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The essay written by Serena Nanda entitled “Arranging Marriage in India” was published in The Naked Anthropologist in 1992 (Nanda). As such, 25 years had transpired and the status of arranged marriage has definitely changed through forces in the external environment, especially technological and socio-cultural factors. The statistics on arranged marriage revealed that in India, the percentage of marriage that are arranged is 88.4%, or 35.15% higher than the global rate (Statistic Brain Research Institute). Yet, despite the higher percentage of arranged marriage, the divorce rate attributed to it was significantly lower at 1.2% as compared to the global divorce rate for arranged marriage at 6.3% (Statistic Brain Research Institute). The current discourse hereby aims to present the manner by which arranged marriage has changed with time and the impact or influence of technology. Likewise, the reasons why the practice is still flourishing in India would also be expounded.
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Changes in Arranged Marriage Through Time
As narrated by Nanda, arranged marriage used to be undertaken through the parents’ initiative and active solicitation of possible brides or grooms for their children. Nanda disclosed from her interview of various Indian nationals whose parents actively searched for potential spouses that “parents do not compel their children to marry a person who either marriage partner finds objectionable” (Nanda 106). The manner of searching for a bride or groom was traditionally noted to include word-of-mouth, advertisements in newspapers, and even telling priests to assist in finding an appropriate match. As revealed, “before the internet era, people would spread the word, advertise in newspaper under classified matrimony, and also tell their priests to find an alliance. Over the time this method has changed. People started creating resume like bio-data, and sending to distant places with beautiful photos attached” (Crisp Report 1).
Another change that was reported included the participation of the children in locating a spouse for them (Allendorf). According to the author, there were evidences of previous studies attesting that “younger cohorts of women are more likely than older cohorts to have been consulted by their parents in the decision to marry” (Banerji, Martin and Desai cited in Allendorf 2&3).
Furthermore, other factors that were noted to be instrumental and contributory to changes in arranged marriage included the following: “schooling, television, and Bollywood movies transmitting new ideas about love, marriage, and inter-generational relations. Several also explicitly referred to changes in thinking and the abandonment of old ideas and concepts” (Allendorf 17).
Influence of Technology in Arranged Marriages
The increasingly more prolific use of the internet paved the way for significant changes in the way searching for potential spouses for arranged marriage. In contrast to the traditional word-of-mouth, advertisements in newspapers, as well as relying on the assistance of local priests, the internet facilitated immediate search opportunities in a wider range of matrimonial partners. As revealed, there was emergence of social networking platforms that encourage facilitating dating and searching for potential spouses (Crisp Report). Other contemporary young adults use their smartphones to find Mr. or Ms. Right (Bennett). In addition, as reported, “local tech companies are getting involved, too, designing programs focusing on safety as well as compatibility” (Bennett 1). There were incidences reporting untrusting parents soliciting the services of private detectives to pry and confirm whether the backgrounds, behavior, and personalities of advertised men or women in online dating sites are indeed accurate and reliable (Bennett). As reported, the private detectives usually charge a minimum of 50,000 rupees or $1,000 (in Australian dollars) to ensure safety as well as compatibility in matrimonial matching (Bennett).
Reasons Why Arranged Marriage is Still Flourishing in India
From the explanation and eventual affirmation of Nanda on the viability and benefits of arranged marriages in India, the practice was confirmed to continue flourishing until current times (Statistic Brain Research Institute). The reasons noted by Nanda remains applicable and continues to confirm that arranged marriage seemed to be better than traditional matrimonies allegedly based on mutual love or love match. As mentioned, arranged marriages which start from the parents’ commitment to locate the most appropriate spouse for their child would ensure that parents would search for a person who possess the qualities they believe would be best for their child (Nanda). Moreover, the getting-to-know stage actually begins with the marriage and apparently makes it more exciting and fun (Nanda). The reason was corroborated by Shahid Kapoor, a celebrity in India, as he spoke of the benefit of arranged marriage. As revealed, “You start with zero expectations and once you hit it off, every day is better than the previous one and all the highs come in the course of marriage. In romantic relationships, you reach the peak of your romance before marriage” (Pathak 1).
Concurrently, other reasons which attest why arranged marriages last longer include the following: no preconceived notions or expectations, marriage based on compatibility, parents’ involvement is seen as a plus factor, inclusion of the family in the process, the absence of excessive emotions which could be maddening yet fleeting, and the stigma of divorce apparently lessens separation (Moore). These reasons were affirmed by Nanda when she indicated that “in a society where divorce is still a scandal and where, in fact, the divorce rate is exceedingly low, an arranged marriage is the beginning of a lifetime relationship not just between the bride and the groom but between their families as well” (107).
In retrospect, arranged marriages in India was acknowledged to be a persistently continuing practice. Although there were marked changes in terms of the search process, to include the participation of the marrying adults, the manner of locating a potential spouse through social networking platforms, as well as seeking alternative dating and matrimonial applications due to technological advancement, the fact remains that arranged marriages continue in contemporary times, especially in India. From the reasons which have been realized by Nanda, the benefits of arranged marriages validated their continued flourishment. The inclusion of the parents in the selection and matching process, as well as the confirmation and agreement of the potential matrimonial partners, make arranged marriages a unifying social practice that binds, not only the partners, but their respective families for the rest of their lives.
- Allendorf, Keera. “Schemas of Marital Change: From Arranged Marriages to Eloping for Love.” 1 April 2013. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Web. 17 March 2017.
- Banerji, M., S. Martin and Desai, S. “Is education association with a transition towards autonomy in partner choice? A case study of India.” Working Paper. 2008. Print.
- Bennett, James. “India’s dating revolution.” 17 February 2017. abc.net.au. Web. 17 March 2017.
- Crisp Report. “Technology playing a bigger role in how people meet for arranged marriages in India.” 4 July 2016. crispreport.com. Web. 17 March 2017.
- Moore, Tanya V. “Why Do Arranged Marriages Last Longer than Love Marriages?” 13 February 2017. tanyavmoore.wixsite.com. Web. 17 March 2017.
- Nanda, Serena. “Arranging Marriage in India.” 1992. gettysburg.edu. Web. 17 March 2017.
- Pathak, Ankur. “Here’s Why Shahid Believes Arranged Marriages Work Better ‘In The Long Run’ Than Love Marriages.” 2 January 2017. The Huffington Post. Web. 17 March 2017.
- Statistic Brain Research Institute. “2016.” 2016. statisticbrain.com. Web. 17 March 2017.