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Retro: Very arranged marriages

1st April 2004, early evening | Comments (35)

Tucson, Arizona, USA ~ April, 2002.

Today I stumbled across a web site called The Hindu, which is an online edition of India’s national newspaper.

In their Classifieds section they have four categories of adverts:

  1. Bridegrooms Wanted
  2. Brides Wanted
  3. Brides & Grooms Wanted
  4. Real Estate — Selling

Now, as regards Number 3: who’s actually having the wedding if they need a Bride and a Groom?

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Comments (35)

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  1. Nik:

    Cause if you're Indian, you sometimes tend to marry off your son AND daughter at the same time in the (predominant) arranged marriage system, depending on your cultural and familial values.

    But what if you were a parent, had this responsibility of finding someone for your kids, and had fraternal twins?

    Posted 15 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Sarah
  2. Lee:

    People who like a nice wedding/reception obviously...
    ...and have too much money...
    ...or want an excuse to buy a new hat ala Cilla.

    Posted 1 hour, 11 minutes after the fact
  3. Prashant:

    This is hilarious. I would think the newspaper's editors would have a better hold of their english language.

    Posted 1 hour, 48 minutes after the fact
  4. Prashant:

    Just for the record. India does not have a "national" newspaper. Cheers :-)

    Posted 2 hours, 7 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Dunstan
  5. Dunstan:

    Oh, it says "Online edition of India's National Newspaper".

    Are they lying?

    The swines!

    Posted 2 hours, 10 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Prashant
    Inspired: ↓ Aadis
  6. Aadis:

    Wishful thinking is more like it ;)

    Posted 2 hours, 15 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Dunstan
  7. Prashant:

    Hahaha, These guys are just overboard! I think they mean "nationwide"!!!

    Then, ofcourse, when I read "national" I think "state-owned", but, I might be wrong too.

    Posted 2 hours, 22 minutes after the fact
  8. Sarah:

    Wow! Eyeopener. In the "brides and grooms" bit, hte majority of likely partners awaiting Matching (in the British newspaper Hatched, Matched and Dispatched state of affairs) are in for a-matching courtesy of their parents if I read this right?
    Prashant, more comment from you please, I'm intrigued!

    Posted 4 hours, 12 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Nik
    Inspired: ↓ Prashant
  9. Rahul:

    The name intrigues me. It's like some British paper calling itself "THE PROTESTANT" and claiming to be the UK's National Newspaper. Eh?

    Posted 6 hours, 14 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ David Barrett
  10. David Barrett:

    That reminds me. I need to get my "am I Prod or not" site up.

    Posted 6 hours, 57 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Rahul
  11. Niket:

    A lot of my friends are finding their partners at such matrimonial sites. Its not quite the same as dating sites, as one is looking for commitment rather than having just a good time. Its a nice compromise for us - try to find life partner of your choice, and keep parents happy too.

    "National" in India means "nation-wide".
    What people in US call "national", we call them "government/state owned"

    Shame on you Prashant :-)
    I can't believe you don't know this simple distinction having lived in Bombay for 21 years.

    Posted 7 hours, 8 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Dunstan, ↓ Prashant
  12. Deb:

    Took me all day to figure this out, but think this is simply a Real Estate company looking for young married's, or about to be married's, to sell houses to! But if that's all they offer in the classifieds, I wonder where one goes to sell a used sari, or ruby, or...

    You must be exhausted from all that bombing and the heat from the fires! Can't they pick on some other farm?

    Posted 7 hours, 30 minutes after the fact
  13. Dunstan:

    Niket, I know it's rather rude to ask, but how old are you?

    I'm amazed that young people want to find their partners that way... though that said, I guess it's a good way to cut to the chase - everyone knows what everyone else is after.

    But, how does it work? Do you date for ages? Or is it that if your parents like the look of them, then that's it?

    I'm fascinated.

    Posted 7 hours, 39 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Niket
    Inspired: ↓ Prashant
  14. Niket:

    I am 25. Here is my opinion, largely true, but a personal opinion nonetheless.

    Well, ours is a more "conservative" society. Its not like people don't date, but as a percentage, its much less. We even have two distinct terms "love marriage" and "arranged marriage". By definition, most marriages in US/UK fall under the former category.

