Indian marriages are rich in colour, ceremonies, celebrations and culture. But can we Indians make an independent choice on our marriages even today? Even in an era where we keep on shouting for gender equality and women empowerment, consciously or unconsciously we seem least bothered about the lack of independence in making choices on our own marriage.
If you are in your mid-twenties and you have a job, people start to say – ‘This is the correct time for marriage. What are you waiting for?’ That is absolute bullshit. Age does not determine anything. Like the wise people have already said, it’s just a number. Get married only when you are ready. And only you know when you are ready. You may have certain goals or dreams to achieve or you need to be financially stable. Get ready mentally and physically. Stand on your foot, be independent then go get married.
There are certain things that are difficult to achieve after marriage. Because marriage has it’s own responsibilities and duties as it’s not all about you alone, there are other people and lives involved. Achieve things you wanted, before marriage and then start your married life peacefully. Yes, you can achieve things after marriage too but at least you need to lay the foundation for that before marriage when you are free and in a position to take risks. You know better about you and your life than outsiders so stick to your instincts and believe in your guts. It’s not wrong to select the ‘road not taken’. The only thing is that you may not have a trail to follow instead you need to mark a trail for others to follow.
In India, whether it’s to marry someone of our choice or to remain single you are not supposed to make a choice. You have got a number of hurdles to hop on- religion, caste, subcaste, economy, social status, siblings, parents, relatives, friends, neighbours, job, age, state, language and many more which I have failed to mention. A number of factors decide your fate in Indian marriages, not you. If you are an Indian you will definitely understand this.
Religion is the greatest decision maker in Indian marriages. If you wish to marry someone of some other religion then arise the biggest problem of your life. How will you get married? According to which religion’s practice you will get married? Who will change the religion- Boy or Girl? You need to satisfy a number of questions. Let us say you have decided to remain religion free then comes the ‘unsolvable’ question- ‘what about your children, which religion they will select- father’s or mother’s religion?’ How will they live without religion in a country like India where we need to fill this column in every application forms? Yet another villain is horoscope. Horoscope matching is the most important criteria to be fulfilled in Indian marriages than the compatibility of the couple. In India, within a religion, we have castes and sub-castes and let me remind you, don’t even think of intercaste marriages. They are highly fatal.
Social and economic status of the bride/groom and their family, matters in Indian marriages than their character or compatibility. Indian grooms are expected to have a white-collar job and it’s great if he is settled/employed abroad. And for the bride, she is expected to bring a lot of dowries, after all, she is the Lakshmi. Also in Indian marriages, your marriage is always connected to the sibling’s future. If you are a girl and you want to get married then it is possible only after your elder sister’s marriage. If you are a boy and you have a sister then you can marry only after her marriage no matter whether she is elder or younger.
Even today, the majority of Indian marriages are arranged by their parents and family members. It’s really difficult for our people to digest the concept of self-arranged marriages (called love marriages in India). Even if you find a partner who matches your parent’s expectation it’s really difficult to get approval. The only reason is that it is a love marriage and it’s something that is uncommon here.
But recently Indian culture is trending away from traditional arranged Indian marriages. The percentage of self-arranged marriages or love marriages have also increased, particularly in the urban parts of India.
In Indian marriages, matchmakers decide when, where, who and how a marriage should take place. The matchmaker is normally a family friend or a distant relative but nowadays this has become a business and matchmaking has become a profession. And these matchmakers decide the age, correct timing, the qualities of a partner, the do’s and do not’s in a marriage and so on. Even if you are getting married you don’t have a say in that. They know their job and they will make your marriage happen literally at any cost. Yes, this splendid service comes with a cost. As you know ‘there is no free lunches baby’. For them, marriage is a duty or a target that they need to achieve and they will do it without any fail. Most of these matchmakers just work for the broker fee and they are ready to say any ruthless lie to make a marriage happen.
In this new technologically advanced era matchmakers have been replaced with matrimonial sites. These matrimonial sites are the latest and trending matchmakers in the market. And the funniest thing is that for each religion and caste you will find separate matrimonial sites. Not only religion and caste but also based on your language, state, region, caste, creed, sex, colour and what all possibilities and filters they can bring, on the basis of all these factors you will find N number of matrimonial sites in India. It’s no joke, it’s an absolutely hilarious yet successful blender of technological advancement in the Indian marriage business. They will lure you saying come register in our site for a 1 month free trial period. If you take this bait then you are trapped. Even someone who does not even have a plan to get married soon may think that this deal is cool and may decide to try this ‘so-called wonderful feature’. Once you register in these sites then you will be welcomed with ‘a load of notifications’. If someone views your profile you will get a notification and if someone is interested, if someone sends a request, if someone bookmarks you, if someone revisits, if you have a matching profile, if a new person joined, if someone texts, if someone likes, if someone filters, if someone quits, if someone is online and for a lot of meaningful and meaningless “ifs” you will keep on receiving notifications and these notifications make you stay active in the site and urges a feeling of checking each and every time and to know how many likes I have got, how many have visited my profile and how many are interested in my profile and so. Yes, man is a social animal who secretly loves being recognised and cherished. These stupid sites make you feel loved. And here is the catch, when the trial period ends they will bring you into a state where you automatically feels like upgrading your account. That’s how the business works, the marriage business.
In a country where you don’t even have a marriage choice then clearly understand the fact that you can’t opt out of marriage too. If you decide to remain single then be ready to face a lot of whys. You can’t make a choice in marriage nor out of marriage. Be ready to get married in a normal arranged Indian marriage.
Historically speaking, weddings during the Vedic times took place by a variety of methods. While arranged marriages were preferred, the consent of the bride was generally taken into consideration. In the case of royal families, parents arranged a Swayamvar, a ceremony where suitable matches from all over the country were invited. Thereafter, either these suitors had to prove their prowess to win over the girl, or the girl herself will choose one of them, by offering him a flower garland. Even love marriages and elopements were quite common. The couple in love will elope and undergo what is known as ‘Gandharva’ type of marriage.
During the late medieval period, the practice of arranged marriages began as a way of uniting and maintaining upper caste families. Gradually, the system spread to the lower caste also.
As the position of women in society degraded, the concept of marriage and her role in it also changed. The previous custom of asking for her consent was abolished and rituals like dowry, child marriages, exchange marriage and other derogatory customs began to rise. Arranged marriages became the most prevalent way of marriage in the country and among Hindus especially.
In Indian marriages, marriage is treated as an alliance between two families rather than a union between two individuals. That is something that existed long back in a period where those practices were useful. But now we live in a fast-changing world where things like religion, caste, subcaste, socio-economic status are negligible and we need technology, education and common sense to live your life. A new era needs new changes and practices, not the age old ancient practices and customs. Now, most of the women are independent and you can’t put them under the shackles of forced patriarchy, having to live under the guardianship of a man in all stages of life. Earlier it was possible as their living style was like that. But now most of them are independent.
Can someone tell me why the wedding day is the most important day in your child’s life? As though their existence has no value if they don’t get married. Why do our parents beg, borrow and steal to make sure their kids are married in style? As though nothing else matters. Marriage is not the end of your life it’s just a part of your life and maybe a new phase of your life. Get a hold of yourself, open and understand the fact that if you invest the same money in your child’s education you will make them stand on their foot, live their life with confidence and help them to stand with a stiff spine and straight head. Let your children decide how to live their life and with whom.