It’s funny how certain wedding traditions we perceive to be ancient history, pop up from time to time, reminding us that there is a world out there beyond engagement rings and bridal trunk shows. A good friend of mine who grew up and currently lives in New Delhi, India, just announced that he is engaged. Of course to myself and the rest of his friends living in the US, this came as a total surprise. It was the first we had heard of the girl – as if he had gone from single to engaged overnight.
So I had to ask – why would a present-day Indian, educated in the US and by anyone’s standards – of very modern affluence, go the traditional route of letting someone else choose his wife? Feeling like my American lenses had grown a little too foggy, I decided to look further into this centuries-old institution to find out just how ignorant I really was.
Although prevalent in India and certain (unmentioned) compounds in Texas and Utah, arranged marriages are still practiced in nearly every country of the world. Ever heard of a mail-order Bridezilla? Some cultures match a couple based on astrology, numerology or by comparing the palm impressions of the bride and groom to look for compatibility. Wow, if horoscopes worked that well for me, that new moon sitting over Gemini right now should be delivering me a cash cow in exactly 3 days. Woohoo!
All joking aside, the primary reason for arranged marriages today is tradition and the notion that marriage is sacred and therefore must be carefully planned. Divorce has become more tolerated throughout the world but to many, an arranged marriage is a means of divorce prevention. A client I was discussing this with made reference to the dowry but even a dowry of sorts exists in your average “love-marriage” today. What do you call a typical $30,000 wedding?
I wish my friend all the best in his new “plunge” as he calls it. Arranged marriages of course do not always work and can cause a lot of pain but I appreciated the chance to talk about it without the negativity it usually receives. Perhaps even the Americans should take a lesson and utilize it as a political tool for the greater good. Hey Bush – you’ve still got one available daughter…. isn’t there an Iraqi prince out there? KIDDING!!
So what does a groom give to his bride upon meeting for the first time? A is a fun way for her to flaunt her “taken” status. And for him? This breaks the ice and he’ll think his new lady is super cool!