    I can share some stories with you. A friend of mine was dating a guy for 2 years before they split up. Under pressure from her parents, she put a matrimony ad. She met a few people and finally found a "soulmate" and got married last year.

    In another case, a friend of mine dated and then an year later got engaged to a girl he met thru similar service. He had no idea that his parents had put an ad for him.

    For a lot of us, this kind of service is a good middle ground between "traditional values" and "modern outlook". Usually, we don't date for ages before getting married. If you are above 22-23 and dating, you'd probably get married as soon as you find a job.

    In less conservative families (again, comparitively speaking), parents set you up with a girl/guy. You may talk, go out and get to know each other before agreeing to tie the know. In more conservative families, the decision needs to be made quickly. You may talk and so on... but the answer is required real soon. In hardcore conservative families, which are likely to be uneducated, you see the girl at your engagement/wedding.

    Again, some of the above are generalizations.

    Posted 8 hours, 26 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Prashant, ↓ Dunstan
  15. Prashant:

    Niket, I guess that's another lesson in the semantics of the 'American English' language compared to 'Indian English'! Oh those 21 years! How I wish they hadnt passed! :-)

    Dunstan/Sarah, having found my better half via an alternate to the above discussed 'arranged marriage', I wouldn't claim to be an expert on how it works. Although what I would say is these matrimonials are doing the job of the traditional 'religious pundit' who would go around house to house with a 'catalog' of prospective brides and grooms! They actually have photoalbums of the prospectives and show them around to the families they know.

    Via this route of finding a spouse, dating almost never shows up as a step in the whole process. Rather, a matching of family and monetary backgrounds turns out to be of higher consequence. Once those are satisfied, the couple usually see each other once/twice, in most cases in the 'supervision' of the families.

    Thats my bit of 'arranged marriage' info that I have. I've never experienced this myself, but know of various family members who either have or are going through this process.

    Posted 8 hours, 41 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Sarah, ↑ Niket, ↑ Dunstan, ↑ Niket
    Inspired: ↓ Dunstan
  16. Niket:

    And my personal take on this matter is that marriage is not about compatibility, but about being able to live with the incompatibilities. No matter how long you know a person, there are bound to be issues after marriage. Its how you cope with them that determines if you can live together ever after. Even if you don't really know a person, when you marry her, share life with her, get to know her, you will start loving her.

    I strongly believe in the institution of marriage. If I happen to seriously date someone in the near future, I'd get married to her. If not, my parents (and to much lesser extent friends) will try to set me up. I don't think I will ever date anyone casually, it will always be with a strong possibility of a lifetime commitment.

    I have seen both the cultures: Indian and western. I decided to stick with the former :-)

    Posted 8 hours, 43 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Prashant
  17. Prashant:

    Very well said Niket! I'm proud of you my brothaa!!! :-)

    Posted 11 hours, 33 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Niket
  18. Matt Southerden:

    Well, that all sounds lovely guys, and I'm sure there are many people who are very happy with their chosen parter, but nobody seems to have mentioned anything about _forced_ arranged marriages.

    Ho Hum! Just another one of the fine things that religion (remember that; it's the thing where people are supposed to love, respect, and care for others) has given the world.

    Praise **insert applicable non-existant god here*


    Posted 16 hours, 21 minutes after the fact
  19. Dunstan:

    Thanks for explaining the system you two, that was very interesting.

    Posted 16 hours, 29 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Niket, ↑ Prashant
  20. Matt Southerden:

    Hmm, re-reading that comment again, it does seem a bit terse. It wasn't meant to be that way if it offends anyone.

    I don't have any problem with any individual wanting to have personal religious beliefs, but I don't agree with the forced imposition of religious beliefs upon others (be that the christening of a child, preaching to others who don't want to hear, or forced marriage).

    Carry on...

    Matt. :-)

    Posted 17 hours, 1 minute after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Sarah
  21. Phil Baines:

    "preaching to others who don't want to hear"

    How is a preaching person to know that someone doesn’t want to hear what they have to say before they hears it, or says they don’t want to hear? Just seems like a very sweeping statement to make. If someone says “I don’t want you to talk to me about your religion”, then fair enough. But a person shouldn’t feel that they cant talk to anyone about it, because they might think others can benefit from it, as they have.

    There is nothing wrong with sharing your beliefs with other people, but if that person doesn't want to take them on, is not interested in learning more, then it should be left there.

