Personal observations on life

The anachronism of Arranged Marriage

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For those who are not familiar to this concept of ‘arranged marriage’ let me give you an introduction.

In certain parts of the world, there is this custom of parents searching for a spouse for their child once the child is of marriageable age. The parents search for a groom or a bride in various ways. Traditionally, there used to be ‘marriage brokers’ who would bring alliances. If the marriage happens with one of the clients that the ‘broker’ brings, he will get a commission. With the advent of print and and later digital media, the function of the marriage broker was taken over by newspapers and matrimony sites. They advertise all the boys and girls in the market currently looking for a partner. In matrimony sites on the internet, you need to pay a fee to join.

Now, let me tell you why I believe that it is time to do away with arranged marriage.

  1. It is antithetical to nature

Human beings are living organisms with all the characteristics of living things, and reproduction is one of them. Mother nature in her infinite wisdom has deemed it appropriate that all girls and boys are attracted to each other at a certain age, and may go on to copulate, and thus perpetuate the human race. Arranged marriage negates this basic nature of human beings. In a society where arranged marriage is the norm, boys and girls are taught to ignore whatever impulses of love they feel towards the opposite sex, and to suppress it. They are taught that once their parents arrange their marriage, they are free to love! Thus, what happens is that one suppresses one’s natural inclinations, and is asked to feel love for a person he/she hardly knows. Arranged marriage is against nature’s scheme of things.

2. It takes away the individual’s agency

Agency is defined as the capacity of an individual to act independently and to make her own free choices. Arranged marriage negates an individual’s agency. When the individual does not make a decision about who to spend the rest of her life with, and who to have children with, she is in effect giving away her right to her own life. Since the individual is not responsible for the decision, there is no ownership here, and no sense of responsibility. Thus starts a life of emotional dependence on others, especially parents.

3. It becomes a business

If you look at the matrimony columns of popular newspapers in Kerala, you will see very strange descriptions of prospective brides and bridegrooms. Skin colour, religion, caste and the family reputation all come into play in this market place. Look at these advertisements:

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Where is the concept of companionship? This is no better than matching two people with certain characteristics together in the hope that they will live happily ever after. How can a person be reduced to a couple of characteristics?

4. It reinforces divisions in society

If you want to see how many fragments society has divided itself into, just visit one of these matrimony websites that abound. Is it any wonder that communal differences become more and more pronounced in this modern times instead of fading away into oblivion where they rightly belong? Why do we emphasize our differences instead of highlighting our similarities as a race?

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