Many Americans are surprised when they hear that arranged marriage is still a common practice in countries like India. In developed countries, boys and girls start to date each other from high school and usually have sex at least couple of times, before they find themselves a partner for life. Finding a partner do not require assistance from family as they have been living independently since high school…. And the custom of frequent dating and a very open minded attitude towards building relationships with opposite gender makes it much easier and natural to find a partner for life.
In India, we have always been very conservative while building relationships with peers of opposite sex. Right from childhood, in schools, we are not allowed to mingle freely. Generally boys and girls sits in a different row.. Many like me, who studied in convent school or only-boys school often never get a chance to mingle freely with girls… Our parents too question us if we have a very close friend of opposite gender….
Also, the fact that we consider sex as a taboo subject in India, does not help while growing up. Sex education is often through whispering with friends and exchanging porn CDs and magazines while in college or just in last years of school.. Sex subject is a taboo in India.. But mind you, post-marital sex is not!! We manage to add a population of Australia every year, afterall… We taught the world the techniques of Kamasutra.. Ancient literature and historical evidence shows ancient India as more tolerant towards sex than the present one. It is believed that reservations towards sex was brought by Islam rule and British rule in India over past 1000 years, until India became independent.
Sex education is very much missing in Indian youth. Most of the information comes from uninformed and weak channels of communications and very often wrong perceptions are developed. Parents and teachers shy away from the subject and often think that they would have all the information till they are married off, as they themselves managed to do. Most of them eventually finds all information related to “sex”, however, the information comes in bits and pieces and many tend to miss required information, when they need it…. Questions like — Is masturbation a correct thing to do? is often argued among close friends and some of the myths may inhibit youth to explore pleasure of self-stimulation.. I still remember a friend of mine who told us that masturbation would lead to growth of hair on our palms… The point is, that youth should be given exposure to sexual education at appropriate age and Parents should be more responsible towards initiating talks with their son/daughter… If sex is not a taboo… the subject of sex should not be a taboo… Discussing about sex is not prohibited by any religion, as far as I know. It is neither a contradiction to the culture we follow.. Sex is a wonderful thing that no one should be shameful of or afraid to speak.
This conservative attitude of ours has resulted into arranged marriage as something being more prominent in India. Also, child marriages in Ancient India, led to practice of arranged marriage as the bride and groom were considered to be too small to decide their life partners and their families helped them in deciding the same..
So, what exactly is an arranged marriage, for someone who has not heard it before? In Ancient India, the families would hook up bride and groom based on family’s religion and social status. Generally, the bride and groom would not make any choice and would often marry someone, their parents found appropriate… However, the tradition is no longer followed in modern India. The arranged marriage now has a modern tinge to it and is getting sophisticated every day.
The family (often Mom and Dad) inform the larger family and other relatives and friends that his/her son/daughter is ready for marriage and is looking for an appropriate alliance.. Word spreads soon and discussions with families and friends about potential candidates takes place… Generally an auntyji helps in setting up the first meeting between the two families.. The boy and the girl meets for the first time… Often the first discussion is limited to education and job. Meanwhile, informal sources are used in parallel in full force to find more about the other family and the boy/girl…. If everything looks good, subsequent meetings are set up and generally, the boy and the girl gets a chance to check out each other in more relaxed environment like a Mall or a cinema or a coffee shop. If everything goes good (which at times include the horoscope and detailed family background checks), sweets are exchanged, followed by sagai (which means that they are committed to each other) and then marriage… The time between a sagai and marriage is often the true dating period… Marriage is not just union of 2 individuals but its a union of two families and their families to form a large Indian family
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Many people who do not have a large social circle uses Matrimonial websites and agencies which have mushroomed all over the countries. They perform the same job as a traditional “auntiji”. All in all, the entire process of an arranged marriage turns out to be a great drama which everyone enjoys…
Do we really need assistance of our parents in finding a potential soulmate is a very debatable question?? We will talk about it in some other blog entry… the pros and cons of arranged marriage… till then… cya… have a nice day…