    However, I do agree that christening on children is not right, because, they do not know the full extent of what baptism means.

    And forced marriage? To quote:
    "marriage is not about compatibility, but about being able to live with the incompatibilities"
    This implies that the two people involved need to spend time and make the decision themselves as to whether they are compatible/incompatible. So, I can’t say I agree with forces marriage either, since I agree with this quote.

    Yet my father always told me not to marry the person I CAN live with, but to marry the person I CANNOT live without.

    Posted 19 hours after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Matt Southerden
  22. Matt Southerden:


    I'll clarify what I meant. I've been at a party, happily chatting away to a group of people about this and that. For some reason (I can't remember exactly what the catalyst to this was) somone asked if we believed in god.* Upon some of us answering in the negative we were told that if we died without embracing 'The Lord', we were unfortunately doomed to an eternity getting a char-grill tan at the Butlins of The Underworld. I said that that was fine with me, so long as I could get milk and cookies every night before bed. Of course it didn't end there, the diatribe continued until I had to make my excuses and move on. Someone who will _tell_ a stranger that they will go to hell is usually zealous enough to keep going.

    The other one that gets me is people who preach in the street. Ok, it's the right of free speech, and I'm not advocating it shold be banned, it just gets on my nerves. If I were to stand on a box on the local high street one Saturday afternoon and enlighten the world that I'd discovered Cascading Style Sheets, and that it changed my life, You'd think I should be put in a padded cell.



    Posted 19 hours, 27 minutes after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Phil Baines
    Inspired: ↓ Nicole
  23. Matt Southerden:

    Just been perusing those ads in my lunch hour. Some of them are very intruiging indeed:

    - "...seeks Graduate/ Professional brides"

    Graduate Professional brides? I didn't reaslise that it was such a lucrative business that they even had degree courses!

    - "...Send Horoscope"

    Oh my, not that twaddle too?

    - "...Send Horoscope, Bio-data, Photo."

    Perhaps the tea leaves from my last brew, a photo of my palm, and a folio of my drawings as a child too? :-o

    - "...Autonomous Body"

    Not really that autonomous if it's going to be shoved into an arranged marriage.

    - "...Nurse working in U.K. seeks any Groom living abroad"

    Any groom? Nothing like keeping your options open.

    The mind boggles!

    Posted 20 hours, 56 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Rakesh
  24. Niket:

    We are not talking about God and religion here, are we? There is nothing in Hinduism that states the marriages have to be arranged or forced. Its a cultural and social thing. Hinduism is more of a collection of philosophies, traditions and beliefs rather than a religion like Christianity. Hence, often cultural issues get blended with religious ones, leading one to wonder whether forced marriages are a Hindu tradition.
    (Caveat: I am no expert on Hinduism; my parents are Hindu but I am an agnostic)

    I agree to Matt and Phil about their opinions on marriage. How can I spend my whole life with someone I barely know? But I have seen enough cases on both sides to know that it works. The social norms in India are also quite different, pressures are different, expectations are different. Probably thats the reason it works. Oh hell, when I finish my PhD and head back to India, I'll say "I am 30, single, and I live with my parents". In US, that may be an embarassing thing, but for me its something to be proud of - my family is important to me, so it should be for my bride. On the same note, her family should also be equally important to us. I am not sure if I have articulated my side well.

    "seeks professional bride" means "wants his prospective bride to be career-oriented".

    Horoscopes are important in our custom. These are beliefs, you either believe or you dont.

    There is also a growing trend in middle class India to seek grooms (and sometimes brides) gainfully employed in US/UK. A friend of mine used to get "arragned marriage proposals" (ie. parents of the bride contacting his parents) while in US. The day he decided to accept an academic job in India, the "proposals" reduced to about a quarter. I find this trend very greedy, may be even despicable, but who doesn't want a good future for his daughter.

    "Autonomous body" is likely to mean "gainfully employed and hence can support wife+kids without interference from parents". My guess.

    Posted 21 hours, 40 minutes after the fact
  25. Matt Southerden:


    I understood what the ads _really_ meant, I was just joking by twisting what the words _could_ say. :-)

    Regarding the marraige being cultural. Well, I understand what you mean, but surely someone in arranged marriage is being forced into a religious act? Hence it is the religion at the heart of the matter.

