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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Personal observations on life

Takeaways from the tragic case of Uthra

The case of Uthra should, if nothing else, pave way for the complete abolition of dowry, in all the different ‘layers’ of society, the crude people who openly ask for dowry, and also the sophisticated upper class that doesn’t openly ask but expects it nonetheless.

The case of Uthra should also lead to the abolition of the thinking that in order to live a good life, a woman has to be married off, at any cost. It is perfectly fine for a boy or girl to remain single, as long as they have an income to support themselves. There is no point in saying that if one doesn’t have children, there will be nobody to look after them in old age. It is nonsense. Better check into a retirement home and enjoy life with your peers than suffer loneliness living with your adult children.

Thirdly, all parents should know that what they need to do is not to save money and gold for their daughters’ marriage, but to use that money to give her a good education that would get her a job and financial independence. Teach her to be assertive and bold.

The fourth change should be the complete abolition of the outdated and unnatural tradition of the ‘marriage of convenience ‘ in which money, social position, religion and caste become the basis of a marriage between a man and a woman. Instead, marriage should happen when a man and a woman find affection towards each other, companionship and compatibility in each other, and genuinely want to live with each other. In order for this to happen, our society should accept that a human being is essentially an organism that looks for a spiritual and sexual companion once it comes of age. It is basic human nature. It is a natural urge to look for a partner when a child grows into a particular age. Our society should do well not to suppress that urge, and stop indoctrinating young minds that it is a sin even to talk to the opposite gender. Abolish all boys’ and all girls’ schools and colleges, and let boys and girls mix together freely.

Fifth, Uthra’s case should lead to a change in how society views divorce. A divorce should be seen as a decision arrived at by the partners in a relationship when they find themselves incompatible, when there is no respect for each other anymore. Society should view divorcees with compassion and give them moral support instead of condemning them.

Finally, stop discriminating between the boy child and the girl child in the family. Give both equal share in the family property instead of giving the girl a dowry and sending her away. Let boys and girls both carry the family name. Let children have both the mother’s and father’s names as their surname. And don’t make it mandatory to change a girl’s name or family name after marriage. The girl should carry her own family name, not her husband’s family name.

These are radical suggestions. If our society would at least start thinking along these lines, many Uthras would live to a ripe old age happily. There will be less injusice due to misogyny and patriarchy. There will still be problems, but there will be less hypcrisy and less suppression of human sexuality. It will be a more just, fair and equal society.
#saynotodowry #saynotoarrangedmarriage


when little people speak up

art artwork gallery glass window
Photo by Matheus GuimarĂ£es on

When little people speak up,

When the veil is lifted,

When uncertain steps

break into assured pace,

When a bent head

suddenly looks up

with burning eyes,

Who with conscience

can ignore?

Who with a just heart

Can deride?

Is it a sin,

to have dignity?

To have self-respect?

To finally find one’s voice?

When nuns in cloistered convents

Rise and shine,

I am sure,

There’s joy in heaven.