Deranged Marriage

2:56 PM Shanky 28 Comments

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This season is the happiest for everyone and I like happy times. Businesses are happy about the boom in sales, Parents are happy about getting their kids "settled" and kids are happy for having found the right match. Coming to think about it, everyone is actually optimistic about the future and I like optimistic thinking as well. However, in all the euphoria about the rosy future we still drag along a demon from the past which has no relevance, according to me, in the modern world. The demon is haunting me right now and what actually got me thinking about it was an interaction with one of my batch mates. This guy recently tied the knot with his girl friend and I met him for lunch as his office was near mine. We had worked together in the same committee while at Lucknow and knew quite a bit about each other. As usual the conversation started with a pointless, useless question when my friend asked me, "So when are you getting married?" I took a casual sip from my glass of carbonated poison and shrugged my shoulders. He persisted, "Arey! Tell me, saale. By now your parents must have started the hunt" He referred to the bridal hunt, which every Indian youth is aware of, as if it were the latest Roadies audition. I nodded in agreement accompanied with a wry smile. He continued, "Look, even if you go one chain lower in your FB friend list you will be able to find a suitable girl. I am sure!" I coughed up the poison that I was drinking and started laughing. Just because he has had a fairy tale wedding it cannot be that he has no clue about the system. The system of arranged marriage, which I call, deranged marriage. Initially followed by the western royal families who have now moved away from it to change according to changing times. While this practice is now prevalent in their colonial states. Intelligent buggers these colonialists!

As a dutiful friend and a co-societal being I explained the process to him. When I finished the entire process, especially the one that pertains to a traditional south Tamilnadu family, he was wide eyed in disbelief and gulped his poison, thanked his stars that he was not subjected to this torture. 

Of all the steps involved in a deranged marriage, what I find the most amusing is that you should only get married to a girl from your own caste and some parents even go into sub-castes, sub-sub castes etc. I have no clue how many levels they have. I have earlier in my old blog (which is defunct now) talked about why we should question the relevance of some practices in today's life. While we evaluate technology and adopt as per changing needs and time but refuse to do that with customs and rituals is a blinker. Let me tell you why I think the caste based marriage made sense for my ancestors but no more appeals to me. 

Why it made sense to my ancestors
Caste system in its inception, as narrated to me by history books and wiki, was a classification based on the work you do; in essence the skill you possessed. So a Brahman's son could end up being a Kshatriya while a Kshatriya's son could end up being a baniya etc. Also, even town planning was done in a way that all the people with related skills stayed together. This is further corroborated by several street names that exist even today. This not only made societal sense in terms of easy planning of town and facilities required in an area but also business sense in terms of clustering

Now, what does this tell me? Guys and girls from the same caste were in close proximity and had enough chance to interact with each other, observe each others' response to situations and other people. It gave them time and opportunity to evaluate each other. Also, the girls in the same caste understood the work life of her partner because she sees it day in and day out. She understands the difficulties, the opportunities, the up side and downside. So, it made sense for the same caste guy and girl to come together and say I understand you and I think we can make our lives easier, more pleasant and make it a journey worthwhile to be made together. 

Why it makes absolutely no sense to me
Slowly the caste system got corrupted in India. No surprises there! Any system in India is susceptible to corruption just like how any iron is susceptible to rusting. It is only a matter of time in both the cases. So it just took some time for the greedy Kings and ministers who wanted their sons and daughters to be with them. So they made caste system birth based rather than merit based. Then again, time wreaked havoc and we are in a state where it is a kichdi of the previous eras. While caste is based on birth, the work I do is not. The logical relationship between caste and work is abolished while the illogical relationship between caste and birth is still withheld. So, to find a partner in this kichdi world is to get married to a stranger who by birth is in the same caste which makes no sense to me. 

I find it logical for a guy to marry a girl from the same profession. Though this is not necessary, I find it at least appealing. But the idea of marrying a girl about who you have no idea is appalling. If you guys find any relationship between the castes of the guy/girl to get married to one another, please let me know! I will at least change the title of this post if you convince me.

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  1. So, you are not opposing arranged marriage. You are only opposing "caste" based matching in arranged marriage, right? The dating life in India (especially south India) is not that mature at this point of time. Even for love marriages, we still need approval from our parents, who also have btw become more mature nowadays in accepting love marriages.

