Arranged marriage is a term given to that kind of a marriage where people other than the bride and the groom are involved. They include parents of the couple, priests, family, friends, matrimonial sites, match making agents or a third party.

In earlier times the rigid caste system in the Hindu society did not allow boys and girls to mix freely as they are doing now. Therefore arranged marriages were the only option at that time. During this time the bride and the groom had no idea about their partner and so neither had any say in their own marriage. Their consent was not taken into consideration. They would get to see each other only after their marriage. Caste has always been one of the most important criteria in choosing the brides and the grooms but apart from that parents also consider the educational and economic background which is also of equal importance.

Arranged marriages in today’s world

Well, as for arranged marriages now, the system is much less rigid than the earlier times. Now the parents always consider the decisions and preferences of the bride and the groom. Here the caste system gets diluted and so people find it easier to make their own life-long decisions themselves but still staying under certain restrictions. People are allowed to marry within the same caste but may choose partners outside of the sub caste. They may also choose them from outside of their own language and region. In spite of all the modernity in today’s’ arranged marriages, the dowry system, caste and age of the bride and groom play an important role.

Arranged marriages are gaining more and more importance as the number of divorces in cases of love marriages are increasing in number. So the beauty of arranged marriages lie in the fact that even though the love and expectation is not there in the relationship at the beginning but with time the love for each other strengthens and turns into a beautiful relationship.

Procedures carried out in an arranged marriage

The arranged marriage is a pretty big and elongated event. It starts right from the perspective of the boy and the girl thinking about marriage to looking for a proper partner for them and all the meetings and conversations between the couples and their families to getting the couple happily married off. This process takes a quite a lot of time, especially the part which involves the search for the correct partner. Here are the different stages of the arranged marriage taking place in a society.

ANNOUCEMENT OF INTEREST TO MARRY: This involves the parents or guardians of the boy and girl to announce that they are ready to search for a partner for alliance. This usually happens when the person to be married gets a secure job and is stepping towards getting established or an elder sibling has just got married or completion of graduation or higher studies. This is the first step in triggering the idea of arranged marriage and announcing the availability of the boy or girl for marriage.

MATCH THE HOROSCOPES AND FIND THE CORRECT CHOICE:  Matching of the horoscopes of people is quite common when going in for arranged marriages. People who believe in astrology usually get involved in this to find a perfect match for their son or daughter. The compatibility test is done to find a proper match or to reject a match too.

RESEARCH OF BACKGROUND AND EXCHANGE OF PHOTOGRAPHS: Well. This is the one of the most important step in this process. The boy or the girl should know and list down what they are looking for in a partner. Good character, good personality, a level of maturity, understanding, tolerance and responsibility, a positive attitude towards life, a commitment towards the relationship, emotionally open to the partner and a high sense of self-esteem and integrity are few of the things one should look for in a partner. A matrimonial site or a match making agent may help the family and society to look for the perfect match. The background of the boy or the girl is properly researched on the basis of caste, religion and social status, physical appearances, economic and educational background. Arranged marriages usually take place between people of the same religion and caste. Through relatives, friends and other sources, the families get to know about the past of the boy and girl, their bad habits and all of the things mentioned above. Photographs are exchanged to make the partners acquainted with each other’s faces. In more rural and orthodox families and societies, the girl and the boy are not allowed to meet at all before the marriage and all negotiations take place only between the two families.

MEETING OF THE TWO MINDS AND THEIR FAMILIES: After a prospective match is found, the match maker or the family arranges a meeting with the family of the partner. The two families meet up to see the respective partners. During this meeting the boy and the girl are given the freedom to talk and know each other, their interests, their ambitions and thus to have an idea of how compatible they are for each other. The families usually do not say anything in the first meeting and promise to convey their decisions after talking to their children regarding the prospective match. It is possible that a family may meet different matches at the same time. However, this is kept confidential. The boy and the girl also meet each other for a few days and keep in touch to get to know each other better and whether they are comfortable with each other or not. If the families see that their son or daughter is happy and satisfied with the alliance, a word is forwarded by the families or the match making agents to convey that the marriage is ready to take place. The families meet up and discuss dowry issues and expenses on the part of both the families.

ENGAGEMENT AND MARRIAGE CEREMONY: A suitable date is fixed for the engagement (usually known as roka). This strengthens the bond between the two families, making their decisions finalized about the alliance. The marriage takes place by choosing a “subh muhurat”. The marriage is carried out mostly in a formal manner strictly based on the religious rituals. After the marriage is over, daughter is bid farewell with love and blessings from her family and looks forward hopefully to a beautiful and respectful life with her husband.

Raja Kumar

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