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Modern Arranged Marriages in Indian Community

Introduction

An arranged marriage takes place when another person, other than the couple anticipating marriage, arranges the marriage to shun the process of courtship between the two people to be married. Various groups of people throughout history have practiced this marriage style. Nowadays, various groups in South Asia and Middle East are still adhering to this practice as well as in the African and the Indian cultures. Arranged marriage is different from the concept of forced marriage. The parents, an older relative, or an honest third party usually makes the decision to unite the couple. In modern times, arranged marriages are commonly viewed as a fall back option if teenagers are not able or not ready to spend resources necessary to get an acceptable life partner. The parents are welcome partners in the hunt for a spouse. Arranged marriages give the bride and groom the opportunity to adjust their diverse values, so they may compromise with one another. This directly contrasts love marriages where each individual has full authority over the relationship.

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Arranged marriages in India

Three events are crucial in one’s life here in the world: birth, marriage, and death. Hence, the decision to marry is one of the most important decisions one will ever make. Because divorce is very unacceptable in the Indian culture, it is without doubt that the marriage decision is cautiously thought out and arranged. The process of making such a vital decision cannot be endowed to a young person. For some guardians, community pressure forces them to give in. In certain circumstances, a love marriage or a relationship is deemed as a disappointment on the guardians in taking charge of their children. Some parents are just unable to withstand the community pressure when their child has passed a certain age without getting marriage. Hence, more often they tend to marry them off before they are past certain a certain age limit. Traditionally, the potential life partners would rarely see each other until the day they are to accept the vows. The dowry negotiations are made between the relatives of the young people before they are allowed to stay together. In modern arranged marriages, some Indians are taking advantage of the internet and print media to place personal advertisements. Interested persons express their desire and the coupe may decide to meet later. In addition, parents look for mates for their children especially for their children living overseas. They are sent pictures of potential mates to select the person they fell attracted to and marriage arrangements made once they identity a mate and communicate.

Preservation of castes

The practice of arranged marriages has formed a vital component of the Indian culture since the fourth century (Flanigan para. 1). It is mainly perceived as a key backbone of the Indian society, strengthening the communal, economic, geographical, and the historical meaning of the people of India. In this community, arranged marriages serve six major purposes. First, it assists in preserving the social satisfaction system in the community. Parents exercise control over their children in having the final say in this type of marriage. This practice improves the possibilities of preserving and prolonging the family’s ancestral lineage. It presents an opportunity to make the kinship groups strong. It permits the consolidation and extension of the family possessions. Lastly, the elders of the community are able to safeguard the principle of intermarriage amongst the different clans (“Arranged marriages” para. 6-7). The caste system in Indian determines whom one marries because one should not marry outside their caste. Thus, “Indians accept arranged marriages because they do not want to take the chance of altering what was meant to be” (Leeder 182).

The culture of arranged marriage started as a method of unifying and sustaining the upper caste families. Ultimately, the practice spilled over to the lower caste whereby it served the same purpose. Marriage in this rich culture was viewed as an alliance amongst two families rather than a merger of two persons.

Love in marriage

The primary objective of the marriage is to start a family. Although they may not love one another at first, a more elaborate understanding of the two will ultimately develop. People who get married this way say “the love they feel grows over time , it is not necessarily romantic , but it is love” (Leeder 178).This is because they have a common ground on religious, political, or cultural issues. Instead of worrying about whether they made the right decision, or whether love will last, married couples work to love each other and se their love grow” (Leeder 182). For example, Rajiv Kumar married his wife Vandana on the day they met after plans for their marriage were made by their parents. They come from the same village even though Rajiv was living in the United States. Vandan relocated to the U.S, they bore twins, and they say there marriage is as good as that based on love (Heft). Conversely, this kind of marriage puts love at the back seat. Parents tell their children to decide with the head and not with the heart. The couples get into marriage with feeling love towards one another but expecting it to grow. Sometimes it never grows and they are stuck in loveless marriages for the rest of their lives. In addition, following one’s head is deemed sensible than listening to one’s heart. What the young people ideally call “love” and “the choice of a person” is many at times the infatuation experienced at the moment, which often lasts until the marriage has taken place, then is thrown to the dust bin. The culture of having more experienced people vet the potential couple and their background is a type of “due diligence” that should happen (“Indian Wedding” para. 15). Supporters also argue that marriages founded simply on romance are usually doomed to failure because the individuals may have unreasonable expectations of one another. Hence, the relationship lacks adequate room for making further improvements.

Compatibility

Arranged marriages reduce or eliminate incompatibilities between the potential marriage partners. This is because their parents make consult astrologers who determine the couple’s compatibility using their zodiac signs. Many considerations are made to ensure that the couples are a fit match because “marriage is joining of two families, not just two individuals” (Leeder 182). Due to the similarities of the couples, they are more likely to understand each other. This helps them to agree on decisions they make about how to bring up their children and other family decisions they may need to make. On the contrary, Arranged marriages can lead to cases of forced mismatch enacted by the relatives of the partners. This forced relationship based on the significant values to the matchmaker may not seem desirable to the partners and may lead to silent internal rumbles within the family. This is the major drawback of this type of marriage as it involves the coming together of two unknown people who have not understood and appreciated one another’s lives. Therefore, the probability of the partners not getting along smoothly is high. If any of the partners thinks in contradictory terms to what the other has strong belief in, existence of a mutual consent between the two would be a nightmare and they would live loveless lives founded on a mere compromise for both of them. Arranged marriage can only be successful on the grounds of acceptance, the man has to accept the woman and vice versa, regardless of the looks (“Arranged Marriages” para.4).

