Runaway brides?


TYING THE KNOT Can wait   | Photo Credit: PHOTO: AFP


May be it's education, may be it's career. Or, just the need for independence. As young women postpone marriage, the queue of men waiting to be wed gets longer, writes HEMA VIJAY

There was a time when parents with daughters were a pitied lot — it was considered a Herculean task to ‘get girls married off' or ‘find a good groom for the girl'. This idea has, of course, been whipped threadbare in countless Tamil films. But now, looks like it's time for a remake — with a twist.

Check out matrimonial sites and centres, and you will find that today it is brides who are hard to get. Many matrimonial centres have a long list of grooms waiting for brides, while it's not the case with brides. For every 200 boys registering for marriage every month, only about 50 women register, says Rukmini Sriraman of Divyadhampadigal, a 30-year-old horoscope-matching centre.

“It is good, isn't it?” asks Murugavel Janakiraman, founder-CEO, “It merely reflects the changing socio-economic status of women. Twenty years ago parents called the shots in marriage,” he says. But now, girls are exercising their rights, and do not flinch from saying ‘no'. And, why not?

Broad outlook

Girls are educated, work, earn and have a broad outlook on life. Parents too understand that they can't force their decisions on their daughters.

Not that these girls want to leave their parents out of the picture. Far from it. In fact, many girls want the couple to stay with the bride's parents after the wedding.

“Girls refuse to move to the cities where the boys live, not willing to give up their families or careers. Many of these girls ask the boys to give up or change jobs, and move to their home cities,” says Rukmini.

However, the chief reason for this wait for brides is the declining sex ratio, feels Saranatha Gopalan of Divyadhampathigal. “Because of the one-child norm and the continuing fixation for male children, the number of girls has plummeted,” he says.

Offshore alliances are also not so hot now, as instances of NRI grooms being fraudulent keep surfacing. “Also, as most girls complete their Masters, the not-well-educated boys find it difficult to get alliances, despite taking home a decent pay,” points out Sulochana Raj of Marriage Today, a marriage alliance centre.

There is another factor that contributes to the lengthening queue on the men's side —girls postponing marriage for career. “Earlier, the average age of the girls registering for marriage was 18 to 23. Now it is 23 to 26; may be more. Girls want to accomplish milestones in their careers before settling down for marriage,” Murugavel observes.

It gets you thinking. And, a whole lot of questions emerge — Is this just about statistics or does it signify anything?

Is the Indian patriarchal set-up slowly giving way to a matriarchal set-up? Are women slowly, but surely, gaining an upper hand?

Are fewer numbers of women putting themselves up on the marriage market? Are women no longer seeing marriage as the logical conclusion of life?

Are more women finding their husbands outside the traditional marriage market, while more men stay in it?

Well, we'll need a survey to find answers. But, obviously, times are changing...

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