Here’s how love happens in India. Girl finishes college. Parents decide when time is right for her to marry and when time reaches, they begin the search for a `suitable’ mate. The suitable mate roughly means; right caste, right education, right family, right financial capability, right skin tone-yes skin tone and last but not least he is willing to accept their daughter. Coz here’s the deal; the guy is the one who makes the ultimate decision.
Now, how does it work for the guy? Like the girl, he finishes college, gets a job (a girl needs not have a job) and then the parents decide when he will get his bride. Usually the search for the bride is conducted amongst family friends (they are more likely to have similar background) as well as opting for the now popular method of going online. Many men and women are getting matched with other Indians across continents because as we all know Indians are practically everywhere. And if no one suitable is to be found within your locality, how about a suitable engineer working for IBM in Canada who happens to meet all the criterion;caste, education, family status, complexion yes complexion? This sites have become so popular that I have several colleagues who have met their partners this way.
If the candidates meet all the requirements (pardon the techicality of all this, it really is a science 🙂 ), then they move to the part we’ve maybe heard of in passing. That Indian girls pay the dowry for the men. It’s true but a little bit more complicated than that.
Traditionally and historically, the Indian girl is unfortunately considered a `burden’ to the family. She is quite expensive to maintain and is not considered to be of much value. Her value probably comes in marriage and motherhood. The `dowry’ is accumulated by the parents over a series of years from when a girl is born, usually in the form of gold till she marries. The girl’s parents usually mark every milestone with purchase of gold to give off to the girl when the time comes for her to get married. The gold and money is meant as financial security and to take care of the girls economic needs in the new home i.e., she will not be a financial burden to her husband and his family. There you have it, dowry is a girl paying for her rent and every other cost she will incur in the new home. Sad? Indeed. I think it’s pathetic.
The family of the boy may drive a hard bargain especially if the boy is well educated, with a fantastic career and therefore promises a better life for the girl than is the usual. I have heard of girls and the parents taking loans to finance dowry. I also know of women who’s prospects of getting married are quite low because the family simply cannot afford a husband. This has led me to make some conclusions about the Indian boy here.
Back to the marriage sequence. Once the parents on both sides agree on the right amounts, an engagement ceremony is organised. The engagement is a ceremony involving all families to now state that yes, Ram or Lakshmi is indeed getting married and this is the person chosen.
The couple is allowed to meet up once or twice before the engagement. This is to at least know each other and feel a little bit at ease before proceeding with engagement. Previously the couple was chaperoned during this meetings but recent changes and `moving on with the times’ has allowed couples to meet and interact alone. Usually the meetings are just to say hi and to find out what the other person is about. Usually hobbies, likes and personality are discussed. Yeah, 2 dates to find this out.
After engagement, a wedding follows or as its referred to here ‘marriage’. People say `am attending so and so’s marriage’ meaning wedding ceremony.
For those who chose to defy traditions and chose for themselves who to marry (which is quite rare), this is called LOVE MARRIAGE.