Arranged Marriages –Seems like a weird idea! The Western mind is boggled by this concept. This is a very vast and complex subject, but with some time and patience it can be understood. Most people think of arranged marriage as a deal which parents make on behalf of their son or daughter without their consent. This is not how arranged marriages are organized. It might be true in some rare cases, but not in today’s day and time.

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Arranged marriages are common in the Eastern world. In India they are commonly practiced even today. To understand arranged marriages one has to understand the culture of the East. As I  am from India, I will write with an Indian perspective. The culture of India is very vast and diverse. There is a difference in traditions and customs between different people groups. The people of North and South India have different variety to food, dress and customs. And same is true about the living and physical conditions from the East to West of India. It is also a land of many religions. In the same geographical territory different customs are followed by various religion and ethnic groups. But just from the surface, it can be said that it is a collective culture with a large power Index ratio. Hofstede’s Power Distance Index measures the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions (like the family) accept and expect that power is distributed unequally.  The children grow up in families where traditions and values are highly respected and followed unconditionally. It is a culture where elders, teachers, doctors, priests are respected for their authority and position in the society. They deserve unconditional respect. Along with all these values and belief systems, decisions in the family are generally collective. The whole family together makes decision about the important life things in life. There is a common saying in  our culture which says that when a person marries he does not only marry his or her spouse but an entire family.

Now, with this as a foundation let’s discuss arranged marriages. If expressed in a simple manner it is a marriage which the bride and the groom are introduced by a mutual friend, family or genuine well-wisher.  In the very first step, before any meeting both the parties exchange general information of the person and the family.  The information exchanged can be about the age, work, qualifications, family, and the place they live or grew up but are not limited to. These details can be specific to the person also. Some people might even want to know approximately the height or weight of “person of interest”. When both parties feel satisfied about the superficial data they move on to the next important and huge step. At this point if either family does not want to go ahead with the proposal it is completely fine. For example I have had a friend who did not want to marry a doctor or nurse so if the proposal is from such a family, then my friend’s family would stop the process at the very first step and look for the next proposal.

Now if the initial match was a success, then the two families meet each other. They can meet at either of the family’s home or even at a common place. The possible bride and groom meet more than once depending on the family and situations.  In these initial meeting they talk about their hobbies, interests, goals, desires and many other things of interest. With the help of their families and the person who brings the alliance, they try to make a good educated guess. If everything seems good they try to seal the deal. At times either family may have some non-negotiable desires which they expect to meet. So they might have to go through this process many times before they find the suitable match. Sometimes thoughts, desires, work situations just don’t match, and in those times the families have to let go.

The biggest advantage of this kind of marriage is there is more than one person involved in the entire process. There is a lot of discussion, debate and examination involved by each member of the family. But after all that is done, you still pray and trust that the relationship will work. Research suggests that most arranged marriages are a lot more successful and I am a true witness and an advocate of  it, as I am enjoying the benefits of this system.

Please feel free to comment or ask if you have any questions or concerns regarding this article.

Glory Christian.

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