(Last Updated on : 17/12/2013)
Arranged marriage is no doubt the most common, most preferred kind of marriage
in India. This form of marriage started gaining importance more and more as child marriages started prevailing in India. The extent of this practice was so severe that the parents started deciding matches for their children while their children were just born, sometimes even before the child was born. Arranged marriages could get forced upon the bride and the groom and the choice of the married couple was not always considered. However, in recent times, the choice of the individual getting married is considered and respected. Today, even in arranged marriages in India, involvement of the children is considerably more and parents' role is rather for suggesting the family alliance and the choice of the bride or the groom is not forced upon the children. The couple is also allowed to spend time alone before they decide about getting married. In fact, today the children are asked to approve of the suggested alliance at all even before they meet the family.
Most people tend to equate Hindu marriage
with arranged marriage. The parents in order to meet this domestic obligation prepare themselves mentally and, more importantly, financially when their child reaches marriageable age. They search for a suitable partner keeping in mind the societal rules regarding cast, creed, natal chart, and financial and social status of the family. Traditionally it is the girl's parents who bear the cost of the wedding and to jumpstart their daughter's married life they shower her with gifts and ornaments to take to her in-laws. Unfortunately, this has aggravated people's greed culminating in the many evils of dowry system.
Arranged marriages in India differ from community to community and from place to place. These ceremonies are indispensable, highly religious and significant. The rites of marriage are also social and are meant to increase intimacy between the two families. However, with a little variation, the usual custom and rituals are more or the less the same throughout India.
Considerations for Arranged Marriage
Since the traditional Hindu society and its caste system didn't allow dating or free mixing of the sexes, the arranged marriage was the only form of marriage in the society. The parents typically considered educational background and economic background in addition to the caste to choose the brides and grooms.
Arranged Marriages Today
The arranged marriages are quite common even in today's India -- only the criteria has slightly changed. The rigid caste system is somewhat diluted and marriages outside of the sub-caste are considered, so are marriages outside of one's own language or province (still within the same caste). Age, caste and dowry play important roles in arrangement of marriages in India today.
The Institution of Arranged Marriage
A marriage in India is considered a marriage of families rather than the marriage of individuals. The parents try to solder the bonds with their friends by arranging marriages between their respective children. In olden times the boys and girls married in their teens so it was considered appropriate that the parents choose the spouses instead of leaving the decision to the kids.
A type of arranged marriage where the maternal cousins and sometimes maternal nephews married is also common in India. This was known as rightful marriage alliance in some communities, and possibly came into existence to "keep the money inside the family".
Process of Arranged Marriage
The steps involved in an arranged marriage vary by communities and families. Sometimes they involve extremities such as "promise made while gambling" or "bride whom the father of the groom likes", but here are the most common scenario, and the process can break down at any step -- mostly earlier than later.
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