Open Page

Changing arranged marriage

In the ‘pick and click’ online world, the arranged marriage system has assumed a new avatar. What’s different now is the wide range of choices, the independence to explore options and the ease of interaction, all of which indicate a clean break with a conservative past.

I remember a day in the mid-1970s when a match-maker (known as marriage broker) handed over a few horoscopes matching my own to my father to go through in detail. There were some photos of the would-be grooms too that didn’t quite impress me, so I was a bit too vocal about my views. Soon, I was summoned to the kitchen by my no-nonsense mother who was waiting to impart a home truth to me in a fierce whisper, “Now, if you’re looking for someone like the hero in your Mills & Boon novels, then forget it! Such a guy wouldn’t give a second glance at you or me. So, let’s be realistic, shall we?” I then confronted her with the possibility of me being rejected by the ‘non-heroes’ as well but she assured me that they too would’ve been counselled suitably on the impracticality of seeking a Miss World for a bride. That’s it! With little choice in the matter, it would remind one of the plight of a pair of frogs united in wedlock by villagers for the sake of a good monsoon — in the case of humans, to fulfil a duty.

Today’s parents are more like facilitators, maintaining a respectful distance and enabling their children to determine their own future for themselves. In contrast, parents of an earlier generation were constant worriers who couldn’t let go of their control over the situation. Most of the times, they monopolised the entire show, right from choosing a partner for their children to deciding on the place of their honeymoon. Meantime, they wouldd also remember to come out with a list of don’ts for the soon-to-be-married bride or groom in order to ensure appropriate behaviour before the prospective in-laws, at least until the time the knot was tied. I recall no less than two commands on D-Day, “Don’t giggle too much like an over-eager bride. Let there be self-restraint!” and “No jabbering unnecessarily till all the rituals are over!”

In such a rigid atmosphere, romantic notions, if any, between the couple would’ve fallen flat along with the jokes and jibes made at their expense by fun-loving friends and cousins. In effect, the whole ceremony was like a project that needed to be completed on time to everyone’s satisfaction. Once the rituals came to an end, there was more in store for the young couple. They were expected to go around the wedding hall and prostrate themselves before every elderly attendee in order to receive their blessings. No wonder, by the end of the day, their smiles remained frozen on their lips without reaching their eyes due to aching knees and feet.

Imagine the pang of regret I had, when in a recent wedding function, I heard the priest announce through the mike, “All you elders in the hall, please assemble in front of the stage and be ready to bless the young couple who will do only one common ‘namaskaram’ before you all as it’s more than enough!” How quick and easy — no strain, no pain! Here’s one more reason for the present-day newly weds to believe that marriages are indeed made in heaven.

saraswathi100@yahoo.com


Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | May 23, 2022 5:38:52 am | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/changing-arranged-marriage/article38273584.ece