Arranged marriage, a term alien to the western world but very familiar to the eastern. Many parts of the world still follow the ritual of arranged marriage-a marriage decided not by the groom and bride rather their folks. It is quite prevalent in India till date. With the advancement in Information and technology this area has not remained untouched. As a an outcome of this revolution we have got many online sources to tap on. Shaadi.com and Bharatmatrimony.com are quite familiar to most Indians. This leap forward has not changed the basic idea of getting married but it has added a whole new dimension to the groom/ bride search. The end remains the same while the means have changed.
Vijay Nagaswami in his book The 24×7 Marriage : Smart Strategies for Good Beginnings has given interesting insight into Indian marriage. Many people believe that the reason behind success of the arranged marriages is the involvement of the families. The author aptly remarks that here the marriage is not between two people alone rather it is between two families.
The real challenge under this system is not the wedding itself but the search of the prospective bride/groom. In many cases we observe parents going through a bigger stress during the search. In a way the daughter/son who is going to get married does not go through same amount of stress. As it is more of a cumulative decision instead of individual. Many might argue that the stress levels are higher for the people who get married because they hardly know each other. But the point I am trying to make is that responsibility to make it work is shared with the family and it does not solely remains with the couple. Many youngsters also hail this system because of this reason.
Sadly I have observed that this system has its own faults as well and it does not seem to be as good as it sounds. In many cities this has been a sort of trend to outdo with friends and relatives when it comes to finding prospective spouses. Many parents consider it as a matter of prestige to get their sons/daughters married at a right age and into an affluent and prestigious family. It is more like winning the best deal.
In this race many parents end up taking wrong decisions which hold a great deal of effect on the future life. How much one can know a person in first meeting ? Whether a decision like ending up your whole life with someone can be taken after a brief conversation of few minutes ? How fair is the judgement regarding a person just after one meeting ? Is it alright to get married to someone who has been introduced to you now and before that he/she was a mere stranger?
Certainly many marriages happen this way a girl and a boy are made to see each other through a meeting fixed by the elders of the family. They hardly knew each other and after that first meeting the fate is decided for the rest of their lives. It is there and then the decision is taken whether they will eventually get married or not. If any side needs some more time to decide then it is taken as polite way of not going further with this alliance.
The stakes are so high that despite knowing the fact that it might pose a lot of challenges many marriages happen just to save the family honor or prestige. If a girl is approved by the boy’s side then it does not leave much of a room for the girl to raise her objections. It seems unbelievable but it is a sad fact. In a country where sex ratio is declining and preference for a male child is as high as ever, the girls certainly have not much of a choice. The result is many hasty marriages and repercussions have a lasting effect.
Osho has remarked that in west marriages are like flowers but in east they are like rock. Come whatever may you have to carry on with your life as usual. The girls are brought up with the notions of being a good wife like Sita or Savitri and these values are further strengthened with the present day avatars of the same in many of the daily soaps on TV. It leads to a bigger amount of pressure on the girls to make their marriage work. In some cases we do come across men trying hard to make the relationship success. Calling quits is even harder because you are nurtured with the idea of getting married just once in a life. Good or bad you have to stick to it. Seems unbelievable but majority of the Indians still believe in this.
Arranged marriages have been hailed for their higher success rate and lower divorce rate. But if we delve deep there are many couples who carry on with their marriage to save themselves from the stigma of social disgrace or for their children. No doubt there are many couples who hail this system and will counter argue with me for putting up a not-so- good picture. Hiding one’s failure does not make you successful. It is time to think about some reforms needed in this system. Ideally it is best suited with Indian set of values but with the changing times we need to make it more flexible and accountable by giving more freedom to the prospective bride and groom to take an individual decision. Rather than an obligation to parents it should be taken as responsibility where both need contribute equally.