We Indians love everything large when it comes to a wedding – lavish garments and jewellery, pompous ceremonies, songs, dances, rituals and feasts. There is even a television programme called ‘The Big Fat Indian Wedding’ which celebrates this trend in India.
In this culturally rich land of rituals and taboos, how does one actually go about tying the knot? I mean, what is the process preceding the actual ceremony (You can read about what happens after the wedding here).
There are several ways to do this –
- Traditional method – “Broker”: When a girl or boy reaches the ‘age of marriage’ (which generally may be 18+ for girls and 25+ for guys, all depending on what the family may think), a certain class of people – popularly nicknamed ‘Brokers’ – start frequenting the houses. These brokers’ generally have a tattered old diary being hugged by their under-arms, which has the latest scoops (a.k.a the “resumes” of the girls and boys in other houses where they have visited, along with their photographs). The broker tries to entice the family by showing pictures of several ‘prospectives’, whose task it is to then tell their progeny about these prospectives. What happens next is different for the boy and the girl.
- Boy – Parents cajole the boy into coming home to “look” at girls (the only time the family supports the boy in ogling girls) since usually the boys work anywhere other than their hometown. Once the boy is in, he is primped up and the broker schedules appointments at several girls’ homes. Sometimes, a boy goes to ‘ogle’ up to 15 girls a day. Once the boy has picked his choice, then the families iron out the details. [Oops, forgot to mention that there is a jaatak matching that occurs prior to any of this, if you are a Hindu. Any ‘ogling’ occurs only after the boy and the girl’s jaataks match.]
- Girl – The moment parents find that some guy is coming to ‘see’ the girl, she is made to wear a saree (even if she hates the damn thing) so that her ‘structure’ can be shown off to the boy and his family (weird, isn’t it?). Nowadays the guy and girl get a few minutes to talk to each other. Then they are expected to say whether they like each other or not. Imagine, the girl is expected to decide on her LIFE partner in a few minutes’ discussion.
And once the marriage is fixed through a broker, he/she gets a commission from the bride and the groom;s families – generally 1% from the bride and 3% from the groom’s family. Now you might ask – percentage of what? Yep, you guessed it – a percentage of the dowry of the bride.
- Through proposals brought in by ‘well-meaning’ relatives – The general events surrounding a proposal brought in by a relative remains the same. Except for the absence of a commission for bringing the proposal. Often, there are several relatives vying for the relished role of the ‘broker’ – depending on the financial status of the boy/girl’s family, educational qualifications or the general appearance of the boy/girl. And they usually bring in the proposals from their own circle of friends/relatives where the ‘pseudo-broker’ stands to gain some advantage.
- Modern method – Matrimony websites: This method is gaining a great deal of popularity, as evidenced by the number of matrimonial websites that have sprung up in the recent years. These sites let people register their sons, daughters, nephews, nieces, friends or even themselves with a profile consisting of their vital stats and a photograph. Then, the site matches them up with other registrants who match their criteria of religion, education and jobs. Members can respond with emails and exchange details. Premium members (i.e., members who have paid for the site’s services) have more privileges like getting to chat with the other members, have dates fixed through the site and so on.
- Highly frowned upon method – “Falling in love”: Frowned upon by parents of the concerned persons, and preferred by the groom and bride. This can again be sub-divided into several categories of “love” –
- Pure Love Marriage – The most controversial of the lot. As the name suggests, the marriage is based only on mutual attraction of the individuals concerned, with no love lost between their families (in most 99% of the cases).
- Arranged Love Marriage – Most youngsters’ preferred method of getting married. They get to choose their own partners by choosing someone from their own community and financial status. Often, the person finds his/her partner from their own workplace. And since all the groundwork has already been laid by the youngsters themselves, their parents readily fall in with the wedding plans.
If you are already married, which of these categories did your marriage fall into?
Or if you are contemplating marriage, which of these would you prefer?
Are there any more ways of getting married? Do write in and let me know.
*jaatak – the time of birth and the star sign under which you were born, based on which the astrologer creates a chart of events for your life – with the good, the bad and the ugly in it.