Marriages in India- a social obligation?

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Why does young India get married? Or to be more precise, why does young educated urban/sub-urban India get married? The ideal answer(s) to this question would be:

  • Because they have found the love of their lives,
  • that person is the one for them,
  • they want to wake up every morning next to them,
  • they cannot imagine their lives without them,
  • they want to spend the rest of their lives with them,
  • they want to grow old with them.

(Okay, sorry! Too much mushiness happening here!)

But hey, we are talking about India, aren’t we? So who is this young India? Let’s define them first:

we are the young Indians, we go to collge, we complete university, we have fancy degrees like B.tech/M.tech and MBAs from even fancier institutes like the IITs and IIMs. Some of us even have foreign degress, you see imported maal is always good. We work in big multinationals and banks and what not. Our dear young India is very modern, you see. We only talk in English, drink black coffee, strictly use Apple products (hey don’t you dare, Steve Jobs is our God), we eat in high-end cafes and loung bars and we mingle with all sorts of people, men and women alike. We are very open-minded, you see. But we also don’t forget that we, at the end, are Indians. We should never forget our sanskars. So when it comes to finding “the one” for us, we turn to our mommys and papas. Because we respect our elders and we trust their choices, even blindly.

So besides these (obvious) reasons what are the other ones that make young Indians take the big step? Let’s list down some of them.

  • My parents think I should get married.
  • It is high time, I should settle down, get married and have a couple of kids.
  • The society expects this of me.
  • Getting married is a social duty.
  • If I don’t get married how will my family grow, and most importantly the heir who will carry on my name.
  • I want a big fat dowry.
  • It is beneficial for my business
  • I want to have sex, unlimited sex.
  • I am now in the marriageable age (or what that even means)
  • My friends and cousins are getting married.
  • I have a few grey hair now, better get married than sorry.
  • After a degree in engineering, an MBA and a job as an investment banker, I am earning enough to settle down.
  • Ooohh, I have always dreamt of getting married, and all my girlfriends are already hooked up. So it’s only fair that I should be too.
  • Arranged marriages- because that’s how we roll.
  • Because I don’t know how to talk to women, better mommy finds me one.
  • Because I never talked to guys, and of course mommy knows the best.
  • Because “log kya kahenge” (mind you, this is one of the epic ones..)

(My head might crack up but the list will go on and on. So I better stop here.)

Young India has a truck load of pretty good reasons to tie the knot. Mind you, they all are very rational and logical. You see, the young India strives for perfection. And what is perfection without a fair, homely convent-educated girl or a teetotaler boy from a decent family based in the USA/UK with a handsome package. What else does one need? The young India follows it’s timetable very sternly and marriage is of course a part of the timetable. Then comes the kids and after that we all know how life goes on.

How does young India contribute to the society? By getting married, which is very important. It is almost a social obligation. And you HAVE TO get married, no choice bro! Doesn’t matter if you are ready or not, doesn’t matter if you know, let alone love the person, you have to get married. Because it is the right thing to do. And who told you that? Of course your mommy and papa and they know the best. And who told them? Of course their mommy and papa. Hence it goes on, without any one ever questioning the mommy and papa that why is it so important to get married. It is a tradition, a ritual which has been passed down generations and young India doesn’t dare to raise an eyebrow (well, at least the majority doesn’t). Because you see, we are Indians and we don’t argue back with our elders. And we are very much better off than the West, where relationships are weak and divorce rates are high. Chi! We are so much better! Although we do ignore the fact that we have a low divorce rate because divorce is still a taboo in our country or domestic violence is rampant or many women are not financially independent or the parents don’t accept their dauhters back at their homes and many more such archaic excuses. We only care what the statistics say. And numbers speak louder than real situations, of course. So 10 : 1 and we won. Bohoo West!

We are the young Indians and we are proud of it. Although even after having white-collared jobs, we expect a large dowry and also want the woman to leave her home, her family and everything and come and live with us. Our parents should become her parents and our family should become her family. Because that’s the way it has been, isnt’ it? And who questions such traditions? Tauba Tauba, not we! We are the cultured young India. We havn’t forgotten our values. So our wives come and live with us and our families and take our name, and wear ridiculous symbols to shout to the world that they are married (even if they don’t like to, they must). Then our kids take our names and we become their first guradians. And so with kids we fulfill our duty to the society. We have given them the future of India who will make India a better place to live in (hopefully).

And that’s how my dears we make marriage a social obligation, because this is our happy land and to reach the happy land what do we do? Yes, you guessed it right. We get married!

Disclaimer: This article has also been published on Youth Ki Awaaz.

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441 thoughts on “Marriages in India- a social obligation?