    I too value my family very highly indeed. Although I no longer live at home, I didn't move out because I wanted to 'get away' and have my freedom, it was because the job that I wanted to take after university was based in London. My girlfriend's relationship with her family isn't that good, and she sometimes finds it strange that I talk to my parents and sister at 3 or 4 times a week, and visit them whenever I have a free weekend. I don't think she's quite got her head round the fact that we're going on holiday with with my parents for my birthday either.

    Marriage is a strange on to me. Both my girlfriend and I do not believe in god, but we both feel that at some point in the future we would like to make some sort of further commitment to each other. Now I'm sure my mum would like to see a big white church wedding, but that ain't gonna happen (which is in some ways a shame. why does such a beutiful setting have to be bound to the religious aspect). I guess we may have a civil service of some kind. Though I couldn't get married in a registry office, that's one dull way to spend one of the most important days of your life!


    Posted 22 hours, 24 minutes after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Abhi
  26. Nicole:

    "If I were to stand on a box on the local high street one Saturday afternoon and enlighten the world that I'd discovered Cascading Style Sheets, and that it changed my life, You'd think I should be put in a padded cell."

    And, really, wouldn't being put in a "padded cell" (of a table...) be the worst possible punishment for a Cascading Style Sheets evangelist?

    Posted 1 day, 2 hours after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Matt Southerden
    Inspired: ↓ Matt Southerden
  27. Matt Southerden:

    LOL! Thanks, Nicole. That's cheered my up at the end of a mad day...

    Matt. :)

    Posted 1 day, 4 hours after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Nicole
  28. Rakesh:

    Matt, interestingly, the horror-scope is probably regarded as the single most important "compatibility test". Everything else is comparitively unimportant - even meeting your to-be-wife.

    The way it works is:
    1. Parents get to know each other/exhange phone calls/mails. They might be introduced to each other by common friends or some such service.
    2. Exchanging the horoscopes is regarded as a final step. Before that, the 'smaller' details are looked into. These include job, education, family background, social status, etc. Most of this info is got from common friends, etc.
    3. Horoscopes are exchanged and evaluated by either families' astrologer.
    4. If the horoscopes are a good match, the marriage is almost confirmed. (I think there's some sort of compatibility score that the horoscopes predict.) Of course, the entire exercise might be a waste if the horoscopes don't match.

    Somewhere in between this, there's the "guy meets girl" event. Thats where the guy 'formally' meets the girl for the first time.

    During most of the marriages in India (different people get married according to different customs in different parts of the country), there's this part where there's a symbolic 'curtain' behind which the girl sits, and the guy draws the curtain so as to see her. This is supposed to be the first time that the two see each other. Of course, thats only symbolic these days.

    Of course, every marriage doesn't follow the checklist above. But most of them do. Most of them.

    Posted 1 day, 4 hours after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Matt Southerden
    Inspired: ↓ Abhi
  29. Sunny:

    If you are really digging this stuff, checkout Mira Nair's "Monsoon Wedding". Excellent film and deals with this arranged marriage business. Also tells a lot about the culture, about seeking a foreign groom (in this case a computer professional from Arizona!) and the utter confusion of an Indian marriage. A beautiful movie. I recommend it wholeheartedly.

    Posted 2 days, 11 hours after the fact
  30. Abhi:

    I don't think religion is that important. People do get horoscopes (or rather horror-scopes) read but they don't like the most important thing in an India marriage.

    The guy meets the girl. They spend sometime together, decide whether their "compatible" to each other or not. And that decides whats going to happen - whether they get married or not. (This is what I don't like, I mean, how can people know each other so fast in such a short duration of time?)

    Marriages (atleast in the religion that I belong to) normally take place after about 5-6 months after the engagement. During that time the would-be-couple meet, talk go out (a couple of times with the kids of the family too ?!?!?!).

    Posted 2 days, 19 hours after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Matt Southerden, ↑ Rakesh
  31. Sarah:

    Matt said: "I don't agree with the forced imposition of religious beliefs upon others (be that the christening of a child, preaching to others who don't want to hear, or forced marriage)."

    Matt, the christening, or baptism of an infant is more to do with the parents' commitment to bring that child up in the Christian faith until such time that child may wish to pursue their faith with a Confirmation of such or they may just choose not to, it is most definitely a choice-based process, not an imposition :-)

    Before you ask, I'm not "God Squad" as witnessing evangelists are sometimes called, I drink gin with no conscience (sometimes with no consciousness too!)but as the mother of 4 kids in church schools I have a certain reponsibility to understand what they choose to believe, and yes, it really is that way round.

