‘Arranged Marriage’. This word itself sounds so incorrect. I mean, you can arrange a room, you can arrange a trip, you can arrange money, you can arrange business. How can you arrange a marriage? Unfortunately, Indians have been doing it since time immemorial! The show, Indian Matchmaking, has become a meme fest these days and fortunately, I have not watched it because – “Humse Na Ho Payega” (I can’t do it)! Because I do not like this concept at all.
So, take a deep breath and get yourself prepared for my humble rant.
First of all, this marriage doesn’t even acknowledge the fact that there is a thing called consent. Our elders give us a pep talk by saying, “Suno sabki karo mann ki”, but why don’t they openly say that this line doesn’t apply in case of marriage. Here, forget about asking for permission, they simply tell children to marry a particular person.
When they resist, the emotional drama starts. “Ab yahi din dekhna baaki reh gaya tha”, “Humari toh koi sunta hi nahi”, “Bache zyaada hi bade ho Gaye hai” (This was all that was left to see; nobody listens to us; The children seem to have grown up a tad bit too much) etc. Also, if they don’t think their child is mature and big enough, how can they even think of getting them married?
This emotional drama is still bearable, what about those cases where they coerce their child? We see it every now and then where parents and relatives forcefully arrange marriages for their children. Here, they only care about their ego.
This whole concept of arranged marriage is about satisfying the ego of elders. They are obsessed with filmy lines likes, “Keh diya toh Keh diya” (I said what I said)!
There are crores of couples in India who have married against their choice. For girls, it is worse. We have also seen couples who are very happy with the partners they got as a result of arranging marriages. I’m very happy for them but these cases form the minority. Also, many Indians do not even date because they know that in the end, it’s their elders who are going to decide their spouse. While we are talking about arranged marriages, let us also talk about quintessential requirements for an arranged marriage:
People in India are obsessed with caste. Intercaste marriages are considered a taboo. In villages, they are expelled from the village and also from the caste. In cities, they are not expelled but deep down inside, they are socially boycotted. People don’t want to invite them to social gatherings, people don’t want to associate with them. I will not name them but there was a politician who refused to help a person by saying, “Aapki ladki ne samaj se bahar shaadi karke poore samaj ka naam dooba diya” (Your daughter, by marrying outside her caste, has spoilt the name of our caste)!
There are millions of instances where people are beaten, lynched, outcasted, went into depression, committed suicide, forced to pay money to apologise for it etc. Some Indians are a bit ‘liberal’, they don’t care about the caste but they care about the religion! The classic amongst them: Hindu-Muslim marriage.I’m a Gond tribal and we also have requirements like – The person should belong to a Gond Tribe and within the tribe, there is a concept of ‘Deva (देव)’. Different surnames are categorised into different devas like 1 deva, 2 deva etc. People from an even-numbered deva must marry a person from odd-numbered deva.
I have seen so many people in my tribe getting upset because the person didn’t marry as per this convention. Here also, intercaste and inter-religion marriages are strictly prohibited. I remember a man from our tribe being boycotted and discriminated for the fact that he married a Muslim woman. He was not even allowed to touch the dead body of his elder brother because according to villagers – “Hindu ladki tak bhi thik thi, Muslim Kuch zyaada hi ho jaata hai” (It would still have been fine had he married a Hindu, marrying a Muslim is just crossing the limit)!
Some ‘progressive’ Indians want to eradicate the caste system but don’t want to promote intercaste marriage. Even Dr Ambedkar had asked to promote intermarriage to eradicate the caste system. But, people won’t understand this.
People are obsessed with money. Most families from the boy’s side are obsessed with money in the form of dowry and gifts. We have seen millions of crimes related to dowry. Going by the statistics, 21 lives are lost every day due to dowry. Not to forget, this data is pertaining to deaths; we can’t even imagine those cases which doesn’t lead to death. The obsession with money goes both ways.
