I have this strong urge to pen something this morning but I have no particular topic to write about.  In fact as I sit in front of the screen, umpteen thoughts are flitting through my mental scape and most of them are quite mundane. I am wondering when to go to the bookshop, to the Lifestyle store to exchange some merchandize that doesn’t fit my husband and to the kid’s store to buy some clay dough for my hyper excited baby.  Basically they are family chores, an off shoot of a married life but a happy one at that.
Just before switching on my laptop and sitting down here, I spoke to my aunt, who has a daughter of marriageable age, about matters of the nuptials and the procedures of arranged marriage.  I quite believe in arranged marriages, mine is one and it’s going quite strong and steady. However, the procedure is expensive and painstakingly long. Of course technology has liberalized it to an extent but a lot is still bureaucratic and protocol based.
Foremost, the biodatas of the interested boy and girl are exchanged, the family tree is understood then some ‘inquiries’ – as they say it are conducted, which is nothing but some discreet verification of family facts and background.  After this preliminary and successful round, photos are exchanged of the boy and the girl in question. Of course this stage now stands obsolete after the revolution of the social networking sites. Now you see not one photo of the saree or salwar kameez clad shy girl but catch all her candid moments that she thought appropriate to upload.  And it’s not just you, your entire khandaan can take a quick peek into the Facebook account and read the face.
Once the face and the photo catch each other’s fancy, meetings are arranged.  Parents meet the parents, boy meets the girl’s parents, girl meets the boy’s parents and finally boy meets the girl. What a sequence. But thanks to the technological invasion, the “Chat” application has become quite handy. Before the real meeting, some virtual meetings are helpful. If the interest fizzles out while chatting itself and you realize there is no intersecting point for individual thoughts, you can save some big bucks by not flying for the real meeting unnecessarily. As you know there is no such thing as low cost airlines in the domestic sector anymore. So you not only salvage yourself from some awkward and embarrassing meeting but might book yourself on an Air Asia flight and take a holiday in Sydney at Rs. 15,000 return airfare straight. And upload some more candid pictures for the next khandaan to see.
Eventually, after some growing interest while chatting, when the two individuals and families come face to face, some scrutiny assessments are done by the womenfolk on the guy’s side. A lot goes in what the bride-to-be wears, how she wears, what she talks, what dishes she whips in a jiffy and a lot more. The boy doesn’t really go through the pressure test.  Finally, after the scrutiny and personality test, which looks like it, lasted for an eternity, the two young souls meet. Some initial small talk and the two open their hearts and mind to each other, trying to understand each other’s aims, aspirations, expectations and limitations. After this open heart session, they either come convinced or confused. The conviction could swing in either side, which is their togetherness either feels heaven made or it would be disastrous. If the meeting results positively all is hunky dory and jubilant but if it ends negatively everybody goes home with some lurking tension in the girl’s parents’ mind.
However, if there is some doubt in the hearts and minds of the two individuals with respect to their future together, they meet a couple of times more before reaching a conclusion though the relationship may not necessarily materialize. And then begins another cycle of biodatas and meetings.  Whatever be the talks of gender equality, I being a female, for sure know this whole process is quite mentally taxing for the girl. Can’t comment on the men folk though.
This is the usual flow chart for an arranged marriage. Of course the conditions may be a little relaxed or stringent depending upon the families, their communities and socio-cultural set up. A lot of youths question this whole system, asking how is it possible to make the right choice in just a few hours time, to know each other in a couple of hours?  To which I only know that time is no guarantee for the success of a relationship. I have seen several love marriages fall apart miserably despite the fact that they knew each other for a long long time before entering the holy matrimony.
I have nothing against love marriages, but I only believe that love before marriage doesn’t guarantee a blissful married life. Moreover, if you believe in love at first sight, you might possibly fall in love with the person whom your parents have shortlisted and arranged to meet. Or the fact that the meeting is arranged and not natural or coincidental detracts you consciously from enjoying the person and liking his company?
Anyway, the love at first sight scenario is rare and quite fictional in our times; most relationships grow over time and so is true for a marriage. The life of the marriage is not based on its genesis, that is whether it is love or arranged. How much time you invest in each other before marriage is not the criterion for its success.  Knowing each other is not enough for the vow of “till death do us part”, accepting each other is the key.
Acceptance comes with time and patience. Time spent not simply before marriage but in the marriage and for the marriage.  And perfect marriage is a myth. If marriages were made in heaven why do we have divorces on earth? Because Marriages are made on earth between flawed individuals like me and my husband and there is a lot of thrill, joy, effort and responsibility in making it work.

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