Arranged Marriages in India
The concept of arranged marriage may sound impractical to the Western world, but in India, it is a usual norm. No matter how westernized India may have become, arranged marriages are still viewed as the most preferred choice in the Indian families. This kind of marriage has its roots laid to the time, when the ritual of child marriage prevailed in the country. Child marriage was essentially performed, so as to restrict the children from marrying outside their community and social status. The practice was essentially a way of uniting and maintaining the difference between the rich upper class society and the poor lower class society. This practice of caste system gave rise to the concept of arranged marriages.
Present Scenario of Arranged Marriages in India
Earlier, an arranged marriage in India was seen as a way of promoting caste system or racism. It was just a tool for the upper caste people to protect their community and to maintain their social status. As such, they married their children to the person of the same caste or same social background. The practice eventually passed on to the lower caste as well, where it is used for the same purpose. The rituals and customs of arrange marriages in India vary depending on the caste and religion of the people. The system, though very old, still is one of the most prevalent practices performed and has today, become synonymous with the Indian society and culture. The only difference with the yesteryears is that it is less rigid than that practiced in the past.
Pros & Cons of Arranged Marriage
Talking about arranged marriage, there are many pros and cons that are associated with it. One of the positive aspects about arranged marriages is that it gives the parents utmost control over family matters and members. Since they are the ones who would decide on the prospective bride and groom, they would get someone, who is the best for their son/daughter. On the other side, arranged marriages are seen as a medium to promote racism and class system. Also, they have proved to be the best medium to take dowry. Over the years, arranged marriages have posed to be more like a trade than a social custom. People find it an easy medium to make money.
While the above negative aspects can still be dealt with, one of the most crucial drawbacks of arranged marriage is that the boy and the girl do not know each other. Two unknown people get married without knowing and understanding each other, as according to the concept, it is not important to know your partner before marriage. As such, chances of not gelling well with the partner are very high. If either of them thinks absolutely contradictorily to what the other believes in, there would hardly be a mutual level of understanding between the two and life would be merely a compromise for the two. The only way an arranged marriage can succeed is through acceptance. One has to accept the other the way he/she is and look for striking a mutual level of understanding.
Progressively, the concept of arranged marriage has changed considerably. Today, parents are concerned about the life of their child and take the consent of their kid, before deciding the marriage. Over the time, people have understood that marriages can only be successful when the parents do not force their children to marry someone he/she doesn’t want to marry. Good arrange marriages happen when the parents support and help their children to find their life partners according to their desires and likings. Mutual consent and understanding are the only ways a marriage can sustain.
Some Facts about Indian Wedding
Indian wedding is a perfect blend of serious rituals and customs along with other fun filled rituals and frothy moments. Wedding marks the beginning of a new relationship not just between two individuals but also between two families and thus, there are various moments in the wedding ceremonies that help to build new relationships. Every caste and community has its own tradition and culture. India with such diverse cultural background showcases variety of rituals and customs.
Here are few very interesting facts about various kinds of Indian Wedding:
• In many of the Hindu marriages, there is a wedding ritual in which the sisters of the bride hide the shoes of their brother-in-law (jija ji) and return them only in exchange for money. It’s a very fun filled and enjoying ritual.
• In some communities, there are rituals where the hands of the couple are covered with a sacred cloth to ward off ill omen and evil eye during the pheras.
• In Parsee marriage ceremonies, the sisters-in-law take gifts from their brother-in-law during the ritual of Haath Boravanu where the groom puts his hand in water and cannot remove them until he pays money to them, Pag Dhovanu is another such ritual where the groom is threatened with milk on his shoes and chero chorvanu is a ritual in which seven strands of thread tying the couple are removed on payment.
• In Gujarati custom the groom’s mother-in-law tries to catch his nose on arrival of the baraat, as a reminder of the fact that he is taking away their daughter and is now responsible for her happiness.
• Aeki-Beki is also very fun filled rituals among the Gujarati community. A tray or pot of water is mixed with milk and vermillion. A ring and a few coins are thrown into the mixture. The bride and groom are given seven chances to fish out the ring. The winner is considered as having a dominating personality and it is predicted amidst much laughter that he or she will rule the roost!
• In Punjabi custom the brides wear a Chuda (A traditional set of Bangles). This is a set of red and ivory bangles gifted by bride’s maternal uncle. This custom is considered good omen for the bride as it is said to bring good luck to the bride in her new home.
• Punjabi brides wear Kaleeres (pronounced as ka-lee-ray). These are silver or gold plated ornaments tied to the Chudas. It is said that the bride has as many friends as there are leaves in the Kaleere. One interesting ritual related with the Kaleere is the custom in which a bride shakes her Kaleere over the unmarried girls in her family. It is said that if the Kaleere falls on the head of any of them, she is the next one to be married.
• Another ritual which is found in almost every community is when the groom brings home his new bride; the groom’s sisters block the entrance to the home and demand money from their brother as a shagun before they let him in. This is a fun filled and amusing ritual.