    My mom told me (verbatim) "Why can't you find a girl yourself? Why are you troubling us to find one for you?" Me: "It's not as if I'm not trying!"

  2. Srikanth - Thanks da!

    Thyagu - I oppose Arranged Marriage and hence the title. This post deals with the caste aspect of it. Love marriages, in my opinion, are low primarily because of the caste hurdle.

    Some of our parents might have a wider view of the world but not all. Also, it could be their strategy to smoke the rat out of us :D so, beware :)

  3. Interesting perspectives on arranged marriages. As always, I would say that the success of any marriage does not depend on whether it is love or arranged, same or inter caste, same or varied professions, or even if you know the person before hand or not. The only way a marriage works is when all concerned parties conduct themselves with maturity. Absurd and ridiculous people cannot be in a happy marriage.

  4. Thanks for stopping by Sumitra.
    I completely agree with your assessment here. However, you have just stopped at the first two steps - Happy Marriage means reasonable people must be present. Now, how do we find the reasonable people to involve in the marriage is the whole brouhaha about!

  5. @Shanky,

    Interesting article! I think RK would concur with all of your points :)
    Let me justify the caste based marriage system prevalent in TN, though i don't believe in it as well. Most religious customs and traditions vary from caste to caste, even though we maybe celebrating the same festival/event. For that matter, there's a significant difference in the way we follow certain day-to-day activities like the food we eat, what we spend our money on, whether we live with parents etc. Most of the above are individual choices, but in all likelihood your decision is influenced by your upbringing. Now, if you say you find it appealing to marry a girl in the same profession, ideally caste based marriage should appeal to you as well! While the former ensures that you've a partner that understands your challenges at work, the latter will know (in all likelihood) what keep you happy when return home from work!


    Avan avanukku avan avan kastam hmm? Eppove veetla expectations la set pannidunga, illana future la problem aagidum!

  6. So, ponnu paathaachaa Shanky :) ? Kidding man !!! Good post....

  7. Ha ha.. On the contrary.. arranged marriages should be like Year end sale.. pushing items by hook or crook.. They shud never be demanding... :) Sighhh..!!

  8. @Vinod - Interesting perspective Machan! Point taken!! But does coming from same caste ensure the understanding of the partner? I am still unsure if the answer is yes!
    Because I think it is the context in which you are brought up rather than your caste. Also, today when everyone has lost their roots and have traveled considerably taking in practices from their second or third homes as well, does caste still hold the relevance as common denominator? If the answer is yes to an individual, then he must go for it!

    @Neha - Welcome to my kirukkal world :) The post in itself is an answer to your question!! Wish you a very happy married life :)

  9. @Deva - LOL...:D True in certain cases where the bitter truth are buried forever!!

  10. Dude, I'm not sure if our pre-marriage process was inherited completely from Western counterparts. I suppose they wont go to the extent of verfying 10-15 matches in horroscopes.

    I partly agree with you. Whether you choose ur partner from the same field of work or not, you need to spend some time together, understand each other and as in western countries, meet the parents on both sides.
    Let the parents meet each other, do some background checks on their part and discuss with you, as their experience also counts. When both sides are completely satisfied, you could proceed with the marriage.

    This seems like best of both worlds. It eliminates caste system, horroscope matching, promotes new genetic combinations through cross breeding, giving rise to better species biologically in long run.

  11. @ Shanky - the perpetuation of caste through arranged marriages is elaborated in the article "Peculiar Tenacity of Caste"(link given below)
    On a completely different note - Read the section "Individual Mobility" which makes an interesting case of how caste, in India, brought democracy closer to the masses. And how democracy made caste loyalties stronger. Of course these influences are not uniform across the country, which the author acknowledges.

  12. Hey Shanki,

    Nice post da. I agree with u pointing out the flip sides.. It totally sucks with the domain gets hugely reduced :P Yet what makes no(or little) sense is, why does India have such a low divorce rate (1.6%) in the world with such a system?
    May be the takeaway is, despite the obvious irrational corrupt system, the system works and the boys can continue to play along ?


  13. @Subbu - yeah da.. best of both worlds is wht we all aspire for :) But expecting the best seems to be too much to ask.

