This weekend, I watched a couple of interesting docu-features on television. One was about finding life partners for the not-so-young upmarket Indian professionals. The story focused on a man, a woman and their struggles in the marriage market. The girl narrated how difficult it was meeting men and their parents. One tiny meeting was supposed to decide her fate. She shared how she picked the venue to meet and actually prepared for what she would ask the boy. December is the month when you see many NRIs coming to India on vacation. Their families pushing the boys to ‘see’ girls and get ‘settled’. Some of these boys end up seeing 3-4 girls in a day! Welcome to the Find The Mate Circus. The entire process seems so crazy even when I have been brought up in this country.
Dating is not easy in India. Women have it ingrained in them that their bodies are sacrosanct, that they must only enter into a relationship with a man if it is serious. Boys know that a promise of marriage is crucial if they want to take their relationship beyond the courtship phase. We have seen many complaints of rape being filed by jilted lovers when the man backtracks on this promise. Live ins are not common. And even there couples look for the sanctity of marriage to bring legitimacy to their relationship. In this scenario, it is quite possible that many haven’t really found a man/woman who they would like to take the marital plunge with. Though, you may be very comfortable with your singlehood, the Indian society tries to marry you as soon as possible. How else will they then push you to give them the khushkhabari (news of grandchildren)? In this country, we just don’t like to mind our own business.
Hence, many girls and boys in their late 20s or early 30s with panicky mummyjees and papajees who feel that they have missed the marriage bus, go on these ‘seeing’ expeditions. It is a known fact that in India families play a very important role in our lives. And why not, when grown up children (adults) comfortably live with their parents. Many of them actually rely on their parents or in laws to bring up their kids while they climb the rungs of the Corporate ladder. But, this importance gets stifling when the parents push their wishes and views in selection of their adult children’s spouses. Let me not even go the regional/caste/religion/cultural criteria that they expect their offspring to stringently abide by.
The tales that the girl and the boy shared were quite sad. The girl had been rejected for the weirdest of reasons ranging from earning too much to her skin complexion and acne to her health. The boy was rejected because he was balding, did not have six packs or was close to his family. Don’t know if we can blame the system, our society or our own callousness when we don’t pause to think for a second about the emotional damage that we wreak on another human being when we reject them this ruthlessly. Perhaps, it embitters them to the other gender and also to the institution of marriage.
The larger issues of compatibility, mutual respect and love are set aside in the favor of somehow getting the boy and the girl married. I wonder if such marriages face more issues in terms of adjustment and sustainability. Why can’t we just leave our youngsters alone? Let them live happily and only get married when they find love instead of pressuring them because they are past a certain age or because our society tells them so?
Do you foresee the marriage tamasha ever changing in our society?
P.S: My post Travel and tears was recently published on HuffPost India. Do give it a read here if you haven’t already.
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