Arranging a marriage in India
In India, almost all marriages are arranged by the parents. Marriage is as much a concern of the families as it is of the individuals. In many cases, the bride and groom do not meet each other before marriage. If they meet, they meet for a short conversation. Parents do not compel their children to marry a person whom they selected. If their children don't like it, they search for another one.
About the Author
The writer is an American. So, she found the system difficult to believe. She thought the culture of arranged marriage oppressive. She was very much curious to know how young Indian would take it. She met Sita who was a college graduate student. She had been waiting for over a year while her parents were arranging a match for her. The writer asked her how she could marry someone she had never seen and known well. Sita replied that her parents never arrange a marriage for her without knowing about the boy and his family.
Her parents would not marry her into a bad family. She told her that Americans don't know about their partner so well before marriage. So there would not be mystery and romance after marriage. So, she continued that American girls were spending all their time worrying about if they would meet a man and get married but Indian girls would have a chance to enjoy their life and let their parents do that work of worrying for them.
Six years later, she returned to India again. She met many Indian couples whose marriage had been arranged were living a happy marriage life.
In India, she also participated in arranging marriage for her friend's son. Her friends were in the process of arranging for the marriage of her eldest son. He was well-educated, nice looking and carrying out his father business. The writer was sure that he would easily get a partner for him. Her friend was so selective that did not arrange the marriage for her son if she found a small weakness in the girl or in her family she did not like to arrange the marriage from the big family where there were five daughters.
Next she rejected a family simply because the girl was fat and wearing glasses. And even a girl was rejected because she was traveling alone in the city. They thought she was independent. Independent girl was not accepted by her family.
Two years later she again returned to India. Her friend was still searching for a girl for her son. At that time, the boy was close to 30, and her friend was a little worried. The writer met a family with a marriageable daughter. The girl studied fashion design in college. She was pretty. Her parents had not allowed her to go out of the city to find out her career. So, she was running a small dressmaking boutique. After a year, the boy was going to marry a girl.
The essayist Serena Nanda has beautifully described the assumptions of western and eastern culture regarding marriage in this essay. The essayist had been temporarily in India. She was grown up in the US. So, she strongly believed in western culture. She was quite surprised when she came to know that marriage in India is a matter of family rather than Individual.
She writes that there are two ways of marriage system in India. One is the marriage which is arranged by the parents and the other is one in which parents do not have any role but the boys and girls themselves select their life partner which is called 'love match' She was shocked when she came to know that parents and other relatives take the responsibility of arranging a marriage in India. Then she ponders on this issue. At first, she does not like this idea because she believed that the Western marriage system is better because it has the following merits: It provides the freedom to select their spouse, has sufficient romance, boy and the girl can know each other. They can make a plan of their life before marriage.
She does not prefer the Indian marriage system: She simply believes that it is ridiculous because the Indian marriage system ceases personal freedom and is devoid of romance in her definitions. It is through the communication with an Indian girl, Sita, she slowly realizes that how content the Indian boys and girls were to give the responsibilities of selecting their life parents from their mature parents and enjoy the freedom. It is her friend who makes the essayist knows some beliefs associated with the Indian marriage system because her friend was also in search of a bride to her son.
According to it, a girl who is more educated going out of the home without any guardian is not preferred. Similarly, she should be religious, soft-spoken and modest. She should neither gossip and nor should she quarrel. These are the most two important qualities desired from a good girl. Similarly, the essayist also knows that a good Indian boy should not be short and dark.
In addition to these negative aspects of a boy, the writer also knows that Indian people would not like to give their daughter's hand to the person who is an army or police. All these details have both positive and negative impacts on the writer. It causes humour in the writer and she also begins to appreciate such intense awareness given by the Indians on the serious issue like marriage at the same time.
The writer goes to the US and finds that her many friends who had of course married in the west style had divorced. Quite contrarily, she finds that all the couples in India were living very happily. This perception of two realities on the two marriage systems of the east and west germinates a kind of faith in the Indian marriage system. Then, the writer herself gets engaged in the search for her friend's son's bride. Finally, she is successful. Hence, the essay is the reflection of a westerner's assimilation of the eastern culture after understanding its deep riches.