“Ohh! SO how do you know if you two get along with each other or not? And you don’t actually date?” my colleague quipped during our conversation at lunch.
We were a group comprising of different nationalities from the SE Asian region and I was the only Indian.
One of my other colleagues had just mentioned that in his community after a guy proposes to a girl, it was customary that the parents on both sides meet and mutually agree to the proposal before the wedding.
“Well in India usually, it’s the parents that do the proposal, meet and decide first and then the girl and guy meet and then we just get married. The guy usually does not propose to the girl on his own. If the pair meets and likes one another first then they enter into a mode of convincing their parents” I added.
This statement had triggered that reaction on my first line.
This also set off a parallel string of memory in my head. During my deputation in the States one of my Taiwanese acquaintances at work once mentioned “ You know that guy Rajesh? He said that he met the girl for ten minutes and then the wedding was fixed. How can you decide in ten minutes! “And when I was about to head back home to India she warned “Don’t go back or your mommy will marry you off to someone you get to meet for ten minutes “
Arranged Marriages – Something that has been happening for centuries in India and just blends into the modernity of today ; You have websites for finding grooms and brides and quite often the pair meets on a webcam through Skype or Yahoo Messenger. Horoscope Scanning is computerized and emails are used as the initial communication mode.
One thing about them is that it’s a great boon to those who are not very good or successful at finding a partner for themselves. Society takes care and ensures that two such souls meet and enter into a life-long bond. It may sound unacceptable but lets face it – Some definitely need help.
The best thing in my view is that both the groom and the bride enter into the relationship with an open mind and a readiness to face reality. You know that there would be things about the other person that you are absolutely okay with and there would be things you which are way different from your personality with which you would have to put up with or to put it nicely “ADJUST”.
Lets not get into extreme cases gone haywire here. Those happen everywhere.
I am referring to the usual doing-not-so-bad examples.
To begin with, there is usually no – ‘You were not like this when we were dating and courting!’ From day one its ‘This is what I am’.
Of course there would be expectations – That’s only human. You enter the wedding with the mental readiness to give and take and with absolutely no expectations of perfection.
That goes a long way in making marriages work.
In India you don’t just get married to each other but into each other’s families – New relationships, new responsibilities. Yes there are pluses and minuses to it - On the plus side the family usually acts as a strong wall in securing the marriage and ensures that the couple does not jump into hasty decisions when problems arise.
I once read an article in a Tamil magazine about a Eurpoean tourist who had seen a girl from a slum area in Mahabalipuram and married her as he liked her. In an interview he had mentioned – “Parents here put in so much effort in the marital arrangements of their children. I think that’s a reason for the success of marriages here. Whenever there are small problems, the thought of their parents pushes them through it and helps in building a lasting bond.”
There is also a thrill and suspense factor in arranged marriages. Its like your first roller coaster ride- You are extremely thrilled and excited but deep down there is a fear of how it might turn out. At the end of it you usually end up enjoying yourselves and having fun.
Its also like one of the goody bags at a lucky dip. You pick one without any knowledge of the contents. Its definitely something nice but you have no idea of whats in store for you.
I recently met an aged couple at one function. Both above eighty, they would have got married in pre-independence times and definitely at a very tender age as was the custom in those days – Times when they would have actually seen each others faces after their marriage. As they slowly walked supporting one another’s frail bodies I could not help but wonder how many things they would have seen together – a whole lifetime. I did not need any proof of the bond between them. The glow in their eyes spoke a million words. They had attained that stage where they could read each others minds without a word uttered.
Falling in love and getting married is Beautiful….Getting Married and Gradually Falling in Love is also beautiful right?