  1. as much as I agree with the fact that in India, it’s more of a social obligation to get married rather than a need, but at the same time, I have big reservations against the “apple” stuff, that seems to be too much of an exaggeration, but I get your point, I couldn’t agree more on financial dependence of women and divorce being a taboo and this needs to be changed, but who’ ll bring about that change?? of course us..??
    because when it comes to choosing life partners, I have seen a lot of boys and girls adopting a pattern of loving some1 else and marrying as per their parents’ wish, this needs to change, either they should stop loving or stop getting married to “the choice”, and I couldn’t agree more to the financial dependence thing you wrote, but, not marrying some1 we love plays a big role in it.. and lastly I am not sure, every young guy/ girl in India follows this train of thought of getting married as an obligation, I have brothers and sisters and I know a lot people who are yet to succumb to this, not just them but their parents also.. so, I like what you wrote, but I am not sure, whether you could generalize it or not..

  2. Undoubtedly the majority of the population takes ‘ Marriage as a social obligation ‘ than a necessity . But the question is why does age factor play the huge impact , ok I strictly like the minimum age attainable to get married, but it doesn’t mean once u attain the age limits u are rushed upon to a relationship . Not that your forced to commit with someone , but your forced to commitment . I ain’t saying u can take your own sweet time to marry , but it’s even necessary to practically act and be mature in handling the responsibility . People ‘ It’s better late than never ‘ , but what’s more important is ‘ prepare yourself before choosing , so that you live well ‘

  3. suicide rates in older age are high in foreign countries where as in India though not happy with children in old age, atleast suicide thoughts are not there with the old people.
    mera bharat mahan (our tradition our culture is always gr8)

  4. I agree with her in most of them.. I always why Indian men are such losers when it comes to dating and finding their woman..we have a long way to go, may be another two generations before we see people living free, happy and love their life to fullest…

    1. Indian men are not losers , its girls who go for well settled men so you cannot expect every man to be earning more than 10 lpa by age of 28-30 , as a woman will you marry a guy from whom you cannot expect financial stability??

      1. I apologize in advance for this being so long, but bear with me. It’s worth it.

        Being an Indian man, I feel the need to say that most of my friends who are Indian men are losers. Let me explain. Most of them don’t know how to speak to a woman, much less respect her and treat her as an equal. Who is responsible for this? Our so-called traditions and cultures, which teach us everything that has been said in the article and more. Do they teach us good things? Yes, BUT there are a lot of negative things that are also taught and become ingrained in an Indian man’s mind, even if he goes to another country. Worst of all, it teaches entire generations to blindly follow what their elders taught them and never teaches them to actually question what they see. One of my favorite quotes by Albert Einstein is “Blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of truth.” My interpretation of this, because I’m sure everyone understands it differently, is that it is necessary in your life to question what you are told, what you see, and what you feel. It is necessary to make your own opinions, your own judgments, and your own experiences. If everyone did this, we could change India forever. This is what truly separates us from animals: the freedom of choice. Without the freedom of choice, there is no difference between us, animals, or even robots. Life is not a step-by-step process, no matter what you have been told. To be human is to make your own choices and your own experiences.

        Also, to answer your question PK, women (at least the good kind of women) don’t and shouldn’t see men as simply a bank. Marriage should be something that two people do because they are in love and want to spend the rest of their lives together, not because you can get financial stability or fulfill your social responsibility (which by far, is the worst reason I have ever heard to get married).

        Finally, PK, I’ve read your comments and you, my friend, are exactly what is wrong with young people in India today. I don’t know where you got your statistics and I am truly sorry that you see life, love, sex, people, and marriage in such a negative way. I also don’t see how you differentiate between love and companionship in marriage. It is better to be single rather than be married to someone you don’t love. Without love in a marriage, there is no affection and no care for the other person. The only thing that develops is a very uncomfortable feeling, the same feeling you get when you are stuffed into a very small room with another person and there isn’t enough room for either of you, but you have to stay in the room with that person for the rest of your life. I have even seen absolute hatred develop in arranged marriages, which is never good. In a love marriage, the person you are married to is your best friend and companion. There’s a reason people say their husbands or wives are their better halves. If you want reasonable examples of that, look in any country you want. You’ll find it. I do hope you find happiness in life someday though.

  5. I guess you have exaggerated on lot of points…. I am unable to gauge what was your reasoning of writing this article…. Marriage is social obligations because since evolution that has been the case…. There are people who have not followed it and lived happily too… U can do that if you feel that ways…. Why to question the institution of marriage??
    India is in 21st century, you have right to decide what do you want and act accordingly… Every culture has its own traditions and thus woman do wear few things that reveals that “They are Married”… The people when they look for marriage, they want the best for their child…. Any harm?? Whether they get or not is different question…. Dowry is social evil and it has to come to end… Agreed… But who will bring the change… WE, 21st century young Indian…. In many families, this tradition has come to an end thanks to us where we stood and made a point that we cannot accept dowry, come what may… Elders also realize generation change and if you can put your point across they are willing to do away with certain things easily…. We are part of society and its our responsibility to create the society which we want…

  6. Why should we get married soon? Yes? Why? The best part is to get married at 30+ and have kids at 35 and another kid at 38… then when you are about 50 (again the young India is not so healthy because of the so called eating habits at the high end cafes) and your health is not so well, you worry about your kid who is just about to enter his high school.. so by the time he/she graduates, you might not even be there, or you will be taking a lot of stress on how to make your kid settle or see him stable in his/her life. The worst part would be that the kid might not have his/her dad when he actually needs some support. But yeah why to get married soon?

