Friday, August 5, 2011

Arranged Marriages Now and Then

        As you know, arranged marriages were a very integral part to India in my time. I have not yet been married but I know the process of marriage very well. First, some history on arranged marriages. The arranged marriage has been a part of the Indian culture and the Indian world starting as early as the fourth century, very early right? Many of the people even consider this process to be a very integral part of Indian society as it serves six functions in the community. They are 1) it helps maintain the satisfaction system in the society 2) it will give the parents control 3) preserve the ancestral lineage 4) strengthen the kinship group 5) allows expansion and consolidation of family property 6) enable the elders to preserve endogamy ( which is the marriage within the tribe or social unit). A lot of information, but it was necessary for this world to live. This type of arranged marriage lets the upper caste unite and maintain its families. It eventually spread to lower caste families as well. Today, there is still arranged marriage, but it is a little different from my time.
        I am not married, but I know the process very well. The male’s family seeks out the female, and most females are married before they have hit puberty. The male’s family is also responsible for arranging the marriage. Most times, a matchmaker, called a nayan, is used. The nayan is usually a family friend or distant relative. Matchmakers help seek out the female and are negotiators to help with the match. Anyways, once the arrangement and match has been made, the two families meet to discuss various things including, dowry, time, and location of the wedding, the birth stars of the boy and the girl, and the education. While all this is going on, the couple-to-be are able to glance at each other. Most Hindu pre-wedding ceremonies take place on the very important day of acuta, the most spiritual day for marriages. After the ceremony, the female goes back to her house, and I know what you are thinking, what, they just got married? The male will then summon the female and life will begin at his house. The mother of the male will teach her the ways of his house and all that is needed. She is not allowed to interact with males, because she is still considered pure until the consummation. After the consummation, the male and female will begin life together and will live happily ever after. Now isn’t that a long process?
        Arranged marriages years after my time are very similar, but with one major difference. The male and female will be able to marry for love, not like in my time. The actual ceremony takes place during the night and it five to six hours long. The priest, me in this case, is summoned to preside over the marriage. The wedding adheres to all the rules and is made sure by the priest. There is a lot of festivity and all the family members come. The male makes his promises and so does the female and then the marriage is over. I am hoping that my family will one day find that perfect woman for me and will live life happily ever after.

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