    Posted 1 week, 1 day after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Matt Southerden
  32. Anon:

    Does it really matter how or who you end up marrying. Personally I think arranged marriages should be abolished.

    Posted 2 weeks, 5 days after the fact
  33. Divya:

    Came across this entry through Prashant's site. Anyways first the "Brides and Grooms wanted" is some kind of general category ("buy AND sell" ;)).

    And an interesting snippet I would like to point out is the active interest taken by the Singapore Government in playing the match maker ( it has a "Social Development Unit" whose sole aim is to organize events that bring singles together). So, its quite all the more funny coz it isnt exactly "love marriages" then and it sort of resembles the Indian "arranged marriage" style.

    Anyways as far as I know, most fathers of would be brides in india would try as much as possible to try and "fix" the horror scope if they really like the guy or is from a good "family". The same goes with the guys as well, so I am not sure how important astrology is.. only as important as being used as a diplomatic excuse to not marry one of the brides on the market.

    Posted 1 month, 1 week after the fact
  34. Michael:

    Here I am a non-Indian guy who is in a loving relationship with a beautiful intelligent Indian girl. She is the daughter of a Hindu priest and has been groomed her entire life to be someone's wife.

    Our relationship consists mainly of hours and hours talking on the phone at night when her parents think that she is asleep. We see each other at work for a few moments every few days. We have managed to find 4 or 5 hours a week to be together in person mainly out of our area because to be seen together would be the end for her. Her parents have denied her the opportunity to become a US citizen so that they can threaten her with deportation to India if ever something like what is happening with me was discovered.

    We both believe strongly against premarital sex and have not gone down that road, so the typical arguments against a purely sexually motivated love relationship are not valid (although it disgusts me to think of her giving that gift to a stranger instead of to each other). We have been together long enough to know that we do not want to be with any other person.

    In spite of all of this she is so close to her family. With her father in such a public position there is no way that he would ever accept her choosing her own husband. Never would he accept a non-Hindu and definitely not a non-Indian. We dream of being together and having a life full of love and family, but it seems as if this is not to be.

    So she is faced with a horrible choice: her family or us. To choose her family means a life married to a man that she does not know or love, knowing all the time that the man she does is still waiting for her. To choose me is to alienate herself from her family, but if the choice was us not a day would go by that I would not pursue a relationship with them.

    In a thought that is completely not Indian, I hope beyond hope that if they truly love her they will accept us and keep her. She is so giving and self sacrificing that she will likely give up all that matters to her in our relationship to follow the wishes of her parents, who coincidentally will not have to be forced into a marriage with a stranger, be forced to give themselves to this stranger physically, mentally and emotionally, to be forced to have children that will be raised in a family where their mother has sacrificed her independence, her ambitions and her emotions to please parents that are not willing to change their ways to see their daughter happy with the person that she loves.

    I am trying to understand, and I am living each day trying to express my love to her in a way that will make it possible that there will be a choice and that she can choose us. Arraigned marriage, forced pairing, does affect people negatively by taking away all the freedom and choice that makes us different from plants. It subjects a girl to a life that is not hers, will rob me of the only person in the world that I have ever or will ever love, will rob her future husband of the gift of her entire heart, will rob her parents of ever having a relationship with their daughter where she does not secretly or overtly resent the decision that they have made for her, will keep her children from knowing the joy of being raised by parents that model the ultimate picture of devotion and love.

    So tell me that this is right and I will never believe for a moment that that is the truth.

    Posted 8 months, 3 weeks after the fact
    Inspired: ↓ Belle
  35. Belle:

    Hi M.
    I read your lengthy story about your girlfriend. I am in somewhat of a similar situation. I am in a romantic relationship with an Indian guy. His parents expect him to have an arranged marriage. Our love is hidden from everyone. Anyway, to make a long story short....Email me if you are still dealing with the situation. I would like to have someone to discuss these issues with. If anyone else reads this post and can give me any insight feel free to send me a comment. I realize this is quite an old post, but hopefully I can get some responses.


    Posted 1 year, 4 months after the fact
    Inspired by: ↑ Michael

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