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  • Arranged marriage is common in India. For those who are not familiar with it : It is a practice in which someone other than the couple getting married makes the selection of the persons to be wed, meanwhile curtailing or avoiding the process of courtship. (Wiki )

    When I was 19 my parents started looking for a suitable groom for me. At that point in time I used to feel that my parents know the best and I was ready to marry anyone they chose for me. But going through the entire process for selection of a groom has changed my views about arranged marriage and through my stories I will share how I decided that this was a practice that would not work for me. My parents and my journey through the arranged marriage ‘market’ and our experiences – some bad, some good and some ridiculous has taught us so much about life and people. Most importantly – it has brought us all closer as a family in spite of some really difficult arguments and disagreements.

    One interesting point to note is arranged marriage is also connected with Dowry – a princely amount in cash or kind that a girl’s family is expected to give a guy’s family on finalization of the marriage proposal! Caste, religion, social status,etc. play a very important role in the match making process.

    Right from a young age I was vocal about my views that Dowry was evil and I would not marry a man that asked for money to marry me. My parents agreed with me but then they kept telling me that there weren’t many good, single men who wouldn’t want a dowry. So my choice would be limited. I told them it was fine, but I didn’t want to meet anyone that wanted money for marriage.

    So our search began.

    A guy came with his family to 'see' me. This is a normal thing – ‘seeing’. You visit the girl’s family with your parents or few relatives. The elders talk. They ask the guy if he likes the girl in all the 10 or 15 minutes he gets to stare at her or speak with her, and if he is Ok usually the deal is sealed! (Today people are more open minded and listen to their children’s wishes.) In most parts of India this is how marriage are made.

    Ok so back to this guy. He was in the army, a few years older than me and from a well -known family. I got those golden 10 minutes to speak with the guy in a separate room. He asked me if I liked western clothes. I happily said yes (and that was his first question?)! His next sentence shocked me. You can’t wear western clothes if we get married. I asked him why? He said he liked women wearing those tiny clothes. But his future wife would have to be ‘decent’ and wear Indian dresses and follow Indian value system. I shut up. I didn’t want to talk with him after that. He continued talking about this and that. Finally he told me that a stray cat had kittens in his house. That brought my attention back to him. So I asked him about the kittens – how many, what colour? He said that he didn’t look at them much. They were such a nuisance. He was fed up of their meowing so one fine morning he has bundled the cat and her kittens in a sack and threw it on a state transport bus! He happily told that he has sent them off on a journey and laughed heartily. I felt like I was with a psycho. I ran out of the room and straight to my dad. I asked my dad to throw that crazy man out of our house immediately….Dad was shocked but he told me to be patient. Meanwhile, I ran back to my room and shed tears for those poor souls whom this guy has in all probability killed. Later when they were gone, I told my parents about what happened and they were sad too. We didn’t expect to meet someone like this!

    Next morning my dad got a call from that guy’s family saying he was fine to go ahead with the marriage. My Dad said we were not Ok.

    I kept thinking what did that man understand as Indian Value system – was it just about women not wearing western dress?

    Picture courtesy: By Gori Girl [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
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