The Science behind “Arranged Marriages”
For us Indians, arranged marriages are the order of the day. Things are slowly changing in India but arranged marriages far out number love marriages in India. You tell an American about the concept of an arranged marriage and they just wouldn’t understand that. They are like “How can that work?” “Are they crazy?” “Man, I cannot believe this” so on and so forth. For them how can two people who have rarely/never met, on a fine morning start living like husband and wife?
Here Americans date for few months/years and then live as boy friend/girl friend for another few months/years before they marry. They are supposed to know each other very well at the time of marriage and still after marriage lot of differences come up and quiet a few of them end up in divorce. So how can two people who have never shared their thoughts, dreams and ideas together marry obeying their parents and lead a life together afterwards?
Americans hear with shock and awe the stories of arranged marriages. So what makes an arranged marriage work? Most of my friends and I found our partners through arranged marriage. I saw my “would be wife” for the first time only on the day of engagement. Our marriage was 19 days after engagement but never had a chance to meet her between the engagement and marriage as both of us were in two different states.
If you closely observe the concept of arranged marriage don’t you think the girl and the boy who gets “arranged married” understand each other better even though they haven’t seen or talked a lot earlier? Let me explain this with an example. Let us take a typical arranged marriage in India. By typical I mean all the various equations like caste, culture, language, age, sub caste, family status, educational qualifications etc are taken considered. Assume the parents of a Brahmin boy from one of the South Indian states is looking for a bride. The boy knows that the girl whom his parents will find for him is “supposed” to be vegetarian, celebrate the same kind of festivals, go to same places of worship etc. He knows for sure that since the girl whom his parents are going to find is brought up in almost the same culture as his they may share a lot of things in common. So now even before he talks to the “would be girl” he has some idea about her likes and dislikes.
Now assume a hypothetical situation – an arranged marriage between a Brahmin boy from South India and a Muslim girl from Kashmir. Same as the above case, they have never met, talked only for a couple of times. Now you have a problem. Neither the boy nor the girl knows what to expect. The boy doesn’t know the culture in the girl’s house in Kashmir nor she the South Indian culture. They don’t even know each other’s mother tongue. There food habits are totally different. The boy most probably won’t like the smell of the non vegetarian food but the staple food in the girl’s house may be red meat. The girl won’t have a clue of the religious functions in the boy’s house. So in this case it will always be better to talk, date and understand each other’s likes and dislikes before deciding to marry.
Doesn’t the second example hold true in America? Most often 2 people from entirely 2 different backgrounds brought up in entirely different cultures meet, then date and then decide to marry. They don’t know each others like and dislikes and hence it is important that they talk and go out a lot before marriage.
Coming back to the arranged marriages in India – things are fast changing in India. Love marriages are fast catching up with arranged marriages in India. Earlier the chances of 2 people from two different castes, religion, language and culture, freely interacting were very rare. With the changing world a Muslim girl sitting in Kashmir can easily communicate her feelings to a Brahmin boy in the Southern most part of India and they can decide for themselves if they want to marry or not. Earlier they didn’t have a chance but to go with arranged marriage. So I believe that with the world becoming so flat with no boundaries, you may see less number of arranged marriages but arranged marriages never will die as it has a strong history of success behind them.