18. How an arranged marriage takes place How marriage takes place

Mohan : Good morning, Mr. White. What are you doing this morning?

Mr. White : Oh hello, good morning! Nothing much, what about you?

Mohan : I have to attend a wedding. Would you like to join me?

Mr. White : Oh, yes, with pleasure. I would like to know how a marriage takes place here but I haven’t been invited.

Mohan : That doesn’t matter. You are my guest and I can take you with me. Moreover, the bridegroom is my own cousin.

Mr. White : Well, I don’t want to be a gatecrasher, that is all. But if you can take me as your guest, I’m game for anything you may suggest.

Mohan : Ok, then hurry up! Get ready and we’ll go.

Mr. White : I have known that marriages in India are very stable unlike those in western countries. Please tell me everything about your marriages.

Mohan : Here most of the marriages are arranged marriages, arranged by parents or relatives.

Mr. White : That is what I want to know. How does an arranged marriage take place?

Mohan : When a boy attains the marriageable age, his parents look for a suitable girl for him.

Mr. White : You mean his parents find out a girl for him.

Mohan : That is right. The boy’s parents and other close relatives find out a good girl from their own community. In doing this their family status, social rank, wealth, educational background, etc., are considered. Discreet inquiries are made about the girl’s character.

Mr. White : How do you find out these things?

Mohan : They are gathered from reliable sources such as neighbours and other people in the locality who know the girl’s family well.

Mr. White :  Yes, I understand that.

Mohan : You see, normally, when a girl is of marriageable age, her family friends and relatives will suggest her name when they know that a boy’s people are looking for a girl, But usually, the girl’s parents never approach the boy’s people with the proposal.

Mr. White : You mean it is always the boy’s side that takes the initiative.

Mohan : Exactly. It was considered beneath one’s dignity for the girl’s side to do so. But times are changing and now there are brokers and marriage bureaus helping to find a suitable girl. Newspapers also have matrimonial columns helping both sides to find a suitable match.

Mr. White : Yes, I have been reading some of these matrimonial columns.

Mohan : So when the boy’s parents and close relatives are satisfied with the girl in all ways, they approach the girl’s parents with the proposal. The boy, his

parents and others go to her house to see her.

Mr. White : Does the boy also go with them?

Mohan : Yes, he does. It is done in several ways. Sometimes only the relatives go to see the girl first and if they are satisfied, the boy is taken to see the girl. If all approve of the girl, their horoscopes are examined to find if they agree.

Mr. White : Do you all believe in astrology?

Mohan : Yes, most people in our community do. So if the horoscopes don’t agree, the marriage won’t take place. To avoid disappointment, nowadays the process is reversed. The horoscopes are scrutinized first and if they agree, the girl is seen. Those who do not believe in astrology, don’t bother to get the horoscopes examined.

Mr. White : Do you all have horoscopes?

Mohan : Yes. The horoscopo is written two or three years after the birth of a child.

Mr. White : How is it done?

Mohan : Everybody is born under a star. The exact time of birth is noted. It is believed that the position of stars and planets at that time influences his life.

Mr. White : What does the astrologer find out?

Mohan : If the astrologer finds that the horoscopes agree, the marriage is fixed.

Mr. White : If they don’t agree?

How marriage takes place

Mohan : They will look for another girl.

Mr. White : Is it easy to get a matching horoscope?

Mohan : It depends on luck. Sometimes it is very easy. In some cases it is very difficult. Nowadays the number of people who do not believe in astrology is increasing.

Mr. White : Is that so? Such people don’t get the horoscopes examined?

Mohan : No, they don’t. If everything is okay, an auspicious day and time is found to solemnize the wedding. The engagement takes place before the marriage and a date is fixed for that as well.

Mr. White : Where does the marriage take place?

Mohan : It takes place at home, in the temple or at a kalyana mandapam, wherever it is convenient.

Mr. White : Anyway I am going to see it now.

Mohan : But what I have told you is the way it takes place in our community and in this part of the state.

Mr. White : I know it differs from community to community and from region to region.

Mohan : Yes, it does a lot. Certain communities don’t believe in astrology at all. The bride’s people can look for a suitable boy and so on.

Mr. White : How does the engagement take place?

Mohan : Generally on the date fixed, the groom’s party consisting of a few men, the boy’s father, uncle, close relatives, neighbours and other guests go to the bride’s house. The bride’s people will also invite a lot of guests on the occasion. In the bride’s house, the elders meet, discuss and fix the date and other details of marriage, sometimes in the presence of an astrologer. Otherwise, the dates and time fixed earlier by the astrologer are read in the presence of all present.

Mr. White : So the groom doesn’t participate in the engagement, does he?

Mohan : No, not usually. But as I said earlier, everything is changing fast. Nowadays the bridegroom and some ladies also go with this party. The groom

and the bride exchange rings as part of the engagement ceremony.

Mr. White : Will there be a feast on that day?

Mohan : Oh yes, there will be a grand feast at the bride’s house.

Mr. White : Is it vegetarian or non-vegetarian food that is served?

Mohan : Non-vegetarian but for the wedding it is invariably vegetarian.

Mr. White : How is the wedding conducted?

Mohan : You are going to see that today. But on the wedding eve there will be a party at the bridegroom’s house. Sometimes at the bride’s house, too.

Mr. White : Are the bride and bridegroom given presents?

Mohan : That is a practice going out of vogue. Some people don’t accept any presents. The guests are requested in advance not to bring any presents.

Mr. White : Will there be any music or dance?

Mohan : Rich people may provide such entertainment. On the wedding day a small group of ladies from the bridegroom’s house goes to the bride’s house with the wedding dress for her.

Mr. White : You mean the groom buys the dress for her.

Mohan : Yes, they carry the wedding dress with them. They dress her up in wedding clothes.

Mr. White : I’ve heard Indian women are very fond of gold ornaments.

Mohan : Quiet! The ornaments are provided by the girl’s parents according to their ability. So the girl is decked out in the finest clothes and with gold ornaments.

Mr. White : Gold nowadays is very expensive.

Mohan : Yes, but as much gold as possible is given to the girl. You can say it is a status symbol here. Now as about the wedding, you are going to witness it and I’ll try to give you a running commentary. The day after the wedding again there will be a reception at the bride’s house, mainly for the relatives to get to know one another. Now, if you are ready, let’s go.

How marriage takes place

How marriage takes place

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How marriage takes place

How marriage takes place

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