One hundred percent?

The student had almost dropped her jaws to the floor when she asked that. "Oh yes, arranged marriages are one hundred percent a reality in India and most of the Indian subcontinent, I think" --- I had said. I was having the conversation with a Romanian girl from my research group while we had gone for an outing after our semester was over. And she seemed scandalized. I had to clarify my statement... "Well, the point is, an arranged marriage is an option for every young man or woman in India if they don't find a partner themselves".

We had been discussing a lot of issues that afternoon. Stereotypes such as "Asian/Indian men are shy" or "Indian women don't cheat" and many such things. It was quite interesting, sitting in a group that had one person from India, one from Romania, one Chinese one Bulgarian and one American student, and discussing these issues. From a larger or a global perspective, it was really interesting to find that the concept of an 'arranged marriage' didn't really exist beyond our borders. Yes, people from other countries do meet occasionally through their parents: but the whole issue of matchmaking is a completely different game here. So, when I tried to explain that I grew up like a thousand other young boys around me sound and safe in the belief that when the time to marry comes up and if I haven't found anyone by then, my parents will be there to find a good girl for me; it was really inconceivable for them.

I had to explain the whole concept of families meeting, background checks, boy meeting girl and then a longer time and list of subsequent meetings. I had to confirm for them that the first person you meet is not your only choice... people sometimes take years looking for the 'right' person. I also learned about their cultures: how dates are set up, how they meet people and how they also try to spend a long time with each other before the question of marriage comes up. But the conversation had also set me thinking about the stereotypes and the whole debate of the arranged versus love marriage, etc.

As I understand it for now, the reason why Indian men/women are considered shy by these people is that we don't have the evolutionary pressure to be able to find someone for ourselves, by ourselves. At the back of the head, we would always know that someone will be available through our parents and we can use that option. We see all through our childhoods about the innumerable arranged marriages working around us, with almost zero divorce rates, and so there is no reason to not count on that as a backup option. Besides, ours is a pretty conservative society and in a way, divorce is rarely an option. Education and awareness are spreading, yes... but it will be a long time before we land into rates such as the UK where 1 in 3 marriages break up.

It works both ways, for guys as well as girls. Both the sexes have marriage and commitment jitters, and both of them are on the constant hunt for the good partner: if possibly for life. Therefore, in places where the concept of an arranged marriage doesn't exist, websites advertising "how to catch him and keep him", or "what a girl looks for in a date" are popular. Girls here in the US do therefore have to find the right guys for themselves, and so do the boys, vice versa. In India on the other hand, the need doesn't exist so strenuously and therefore the taboo impositions on girls against "encouraging" men are in vogue.

The other important point is perhaps peer pressure. If everyone in your colony has a boyfriend, or the whole gang of guys you go and play soccer with have girlfriends: you will feel the necessity of getting someone in your life: somehow it adds to the coolness factor. More importantly, at that time, nobody really thinks of marriage and all --- it is just a relationship of calling someone your better half. We all know how to adjust and get along with people in our lives for the rest of it after we're married --- it doesn't really matter unless you end up with someone of the completely obnoxious variety. I personally think that you fall in love with a person you meet through your parents because a) your backgrounds and therefore (hopefully) personality types match, b) you think it is about time you fell in love and c) the sexual drive is also at work! The actual "find" of someone rarely happens: this find in itself should trigger off the feelings of love and protection and romantic advances; not the other way round. I also think that most 'love' marriages are in effect an arranged marriage, the matchmaker being the peer pressure, the media image and all: how else do you explain the largest percentage of relationships from the same classroom or locality? It is not good or bad, just that they prove to me that essentially one adjusts in any relationship. Perhaps, that explains the whole deal with divorces in the Western societies as well.

And then of course there was the whole issue of pre-marital sex. We discussed among ourselves and found that everywhere, the more conservative a society is or the more the rules against it exist: the more rampant it is. India I think is in a middle stage somewhere: conservative by many counts but much more liberal than many other nations. But still --- the issue of finding someone who is attractive naturally is the crux of the matter: when the personalities attract, not by peer pressure or the media image but because the attraction is natural amongst humans... that I believe is the foundation of a true love marriage.

P.S. - Look at the google ads on the left: I knew it!! :D

Comments

  1. "Oh yes, arranged marriages are one hundred percent a reality in India and most of the Indian subcontinent, I think" the jaws of me dropped too! thats not true!

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  2. What Sudipta meant by 100% was that the fact is true, not that the coverage of marriages being arranged was 100%.

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  3. interesting! i guess being in texas now gives you a whole new detached perspective on your culture

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  4. what u say is true..but all marriages in india are not successful coz of it being arranged but coz of divorce being a taboo..although i m generalizing a bit here!

