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The curious case of arranged marriages

The curious case of arranged marriages

By Bijaya Biswal

Jane Austen mentions in one of her famous novels, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” The statement explains the mentality behind arranged marriages in India. Although Indian marriages are meant to be deeply meaningful and committed relationships, they do not necessarily start out as such. The marriage is rather seen as an irrefutable requirement, that every woman in their 20s is expected by society to fulfil. Society takes the matter into its own hands by arranging marriages for every eligible member of the community.

Deceptive compatibility

Since the parameters of love are impossible to predict, an arranged marriage is often randomly devised. Compatibility between two prospective partners is often based on caste, religion, and societal homogeneity. Even though marriages in India are considered sacred, the practised processes of such unions prove otherwise. Matchmaking by family and friends gives way to unfairness and open-ended interpretations about the compatibility of the two people involved.

On average, an Indian spends eighteen to twenty-five years of her life with her family, while the rest is spent with her spouse. Ergo, it becomes necessary for her to become comfortable with her spouse throughout the years. Hence, compatibility in common interests, sense of understanding, trust, and other factors must be seriously taken into consideration. The love factor plays a huge role in the strength and happiness of a long-term relationship. However, castes, religions, salaries, looks, and the like play little to no role.

The troublesome interference

There is a great chasm between Indian parents and their adult children. Due to a lack of communication, Indian parents know very little about the social lives of their kids. As a result, marriage becomes a topic which is often only discussed in unwilling grunts and mumbles. Parents do not understand the type of life partner their child wants, and children do not feel at ease talking about it.

The obsession with arranged marriages poses a much bigger problem for society. The dowry system, gender disparity, and honour killings have increased significantly. Huge financial burdens are placed on families for the sake of marriages controlled by society. Adding salt to the injury, it is not possible to get out of badly arranged marriages, as divorce is considered a taboo and a sign of emotional incapability.

Breaking the silent cycle

Arranged marriages in India are misunderstood and highly glorified. The rate of love marriage, on the other hand, is still growing at a sluggish pace. Live-in relationships are unacceptable in the eyes of society. Individual decisions to refuse marriage are not given importance. While many arranged marriages work out and many love marriages fail, everyone has the right to choose when it comes to marriage. How free are the people, if they are restricted from choosing who they love? People must break away from superstitions and prejudices. The silence of loveless marriages can be observed in many homes of middle-aged couples. While husbands are away at work in order to spend less time at home, wives find comfort in television soaps and spirituality. The only string that seems to tie the marriage together is the children. No wonder, a cynical Oscar Wilde once wrote, “Men marry because they are tired; women, because they are curious: both are disappointed.”

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