IT’S ALL ARRANGED
by Natasha Trilokekar
During the school terms two and three, our national newspaper The New Zealand Herald runs a College Herald. Secondary students from all over New Zealand, each week, submit in articles on different themes. 20 students‟ pieces get selected each week and Natasha‟s
article was selected under the theme “My Culture”. She wins $100 from The New Zealand Herald. Her article, as it appears in the paper today, follows just for your entertainment!
(Sanju and Sonia please print and pass on to the respective Dads if possible…they‟ll be happy. Thanks!)
Indian style matrimony, I have discovered, is a topic of fascination for many of my Kiwi friends and it makes a hot conversation piece too. Many have been reduced to tears on my behalf, when they have heard that I too, someday, may be a victim of this unfair and most heartbreaking form of match making.
Stop the press! Hear me out first. Arranged marriages have a notorious reputation among those that do not understand them. In fact, the Indian way of „falling in love‟ is a finely tuned combination of art and science that has been perfected over the centuries…and it works.
Embracing the term generally, arranged marriages occur when the parents or other family members of a man or woman introduce the bachelor and bachelorette to each other. This happens after first finding out whether the other eligible soon-to-be has the adequate qualifications, medical history, family values, and personality to suit. (And in most cases, financial status as well!) Sometimes, even the horoscopes are analysed to ascertain they match. Arranged marriages have been a part of the Indian social system for a very long time, probably since the very birth of the institution of marriage.
Don‟t get me wrong. India isn‟t just the land of butter chicken, gold jewellery and cheesy Bollywood acting, intent on clinging onto the past century. It embraces the modern world with ease and is a leader in science and technology. Yet, Indians choose the old fashioned, reliable way of getting hitched.
Arranged marriages are extremely popular to this day amongst the international Indian community. A quick search on the Internet comes up with 369,000 Websites from all over the world dedicated to arranged marriages. The statistics shout out loud too. The official Harvard University Website states that 90% of Indian marriages are arranged. It also says that compared to a 50% divorce rate in America, Indian marriages have an average rate of divorce of 8%.
There are organisations dedicated to setting up Indian marriages all over the world, very much like the traditional dating services. Thick sections in the daily Indian newspapers list
thousands of singles, marriage CV circulation clubs boast 5 million members each and every family discovers no shortage of nosy old females who have nothing better to do all day than set couples up. Help, regardless of whether it is wanted, is always close at hand!
My grandparents have been married for over 60 years and they are they happiest couple I have ever seen. My dad, a merchant mariner, could have had a wife in every one of the 46 countries he visited all over the world. Instead, he chose to be the „victim‟ of an arranged marriage. The path of the happy, stable family man, husband and father he is to this day has been a decision he has never regretted.
As for me, my future, marriage-wise, is slightly foggy. My parents are tight lipped as to who can qualify for a position in the game of love, and whether or not I can offer some nominees. I suspect they have intentions in mind though, as they love to drag me to any sort of Indian get-together. No worries! I might just discover some worthy future contenders…