysis involved along with lots of people who come together for this huge festival. Compared to traditional relationship in west which might or might not be analysed and thus has higher chances of failing and being unhappy
- Either you must compromise/sacrifice or break up and move on, no matter if it is arranged or love marriage.
Now you might be thinking, that I am quite biased here. Or maybe the overall tone of the article seems like AAM is better. But that’s not it. Both have their flaws and cons. What is love? Love can happen also in AAM. Analysis about a relationship or a partner can be done also in the “western love” which might lead to compromise or breakup (in my case). Overall, what I am trying to tell here is, stop looking at AAM in a depraved way. Like it is some sort of stupidity or weird thing to do. As you can see, it has many advantages and similarities to what happens everywhere in the world. Like Justin Timberlake says, it’s not a bad thing.