Arranged marriages in India
Arranged marriages continue to be normative in many Asian cultures, such as Japan, India, Korea, and so on (Applbaum, 1995). Specifically, among Hindus in India, they continue to be the most popular form of organizing a marital relationship (Mullatti, 1995). Despite globalization, modernization, and urbanization, the number of arranged marriages continues to outnumber 'love' or 'self-arranged' marriages. In fact, an estimated 95% of all Hindu marriages in India are still arranged marriages (Chawla, 2004). My parents are Indian, my mother was born in the Islands of Fiji and my father was born in India, they both migrated to the US in Los Angeles, where they met though arranged marriage. The groom’s family in the Indian tradition benefits from marriage because the bride’s family is required to pay some sort of dowry. A dowry is exchanged in a majority of Indian weddings, even ‘love’ marriages. Although its practice became illegal in 1961, dowry flourishes among all social classes. Families of the bride and groom negotiate transfer of assets to the groom and his family in exchange for marrying the bride, often within the context of an arranged marriage. For example a dowry can consist of money, property, vehicles or even cattle. If the bride’s family is deprived of these things and comes from poverty it could even be labor from the family members. Dissatisfaction with the amount of dowry may result in abuse of the bride. In extreme cases "dowry deaths" or the murder of the bride by her husband and his family take place (Rastogi, 2006). Arranged marriages vary widely by region and community across the Indian subcontinent. The marriage process usually begins with a realization in the family that a child is old enough to marry. For a girl, it is during her graduation years or early twenties and, for a boy; it is after he is 'settled', with a decent job and has consistent earnings. The initiation can occur when a parent or a relative such as an aunt or an elder sister or sister-in-law initiates a conversation on the topic, or the son/daughter approaches the parent/relative and expresses the desire to be married. This relative effectively acts as a sponsor, taking responsibility to get the boy/girl married to a good partner. There is a process for arranged marriages and takes much back and forth communication through both families. Often the groom and his family will travel to different homes of potential brides and over a conversation of tea will either decided that they want their son to marry or not marry this potential girl. Either the groom or the family can reject, if one of them likes the girl, they will go from there talking about the arrangements and making an agreement on the dowry. The towns often have a matchmaker who will let the potential brides and grooms of other people looking to get married in their area with picture and numbers and addresses so the family can contact them if interested. The matchmakers consider religion, caste, culture, the horoscopes, profession and social status and physical appearances of both groom and bride before handing out potential matches. In India it is shamed for a person of Hindu religion to marry an Indian of Muslim religion. So the matchmakers must do their research to avoid any potential problems. Once there is mutual agreement between the prospective bride and groom that they would like to marry, and no red flags have emerged about either party in the inquiries conducted formally or informally, the other prospective spouses are declined and their photographs and other documents returned to the matchmaker. Families usually attempt to maintain a high level of warmth in these interactions, often to defuse any sense of later rejection. An engagement ceremony or a pre-engagement ceremony (roka) follows. In urban areas of India or even America, the future spouses are often expected by their families to go out on dates and develop a romantic...
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