For example- Most families from the girl’s side are obsessed with the salary of the groom. What makes me sad is that I myself have seen a lot of instances in my circle where people are ready to marry their daughters just by looking at the job of the groom. They don’t want to look into any other thing like his behaviour, his temperament, his mentality etc. All they care about is money!
I don’t want to talk about conservative families because we all know about them but I definitely want to talk about the so-called ‘modern’ families who want a working daughter-in-law but don’t one who does a lot of fieldwork. They want their daughter-in-law to be working but not ‘that much’ working.
First of all, most families don’t want a working daughter-in-law but even if they do, they can’t handle the fact that she is earning more than their son.
The first and foremost requirement of married couples must be compatibility. And, age is an important factor when it comes to compatibility. But, Indians don’t care. They are okay with an age difference of more than even 5 years! Also, according to them, when it comes to marriage, the bride must not be elder than the groom. They force people to marry before 30.
I don’t know why Indians are so obsessed with skin colour. We all have heard lines like, “Gora-chitta ladka thha”, “Sab toh thheek hai par ladki kaali hai” etc (The boy was so fair but the girl was black). People don’t realise but these things are not ‘casual’. These things enable racism. In arranged marriages, a boy can only marry a girl and vice versa. Forget about marriage, they don’t even acknowledge the fact that the LGBTQ community also exists.
This is a precondition mainly when it comes to daughters-in-law. We all have had a conversation with our elders that a woman should keep her virginity intact until her marriage. We all have heard the line, “yeh stree ka gehna hota hai” (This is a woman’s jewel, preserve it). You all must have seen Dil Bechara. Do you remember Kizie’s mother’s dialogue where she asked if her virginity is intact? There are thousands of examples from movies and personal life.
All the limits were crossed when a Virginity capsule was displayed on the website of Amazon, which helps them fake their virginity. This is so infuriating and I don’t know why Amazon allowed it in the first place!
I don’t understand why girls are always expected to be of short height as compared to their partners. Most of the people won’t believe it but there have been many instances where the marriage proposal was rejected because of the height of the girl. Even in movies, we hardly see a taller actress. Does anybody remember launch event of Tissot where captain Virat Kohli stood on a pedestal to look taller than the Tennis player, Kamran Kaur Thandi? This happens everywhere.
How can we forget about this requirement! Indians are obsessed with slim bodies and the same is reflected when they look for their daughter-in-law. Sometimes boys also face this. But, girls face this every time. Even in my own family, I have seen girls working hard to reduce body fat before marriage. I have seen disappointed in-laws for not having a slim bahu.
Most of us have seen the movie Dum Laga ke Haisha, one can see how fat daughters-in-law are emotionally tortured. Voluntarily reducing weight is another thing but reducing weight out of societal pressure is not acceptable. We must feel ashamed as a society for promoting only slim people.
Then there’s the expectation of girls being ‘sanskaari’. A girl is expected to be caring and humble. She must know how to cook food and take care of children; She should touch everybody’s feet and must be religious; She must not be alcoholic; She must not spend a lot of money; She must not be loud; She must not laugh openly; She must always wear Indian attire and the like.
There are so many conditions. Unfortunately, boys are hardly asked to do these things. Also, how have they come to the conclusion that these things make a person ‘sanskari?! There are so many things which are so wrong about arranged marriages, I don’t know where to start and where to end!
Matrimonial sites have made the situation worse. These sites openly promote casteism, racism and body shaming.
In arranged marriages, in the majority of cases, people are strangers. How do elders expect that their children would be comfortable in marrying strangers? People can’t even talk to strangers properly and Indians expect their children to get married and spend a night together immediately after marriage! Most of them end up having sexual intercourse. It is uncomfortable for both of them and especially for girls.
I agree that arranged marriages are bad for boys and girls both but it is worse for girls. Boys are still in an advantageous position when it comes to arranging marriages. Feel free to add more points which you feel I have missed.
Featured image source – https://www.mcall.com/opinion/mc-opi-arranged-marriage-lessons-20180904-story.html?outputType=amp