    Our traditions are deeply rooted… we need to respect them and accept things in life.. lets be practical then foolhardy.. I finished my masters in US from one of the top 10 universities and after observing life here, I sincerely feel that we need to be planned and make sure that we are not late at most of the things in life,

    Other part: every thing has its pros and cons.. you cant deny it and just stop looking at things from a narrow perspective… think ahead,, think beyond and think responsible… Instead of taking examples from the failed ones.. get inspired from the successful married couples and think positively.

  7. I did my MBA in the US & one day when I was speaking to a friend from Thailand.. (a 26 year old girl), I was surprised as hell to learn that even Thai society completely did away with the practice of arranged marriage a decade or two back. I was left wondering if India is the only place in the world where this is still so rampant. The best part is – this girl’s family is very protective of her – her folks would make sure she would fly to and fro Thailand only with her brother simply for health reasons (she had a certain health problem so her family wanted to be a bit cautious) – but still she had a very serious boyfriend since years who her family knows about, and she doesn’t seem in any hurry to marry him.

    I was just surprised to learn that several other Asian countries do not follow arranged marriage (even in China practically every girl has a boyfriend and gets married to someone she has found on her own) – even in countries that are relatively traditional in terms of family values and pretty protective of their kids as well (only protective – not imposing anything on them). I have always been more in favor of ppl making their own independent decisions, however, this was even more of an eye-opener for me – I was surprised to learn abt this. India is undoubtedly pretty regressive & I recently had a bad experience which showed me that Indian boys still follow & listen to their families blindly.. I am 28 now & I can completely relate to this article – it reflects society here (you see it playing out in society & with your peers from school/college when you reach this age).

  8. “How does young India contribute to the society?. By getting married”. This had me cracked up. I guess, in my head I can organize 3 categories of people
    1. Who marry for security – there is someone who will have your back. Someone to share your finances with :P. Make sure not both are bankers else another economic downturn and you lose the leverage
    2. Who strongly believe in the institution of marriage – whether by NOT questioning the society or just because of their optimism of sharing life in an ‘accepted’ manner with a person they can sit and chat when they are 65
    3. Who marry for all the reasons you gave in your article.
    Unfortunately, in India, most of the people fall under category 3. Sometimes….me too!

    Another perspective/thought on the same topic – http://vidushisandhir.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/flaws-and-woes-indian-marriage-system/

  9. Indeed an excellent put-up by you. This exactly have been my question. For girls I can say, Parents or Indian society has this notion that since they aren’t the bread earners of the family, it’s not too obligatory for them to do something in life or to have a good career unlike guys because the house doesn’t run on their salaries. If they aren’t well- off now or do not have a career ,they can easily marry. I think this notion is at fault. This is one of the reasons why females take a backseat in our society.

  10. Stupid article, If you expect every person to have love marriage then for your kind information 75% of population will remain single throughout their lives. The reasons behind this is:

    Most people dont find true love by age of 28 and after they are 28 nobody is interested to fall in love
    Male to female sex ratio, most men fall in love with beautiful girls ad most girls fall in love with well settled men so for 1 beautiful girl there are 10 single men available and at the same time for 1 well settled guy there are 5 girls simply because of the skewed sex ratio
    Marriage is not just about love , its about companionship, you cant stay single throughout your life in search of true love what matters more is companionship which you need when your children grow up and get busy in their lives there is only 1 companion who is beside so get some sense inside your head!!
    Sex , yes people need sex because its a need and it has to be fulfilled else people will flock to prostitutes and end up infected with STDs is that what you really want!! so if marriage is a solution for that whats wrong in it? Physical need is something which evey individual has the right to fulfill
    At last people who are giving examples of Thailand having culture of love marriage , please for God sake give some reasonable examples, Thailand’s population will be even lesser than population of 1 state of India, there guys and girls have abundant options to fall in love and find soulmates

    Coming to arranged marriages the only thing I dont like about this system is the caste restriction which restricts your choices and ultimately you have to compromise and settle for someone when in fact you could have got a much more compatible person had these obstacles not been there. Its hightime the govt. should abolish all these casteism once and for all because more than the rituals and traditions its the emotional and physical compatibility that matters for any couple

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