The Culture of Arranged Marriages in India
Arranged marriages have always been a debatable subject. It is in the major outlook on relationships that Indians are vastly different, in the way they perceive the institution of marriage, to those beliefs of other countries especially in the west.
Many people have a pretty major misunderstanding of the topic of arranged marriages and in fact have a fairly negative attitude regarding arranged marriages. The best way to understand the reasoning behind such cultures is to put aside your own beliefs, opinions, and preconceived ideas in order to see more clearly before dismissing it as wrong. While it may not be for all and love marriages in India are not unheard of or a rare sighting by any means…arranged marriages aren’t necessarily a bad thing either!
Here are some points to better understand the Culture of Arranged Marriages in India:
The Acceptance of Arranged Marriages in India
Although most westerners cannot fathom marrying someone they do not love, it is incredibly interesting to note that arranged marriages is not something which is fought against, or a source of protest among the young of India.
The truth, surprisingly, is the exact opposite, many of the youth in India prefer arranged marriages, as it gives them the time and the ability to enjoy their youth without the constant worry and struggle of relationships that comes about in western culture.
The west generally believe that one needs to have live-in relationship or a long courtship before they can get married to know whether they are sexually as well as generally compatible or not. The fact that an arranged marriage is actually preferred in many cases in India, and may even indeed be a healthy and happier form of love than the marriages experienced in the west comes as somewhat of a shock or at least a surprise to most.
Feelings Vs Commitment
Many Indians look at marrying a person they don’t know, gives one “a lifetime to learn to love them”, as opposed to the American ideal of learning a person inside and out before entering into marriage. It can be said that an arranged marriage in India is not based on feelings, but rather on commitment.
An Indian woman described it as “Here, we get married without having feelings for the person. We base our marriage on commitment, not on feelings. As our marriage progresses, the feelings develop. In America, you base your decision to marry on feelings, but what happens when the feelings wane? You have nothing left to keep the marriage together if you get married according to feelings and then the feelings go away.”
In India, a relationship between two people is something that is presumed to be fostered and created throughout a lifetime of marriage. Whereas in the west people do not take the idea of marriage seriously until after they know a person for a number of years or feel like they know everything about the person. One way of looking at this difference is that after marriage you tend to accept your spouse’s differences and habits more easily than when you have a choice. A relationship not bound by marriage is more easily broken for the smaller nuances in life. After marriage you tend to accept what you have rather than look for someone better as people often do while courting or dating.
Arranged Marriages are Not Forced Marriages
When people think of arranged marriages, they often picture a boy or girl forced into a relationship in which they have absolutely no choice. However, in reality, this is simply not the case, before the marriage becomes official the potential bride and groom have the opportunity to meet each other and decide whether or not a relationship is something that they would wish to pursue. It’s not like the couple see each other on the wedding day for the first time or just once before the wedding. Once approved they meet and get engaged.
There is usually a period of months or even a year or more after the couple are engaged and before the wedding, where the couple get to know each other, meet, talk and discuss the future. This time after the engagement to the wedding day is sort of the dating period for the couple.
Marriages are a Family Affair
A daughter is said to marry into a family in India. Marriage is not perceived as a relationship between two people but as a relationship between families and especially between the girl and her husband’s family. This is mainly due to the fact that many Indians live in joint families where the wives enter into and live with the husbands family. So a family with several sons will have their wives and children all living together in the same house.
Typically, the burden for the arrangement of the marriage is on the parents. It is the father’s responsibility to choose and make the arrangements for a husband for his daughter. It might seem like an easy matter for a father to arrange his daughter’s marriage, but religion and caste systems make it a daunting task. A number of factors are considered, for instance, generally speaking, marrying outside of one’s own caste is frowned upon, so that limits the number of choices. Also, since the majority of Indians are Hindu, and Hindu’s believe strongly in astrology, the perspective couple’s horoscopes are be analyzed and “suitably matched” or the marriage cannot take place. Additionally, the father will want to make sure that his daughter is marrying into a good family, so a lot of investigation takes place before the arrangements are made. The entire issue of arranging a marriage is one of the biggest responsibilities Indian parents face.
What makes this system work in India is a great deal of trust in the choices of one’s parents. It’s the confidence that parents not only love their daughter and have her best interest at heart, but that they also have more wisdom and can make a better decision for her in the area of marriage.
Arranged Marriages may not be the Right Way for all…But they Aren’t Wrong either!
Although most westerners cannot even begin to imagine marrying someone they do not love or know well enough, it does have it’s practical points especially in India. The divorce rate in India is only 2%, compared to parts of the world where 50% or more of the love marriages end in divorce.
While these stats are not proof or evidence that arranged marriages are better or more successful than love marriages, it’s just a way of showing that there is another side to the stories we hear of arranged marriages can’t work or they are not practical in today’s world.
Like I’ve mentioned above this article is not to convince people to consider arranged marriages or to say they are better, it’s only to show that what we perceive as a wrong way of living or of giving up ones rights is not the way the situation is looked at in other cultures. It’s important to realize that just as in ‘love’ marriages, it may not be right for everyone, and not all work well, but they should not be confused and associated with other social issues like domestic violence, dowry or womens rights.
While I feel it’s not about the right way or wrong, arranged or love, it’s the commitment to a relationship is what makes it work in the end….cause
While marriages are said to be made in Heaven, They have to be nurtured right here on Earth!