If you are a woman who’s single and about 25 years old in India and you haven’t yet managed to find yourself a boyfriend or an aaifriend (gives royalty to Vivek for aptly using the term in Anniyan) , then you are perhaps losing your mind right now over this never-ending maze of a process called arranged marriage.
From well-meaning Maamis at weddings to those nosy Gurukkals at local temples, suddenly everyone knows that you are officially in the “market”. As per the plan in your dreams, you were supposed to exchange phone numbers with your crush- but no. Reality has your folks exchanging Bharat Matrimonial Profile numbers with fellow Maamis/Maamaas.
Your horoscope is printed and distributed like Airtel Broadband Plan brochures. Once a week, you may also wake up to phone calls that go like “You remember X’s brother’s wife’s brother-in-law? He has a friend who has a brother and he is looking for…”
Congratulations. You have officially progressed from random goals of “Aayul aarogyam aishwaryam undaagattum” to the sole, specific mission called “Vivaaha praapthirasthu”.
The first thing you need to do when you have entered this arranged marriage process (whether it’s out of your own choice or otherwise)- is to shed any emotional baggage.
Simply put, have no regrets about the past or high expectations from the future. I am not emo-tweeting there. Really.
Many of us, especially in this generation, come with emotional baggage of sorts – some of us perhaps messed up in past relationships, some of us never had the chance to be in one despite trying our best, and there are some that never tried. Whatever the case, the end result is now you are a “girl” looking for a suitable “boy” or vice-versa. (In this Matrimony lingo, it doesn’t matter if you are over 20. You are still a “girl” that a 30-year-old “boy” may be looking for.)
So, needless to say, it’s better to be sorted in the head before you enter this process and go in with no regrets. At the same time, you are better off NOT having any expectations of falling in love any time soon – for you hardly find love when you “want to”.
All the dreams that random novels put in your head come to an abrupt halt- you don’t “accidentally fall in love with someone” – instead, you end up playing a never-ending, harsh game of selection and rejection- and mind you, it works both ways. All you can do is hope that you end up with someone you respect and get along with decently. And pray that love and all that jazz follows.
Because of all these reasons, it is important to take this whole thing with a pinch of salt (or preferably a truck-load of it) and a sense of humour.
On that note, let me give you a heads up about 5 frequently encountered atrocities in the process leading up to an “arranged marriage”.
- On these matrimonial sites, almost every man is looking for a woman with “traditional values but modern outlook”. I don’t even know what the hell that means. Whether it is Madisaar saying Hi to Microsoft Outlook?
- I could write a separate blog post on photographs uploaded on Matrimonial sites.
I am not even talking about judging a book by its cover and all that. Not even getting that far. My problem is, I am not even able to see that cover clearly. All I can say is,
– Kindly avoid ultra close-up selfies. It’s kind of scary. Once I could once see the micro-hairs inside someone’s nose.
– No mug shots please. If you are turning your head to the right, your face cannot be seen.
– If you are wearing a pair of huge shades on ALL your photos, your face cannot be seen.
– If you are wearing a cap AND a pair of shades AND you have a beard and you are turning to the right… well, you get the idea.
– And for Heaven’s sake, please don’t upload only group photos. I can’t single you out from a group of people, when I have never seen you in my life before.
– When you upload photos in which there are mighty mountains, tall trees and you are just a small spec, I can appreciate the scenery and the travel enthusiast in you, but I can’t see you.
Please go stand at a place where there’s good light, hand over your phone to a friend and ask him/her to click a picture of you. Upload that photo. It’s very easy.
Disclaimer: I am a woman so I have written this from my POV. This is not intended to be a gender thing. Applicable for women wanting “modern outlook” and putting up unclear images also.
- Selection and rejection are part of this process, whatever the reasons may be. You may reject people because it doesn’t “feel right” and you may get rejected because you listen to Kannadasan and not Coldplay.
To each his own. What sounds reasonable to someone else may sound silly to you and vice versa. One cannot be faulted for wanting someone with similar tastes and preferences. But what one CAN do is ensure clarity in communication.
It’s hard to take a No, but to say No is harder. But that’s no reason to delay it. If it’s a No, don’t wait for the right time, just say it. May be politely and tactfully – but get it across to the other person. At least you are not wasting their time. Also, if you are unclear about something, ask. Be on the same page.
- “Ivanukku enna korachal?”
A few months into the groom-hunt, when you have still not made much progress, people around you start losing it. Your folks would suggest someone and if you say No – their instant reaction is “Ivanukku enna korachal?”
You don’t want to marry someone just because there’s nothing wrong with him. You want to marry someone because you have reasons to like him and respect him.
I don’t buy the “Ivanukku enna korachal” argument one bit. Any decision that you make must be justified. Whether it is to decide to just talk to someone or go all in and end up marrying them – let it be because you have your reasons to do so – not just because “there’s nothing wrong with him”.
- How long is “too long”?
At long last, after ages, you may find someone you may want to talk to (who also wants to talk to you. But the moment you get off the first phone call, you have people waiting for your verdict. Convicted or Acquitted? Yes or No?
Till today, I don’t know how long I can take to make up my mind. A week? Three days? One phone call? How long is too long? What happens if I find things okay in the first 3 days but know better only later on? Won’t I be confronted with the nightmarish question – “Why couldn’t you have said No in the beginning?”
The only solution to this again is probably to talk about this to the person concerned early on and arrive at some consensus. The time a couple needs to figure things out is subjective and cannot be generalized but the point is that this factor needs to be considered and sorted right at the beginning.
Getting into arranged marriage is perhaps a disappointment for a lot of us in today’s time and age. 50 years ago “love marriage” was taboo. Now if you admit you are a part of the arranged marriage process, people look at you as though you are not fit for life (Ivan ithukku seri pattu varamaataan moment).
It’s great if things have worked out for you the first time around but not everyone is that fortunate. Like I mentioned earlier, if you are convinced that you have done all that’s in your power but destiny has other plans, there’s nothing one can do other than accept things and move on.
It’s true that the arranged marriage process can be made fun of – it is true that it has its pros and cons – it can drain you and tire you emotionally. But I don’t mean to disrespect the system in its essence. These sites and your family referral network are just a means to find you someone. What happens after that is entirely up to the individuals and their maturity level regardless of whether it is “love marriage” or “arranged marriage”. You do see success stories around you and I guess all you can do is be optimistic and wait for your turn.
Lastly, remember that your folks want the best for you. I have been impatient with my Mom several times since all of this started but I realize it is very wrong to channel your life-disappointments-based anger towards people who wish the best for you. A non-existent love story is definitely not more important than your harmony with your own family. Get your act together.
My best wishes to everyone on the same boat. Let me plug my “arranged marriage” goal here before leaving. 😛 >>