BAH-BOM-BAH: Let’s talk about arranged marriage

Melissa Nazareth writes from her shores in Bombay to ours in Bahrain.

Can’t believe it’s been a year since I got married! Time sure does fly. I remember saying ‘yes’ to my then friend (we never dated), around the same time two years ago. When I broke the news in office, one of my non-Indian colleagues asked me with tongue in cheek if my parents had selected the boy. Now, I don’t blame this said colleague because it’s a notoriously popular myth that ‘all Indians have arranged marriages’. Another myth surrounding this one is that Indians meet their spouses-to-be on the day of the wedding or, at best, few weeks before D-day. Wrong! While that may have been the case two generations ago, arranged marriages in India have evolved ever since. In fact, they’re quite similar to Western ‘free-choice’ marriages, more commonly known as ‘love marriages’, in that the boy and girl get sufficient time to know and understand their prospective partners; in some cases, like mine, even a whole year. The difference is that the boy and girl are introduced to each other by parents or extended family members instead of, say, friends or destiny.

It’s interesting how the internet’s role in Indian match making has tremendously risen over the last decade or so. A growing number of Indian singles are relying on matrimonial sites, the equivalent of Western dating apps, to find their partners. A survey conducted by one such site to understand the changing mindset amongst young (20 to 35 years) singles and their approach towards marriage highlighted that 59 percent respondents would like to initiate the process but also get family approval before the wedding, 23 percent said “with a partner who I found” and 19 percent were willing to go in for an arranged marriage. The figures clearly indicate that there is no apprehension towards modern arranged marriages given that the boy and girl are more involved in the decision making process. Another statistic was that 75 percent of people who signed up on the site were seeking marriage partners for themselves and not a family member, which goes to show that majority young Indian singles have a more hands-on approach to choosing their life partners.

When I broke the news in office, one of my non-Indian colleagues asked me with tongue in cheek if my parents had selected the boy.

In answer to my colleague’s question, my husband and I knew of each other and had met at many a family function for 17 years before we decided to take it to the next level. That’s longer than most marriages last these days! And in the 7 years preceding our marriage, we were very good friends. Did we seek our parents’ approval? Yes, but the choice to get married was solely our own. Would we make different choices given a second chance? Ah well! My husband and I believe that’s a story for another day (wink wink).

Melissa Nazareth, Born in Bahrain, Melissa Nazareth lived on the island for three decades before moving to Bombay. Though miles away, she finds ways to connect to her first home.