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  5. heyy mann... wat is this!! i open ur blog aft around a week n so surprised that i wanted to comment w/o even readin this post! tats a good look der! nice..
    BTW chk tis out
    http://www.ibnlive.com/videos/43096/writeblogsearnuptors1lakh.html

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  6. http://www.ibnlive.com/videos/43096/
    writeblogsearnuptors1lakh.html

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  7. absolutely cool!! somehow its weird here looking for the 'right' partner for yrs, going on bargaining over the characters. but that speaks bout the image for most :x

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  8. Ricercar, yeah... I see what the confusion was. I am saying that the reality is 100%: meaning it does exist. I'm not saying that all marriages (i.e. 100% of them) are arranged marriages.

    Hari, thanks for clarifying that --- I thought it was pretty clear from the rest of the post.

    Rajarshi, it does, actually!

    Pallavi, yes thats true actually. We're allowed some generalizations :)

    Janum, thanks for the compliments about the template. Will see the video link you gave here. And I agree with what you say on the post as well --- pehle darshan dhari peechhe gun vichari!

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  9. P.S. - Janum, wow... I can make money too! :( But well... who cares... if they want to place an ad on my site... they're welcome. :D

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  10. The arranged marriage question is always a given at any such international meetups. I'm starting to get a bit bored of them now.

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  11. well my marriage sure confuses people..

    when i tell them i had an arranged marriage with a white guy. i cant count the double takes!

    My husband is more Indian than i am.. and when i say that i mean he thinks the way Indians do more than i do and i found that really refreshingly different from the stereotypes that are created about americans... which is why Ed tells me that he was a loner most of his life here!! go figure.

    i was so glad that my parents did all the hunting for me.. i grew up in an extremely non - arranged marriage kinda scenario and for years my parents waited patiently to stop being finicky and PICK a guy already... i think girls in India these days are waiting for something else in a guy...beyond all the indian cliches of a guy and girl getting hitched...i guess.. which is why most girls my age werent getting married at the age their parents wanted them to...

    then Ed dropped out of the sky and i cant thank my parents enough.

    but ofcourse.. arranged marriages only work if the parents really truly want their son/daughter to be happy WITHOUT getting their own wants in the way.

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  12. Patrix, now that you mention it, yeah --- this does seem to have been a common dinner conversation topic in the UK as well! BTW, I believe you're visiting here for the first time: so welcome!

    Grafxgurl, yes, I'm happy for you as life turned out to be. Thanks for such a beautiful comment --- you confirmed my beliefs.

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  13. Amongst the other things, one thing that I strongly believe about this post is your mention of peer pressure. It is indeed very taxing to hang around with people who al have girlfriends and boyfriends. And while the phenomena wasn't so rampant during your days in college, this time around...its better to have either an all single-girls group or an all couples group. Being a lone person in a couply-couply group...it takes its toll!! :D

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  14. What to say? Whether marriage is arranged or a love match is not important but how the couple work out the differences and smoothen the rough patches. One can find a moron of a partner in any marriage.Most of the dowry deaths happen in arranged marriages and dowry figures prominently in marriages arranged by parents.

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  15. the task of 'finding'someone jus to settle social impositions is never successful (almost !)..true love has no prerequisites at all !!..its like one of those things which ' jus happen' widout u havin a clue bout it..wat u wrote about d significance of arranged marriage in indian society is very true..it reminds d indian youth..'its time'..not jus to enjoy d joys of being in a relationship but to move on in life by entering a new phase..this's d reason behind d low divorce rates..nice post :)

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  16. Ellie, thanks... looks like the next trip to the college will be interesting (whenever that is)! :D

    Alka, well said! And yes, dowry is an unfortunate and ugly reality.

    Lavender, thanks! You captured the gist of the post so well. :)

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  17. i guess arranged marriages are a back-up plan that r society here makes available for us.. :D

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  18. Di, yep... a hundred percent so! :)

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  19. i am sorry to say but you can't generalize that. what you have stated above is not 100% right. there are people who got married arranged and are so happy. it's the kind of love bonding you get it after marriage and it's there in Indian tradition. i wanna ask you. u have emphasized so much on Indian arranged marriages how about love marriages in west...... DOES THAT WORK???????? all the time????? there is no botheration in there culture. thank you for shearing your post.

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  20. Rumela, I don't think I understand your (rather spirited) comment. From your comment it seems like I said that arranged marriages don't work (or have to be kept up mostly because of social pressure). Also, it seems as if I've suggested that love marriages work very well in the west.

    I strongly advise that you should read the post again. Welcome to the blog, btw.

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  21. Nice post! Thanks for sharing! http://www.matrigle.com

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