Indian Marriage System

19 08 2006

We have some rights up on you and therefore your marriage happens to be our privilage although you will get enough freedom to make the final decision.

This might well be a stereotype dialogue from an Indian parent to a young son or daughter. My parents too made the statement recently. I wanted to rebel but then the thought that a debate about this with old parents is a futile exercise revocked me. I did not answer, which to them probably meant that although I might not like it, I neither protested, while for me it was a silent but outright disagreement. Still, it made me think about the whole institution of Indian marriage and love. The following are some of the conclusions.

  • Indian arranged marriage system by theory and practice puts sex (and therefore procreation) as a ritual to be performed and marriage as an institution to keep it under control. (we are yet to get out of the hangover of the “original sin”)
  • It revolves more arround the familes of people bounded by the wedding knot and therefore synonymous with the matrimonial-political deals of the ancient kings.
  • The whole practice is conducted as if the aspect of love – both mental and physical – has just a secondary role and presenting themselves as “happily married” cheerful couple before the society is more important.
  • It always lack a romantic touch.
  • All anachronous identities like religion, caste and subcaste are perpetuated (or procreated)till eternity by this system with a seemingly logical argument (an outright blunder or sophistry) of cultural coherence between the wedded pairs (yet another form of old racial purity theories).
  • The contempt or displeasure towards “self found mate” emerges from an appalling adherence to a status quo which most disagrees at heart. (for the parents never enjoyed that freedom and so they convince themselves that it need not be granted to off springs)
  • The system might work well apparently in very many cases(more because couples never let their displeasures be known to the world), but essentially kills the basic urge for freedom and hence progressive thinking by and large, for we are yet to reconcile with the concept that freedom of choice maynot essentially give you an everlasting happiness but only the pleasure that you are free.
  • By and large, an arranged marriage couple (because of the very process) never enjoys a great sex life. But this fact is kept as a taboo which ought not be uttered at any cause.
  • The openness of society is curbed and debates between diverse perspectives are never encouraged even inside familes due to this process.
  • The people to be married need to be really good actors to bear with the drama of meeting the prospective bride, marriage ceremony etc. The process tames an individual (a usual common man) to be a lesser individual by following certain dictums rather than expressing own genuine feelings.
  • The process encourages conservatism, religious power structures and patriarchial system.
  • Women are more oppressed and tamed as to be projected as wife of Mr X. rather than being a genuine Ms Y.

Well, I know that this is a really contravertial subject. Also, I agree that all the above mentioned things need not happen in all arranged marriages as a rule but more important is the general impact it has over society. I would rather advocate young people to go for self found mates at any stage. My other argument for it is that you can be responsible human being only when you take responsibilities into your hands without waiting for the time to deliver a solution.

Unfortunately, large many of us (men) were conditioned to look only through a traditional frame of thought. Thus alternative processes like dating happens to be an emberassment. This might change with time, although I do not expect a radical change among all communities. Caught in this ghost of past conditioning, I see myself in an awkward position. But one thing that I do believe is that it is not a rule that you should marry, but if it is to be done let it not be a sacrificial ritual to please the GODs of society (or even family).