    @Sarma - Thanks for dropping by and the link dude. Haven't read that epw article. Though caste could have made a lot of good inroads into indian society, our obsession with caste as a common denominator for marriage is a little disturbing.

    @kuttie - Thanks a lot for dropping by da. Machi, I think the low divorce rate is due to our allergy towards failure and the tendency to 'adjust' with any inconvenience.
    Yes, we boys can afford to play along.. at least we get a better financial deal ;)

  14. well,I will try my go, to convince a little bit. mine is an arranges marriage. I have just completed my 25th anniversary. ratio of arranged marriage failures are very less. Love marriages (mostly) not all, end in a divorce. Girl suffers more because she is rebel. son remarries,as per their parents liking because that's what they wanted, and they try all gimmicks to be a spoilsport. Problem arises in girl's future. arrange marriage due to patronage of social support, is hard to break.
    there is a saying "where there are two utensils,they gonna make a sound. In love marriage, the rosy picture of love life ends and new responsibilities and counter expectations start. resulting in break ups. prudent boys now are now opting for semi educated girls, who can be just good housewife, to enjoy full life. Like they avoid working girls for marriage. job of a housewife is more tedious and not an easy one.

  15. @Maun Vision - Welcome to my blog :) You just added one more question mark to my statement. So is this manipulation of girls through societal pressure the only success for a marriage? And you imply parents scheme to break their son's happiness!!

  16. It is a major factor. a girl born and brought up in those values, considers a lot of society. Parents, what they do, and not do, differs from parent to parent. but in majority of cases, parents, though may not scheme anything, but, never leave any opportunity,where they see their son has some hot topic discussion, to add some more salt and pepper to it. (if they detest the love marriage). The agony of lost money,and lost stature is a always in their heart.
    Chanakya has said people should learn from other's experiences, otherwise this life is short to experiment everything on ourselves and learn.
    This has given an idea of a post. I will today itself write up a post and putup on my blog.

  17. @Pramod - Nice nice. will wait for the blog post then.

  18. I have posted tea time saga 10 at my blog

  19. Thanks for stopping by Rohan!

  20. Nice post da. Some contrarian views: I think arranged marriages are the outcome of the overall Indian societal need, its population and its development status rather than just an enforcement made by families with their caste system. In that sense, caste system based marriages may just be the only choice than a cause as we look at it. It could be that Indian society is not yet matured and developed enough to allow its average people to choose any partner (at random - as per the society/meme/gene whatever) and live life. If you look at it from the macro/ideal perspective, arranged marriage ensures societal compatibility whereas love marriage doesn't necessarily ensures that (action performed by a group Vs. two). We can argue that the definition of society/societal circle differs widely especially at present times. But in the societal sense it only increases randomness which is probably not socially acceptable.

    We can probably say that the indian caste system is being replaced by stature, level of maturity in terms of love/individualism and culture in the western world when it comes to marriages. So even if you make a mistake (as our parents fear of what will happen to love marriages in India) it won't be that bad as their society demands a certain level of maturity from everyone (It will not be that bad in the case for arranged marriages in India as a certain level of societal/caste expectations are to be met).

    As much as we want our parents to understand the need for love marriage, we ourselves need to understand the need for greater level of societal maturity (which could ensure societal compatibility even as the definition of society changes, say for instance with friends' circle compatibility - as someone in a western world might expect - only movie/tv series based knowledge), true affection and divorces and a way to find true happiness rather than just being together to meet societal circle's expectations.

  21. Machi! I am truly honored that you broke your lazy habits to comment on my blog :) Thanks :)

    As far as the maturity and the contrary views. I too agree. But as you rightly pointed out in the last paragraph, with changing meaning/definition of caste and society I think we individuals (us and our parents) need to be much more open.

    And another interesting observation that I made with my friends is that, the popular notion about education that it will eradicate caste or racism or any such narrow thinking is not true.

    So as you mentioned.. It is a long journey. Hope we take the first steps if we have not taken it already!

  22. Well timed post and insightful comments.

    I laughed my stomach out when I read "The dating life in India (especially south India) is not that mature at this point of time." :D

  23. @Pramax - Thanks for dropping by machi :)

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