I had an arranged marriage. We lived in Bombay that has become Mumbai now. I had finished my Masters and was teaching undergraduates for a year and a few alliances were coming in recommended by friends.
My father’s colleague had a sister in law in Chennai in whose house my to-be husband Raju lived upstairs as a tenant with his parents. As is the custom Raju and my horoscopes were exchanged and checked for a match. The matching of horoscopes is on 36 points and we were supposed to have matched in 30+ points according to my paternal uncle who was a great astrologer. However Raju was not keen on getting married and when my father visited his home he said no. On his horoscope my father wrote ‘Matches but boy says no marriage’. Then in a couple of days, the alliance was revived and I learnt that Raju’s parents gave him an ultimatum to get married…he was already 32 years old. I was 22 and he was not sure whether it would work.
He saw my photos and then along with his mother, he came to ‘see’ me which is a ritual in our tradition. We spoke for an hour. The only condition that Raju made was that he was an only son, his two sisters were married and he would look after his parents to which I agreed. The marriage contract was finalised in Chennai with family and friends—my brothers, Mum and I were not present and within 5 weeks the date of the wedding was fixed up in Chennai. My father’s friend, an industrialist had a few guest houses which he kindly gave us and the whole family went across to Chennai for the wedding. My maternal uncle was already in Chennai, having retired recently and my mother and I went across early to make all the purchases for the trousseau and gifts. My brother Barath, working in the UK at that time, came over.
Behind the scenes there were the usual family fights and spats, and a lot of drama that I came to know much later as people were trying to stop the wedding! Raju stood firm and we were married. Within a few months he was posted abroad on a prestigious assignment, he bought his first apartment and our son was born on the same day (unplanned) he bought a new Toyota car in Mauritius. I joined him and we spent the first few years
getting to know each other.
In a few years, his parents joined us, my mother too spent a year with us (having separated from my father) and then again when we came back to India she spent a lot of time with us. My father-in-law passed away and then my mother-in-law and mother lived together with us. They were good friends. Five weeks after my mother died, my mother-in-law too passed away..she missed the company I think.
End October, Raju and I, with God’s grace and blessings of our elders, complete 40 years of being together. Both our children had what we call ‘love marriages’ or getting married to partners of their own choice. Both our Maharashtrian son-in-law and Konkani speaking daughter-in-law are not Tamilians but are Brahmins. So the value systems are the same.
Of the four siblings, Ramana and Barath had marriages to partners of their own choice. My second brother Arvind and I had arranged marriages. Our children have had mostly ‘love marriages’ with only 2 arranged marriages.
In Raju’s family, in my children’s generation, they were the only ones to choose their own partners. All their cousins had arranged marriages. The third generation has started choosing their own partners.
In many Indian families arranged marriages are still the norm and in India, they are part of social milieu in India. In spite of people moving out of villages and migrating to other parts of India and abroad, the concept has survived. In fact it is estimated that about 90% of all marriages in India are still arranged, especially in the educated middle class.
Most marriages are arranged from the same social and economic background. Marriages are not merely between a man and woman in India. It is a solemn contract that is arranged between two families. Love marriages have been in existence and stories of romance and valour are to be found in the epics.
With women going to college and becoming part of the work force, the opportunities to meet partners and have ‘love marriages’ has risen. However, many men and women still prefer to have an alliance arranged between families. This is further endorsed by the couple not merely meeting ritually but also interacting with each other in social
environments on a one to one basis before marriage.
Today many families use the horoscope as a means of introduction and both sexes are given the right to choose their life partner without any kind of social pressure. There are many online matrimonial sites that help to put alliances together. Many children who go
away abroad to study/work also come back to marry partners initially chosen through the horoscope matching method.
Arranged marriages seem to offer more security to women. Parents use their experience and maturity to choose suitable spouses for their children. The mature decision of parents helps to make the right choice though sometimes they can go wrong too. In arranged marriage dowry and caste system do come into play.
There are very few opportunities for both men and women to meet suitable spouses in our social scene. Even in the west, matchmakers, dating organizations and websites are becoming popular to meet prospective partners. In India, the arranged marriage custom is flourishing and has worked very well for generations. It has already been tweaked to accommodate modern thoughts, demands and need for interaction between couples before they decide to marry.
Finally marriage, whether love or arranged has to be on the basis of empathy, responsibility, commitment, love and concern.
Welcome to the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where Akanksha, Anu, Ashok, Conrad, Delirious, Gaelikaa, Grannymar, Magpie11, Nema, Noor, Ordinary Joe, Paul, Maria the Silver Fox, Rummuser , Will Knott, and I write on the same topic. Please do visit the linked blogs to get seventeen different flavours of the same topic.
This week Conrad has set our mind’s on a reminescent trip based on thwe wedding that is on in his family.