Parents’ experience in mate selection

Moreover, proponents’ reiterates that based on the vast experience of the parents to make a match, they are at a better position to be trusted in making the crucial decision to the best interests of the couple. In this context, parents are less likely to be swayed by the waves of emotions and hormones. In as much as there are occasions when matchmakers select a match that meets the interests of the family and fail to meet the couple’s interests, this is an allowable risk with potential lifetime benefits. This practice gives the parents the opportunity to be in command of the family matters and members of the family. Sometimes it helps to depend on another individual’s experience and opinion when deciding for a match mate particularly when the potential partners are still young and are in need of thorough guidance and direction in starting their new lives. On the other hand, some cases of divorce have occurred. This may be due to incompatibility especially with modern young Indians. This shows that arranged marriages are not perfect because the couple may fail to grow in love as anticipated. For any marriage to work the couples, must learn to accommodate one another and learn to love each other. Some brides have found married life unbearable and tried to go back to their parents but had to go back to their husbands. Their parents tell them to adjust to the situation at their husbands’ home no matter how difficult.

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Stability of marriage

Couples who go for arranged marriages have been established to be having a stable marriage than those in love marriages. In arranged marriages, the process of matchmaking is done in consideration of various factors of compatibility such as family reputation, wealth, religion, age, and psychological compatibility of the individuals. Proponents often relate this to the increasing divorce rate in love marriages. As an example, about 50% of United States marriages culminate in a divorce (Seth para.5) contrasted to the relative low divorce rate of India at 1.1 % (“Divorce demography”). This ascertains the relative stability enjoyed by couples of arranged marriages because an “estimated 95% of marriages in India are arranged” (Leeder 24). Arranged marriages are not necessarily forced and the couples have a choice to accept or reject one another. In case of rejection, the family looks for another mate and this helps to reduce the rate of divorce after the marriage takes place because both mates mutually agree to marry.

Individual’s decision-making

Furthermore, the couples do no have a chance to decide whom to marry. This reduces their ability to make independent decisions. They do not take the responsibility of looking for a suitable mate and leave it to someone else yet this is a very crucial decision. The parents often doubt the couple logical decision-making capability in such a scenario (Litton). These people act as sound-minded introducers and the ones to give recommendations who are mainly driven by their best interests in total disregard to those of the couple. This makes arranged marriages to be viewed as a mere family dating service accompanied by a little pre-marriage counseling.

In the Indian society, the intra-family connections is much significant than the mere love relationship between the newly weds. This makes divorce difficult and most of the brides have met death at their husbands’ home. This is because they could not leave and go back to their parents who would eventually tell them to go back to their husbands. Some have died in murders that disguised as fire accidents. Their husbands kill them if they fail to fulfill their promise of paying hefty dowries. They subject the “bride to harassment “(Umar 152). The windowed husbands take on other brides and receive dowry payment. Therefore, individuals who see them as an opportunity to make financial gains abuse such arranged marriages. This is because arranging marriages for caste or economic reasons impairs societal growth. Love marriage has more influence in promoting build up of wealth and the growth of the community because it is based on mutual consent between the two parties. Arranged marriages have been an essential medium of taking of dowry. It has served over the years as a means of trade rather than a social routine. People have resorted to it as a simple means of making money.

Conclusion

The culture of arranged marriage has transformed considerably over time. Nowadays, most parents show more concern about the lives of their children and take their approval before making the final decision for the marriage. Over the time, society has realized that marriage can only be achieved when the parents and the older relatives avoid forcing their children to get married to someone they hardly love. Well arranged marriages takes place when the parents give assistance and advice to their kids to get spouses that corresponds to their desires and likings.

It is debated that love marriages comes with more independence and freedom as opposed to arranged marriages (Mijar para.6; Xu and King 719). Arranged marriages always come with pressure to dance to the tunes of the parental expectations like giving birth to a male heir, actively participating in the family rituals and traditions, staying with sisters-in-laws, catering for the expenses of the family and so on. All these complications stems from marriage of two people who does not know one another. To be on familiar terms with somebody before marriage permits the couple to accord a better respect and understanding for one another and care for their respective needs and desires. This way, they get adequate time to make the necessary adjustments before taking the final marriage vow. Successful marriage results only due to mutual consent and understanding from both parties. More importantly, a person should be allowed to marry whomever they want.

References

“Divorce demography.” NationMaster.com.2005. Web.

Flanigan, Santana. “Arranged Marriages, Matchmakers, and Dowries in the India,” 2000. Web.

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Fox, Greer Litton. “Love Match and Arranged Marriage in a Modernizing Nation: Mate Selection in Ankara Turkey.” Journal of Marriage and the Family, Vol. 37, No. 1 (1975): pp. 180-193. Print.

Indian Wedding.” Iloveindia.com. Web.

Heft, Miguel. “A Decent Proposal.” Prism.com. Nov. 1995. Web.

Leeder, J Elaine. The family in global perspective: a gendered journey. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE, 2004.

Mijar, Nayan. “Arranged Vs Love Marriage.” Boloji.com. 2002. Web.

Seth, Reva. “What Arranged Marriage Can Teach Us.” Your Tango. Tango Media Corporation. 2009. Web.

Umar, Mohd. Bride Burning in India: A Socio Legal Study. New Delhi: APH Publishing, 1998.

Xiaohe, Xu, and Whyte, Martin King. “Love Matches and arranged Marriages: A Chinese Replication.” Journal of Marriage and the Family, Vol. 52, No.3 (1990): pp. 709-722. Print.

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