Arranged marriages, really India?

Name: Sonam Chamaria
Height: 5’2″
Complexion: Dusky
Native place: Lakshmangarh, Rajasthan
Educational qualifications: MSc in Finance & Economics (Warwick Business School, UK)
B.A. Economics Hons (SRCC, Delhi)

Does that look good enough for you, no?
For those of you who don’t know, this is how my biodata would look, if I ever got one made for the purpose of arranged marriage.

Biodata? What’s that?

Well, it’s this A4 sheet of paper with a maximum of 2 sides in which you fit your entire life (not to mention your family business, your uncles, details of your siblings, your home address blah blah). The purpose? It is sent to friends of family and other random people who then use it to screen your “candidature” as a life partner for their son/daughter.


Now, I have a very simple question –
How am I supposed to condense my entire life and personality on one side of an A4 paper? How can this one sheet of paper (not to mention the highly edited picture that is clipped to it) do justice to all I’ve achieved in my life? Is my height, complexion and time of birth all that someone needs to know to reject/accept me as a match? Is this all there is to my life? Is this the kind of one-dimensional personality we want to project to others?

What baffles me is that while we are unable to fit our work experience in a one page resume, for a job we can always switch; we are expected to fit our entire lives in one page, for a marriage that lasts a lifetime. Why?

1efdd1b8d1Photo credit:

And the thing that frustrates me the most? The fact that a most people will reject a perfectly good match simply because the kundalis (an ancient Indian astrological practice of checking compatibility between two people) didn’t match. And no, don’t even get me started on the complexion bit.

And if I do get past the initial screening bit and the kundali matching, I get a few phone calls and a maximum of 3 (if I am extremely lucky) meetings to impress the guy and to decide if he’s “right” for me. And if it all goes fine, well then, we get engaged. All of this, amidst a lot of family pressure.

Forced will

I believe that if you don’t find someone in real life, but connect well on a matrimonial site, by all means, you should go for it. But it’s the “forced arranged marriage” system that irks me. The part where parents force a certain match on you, simply because time is running out. Or because the “stars” are aligned. That’s a whole lot of tosh we need to get rid of. And the fact that in a setup like this, most of us never come clean about our pasts, does not help at all. At the end of the day, it’s all a game of projecting the best image of yourself until you find someone else who’s image you like, and vice versa. The real picture? Well, you only get to see it after the wedding.

And yet, as a society, we proudly proclaim ourselves to be progressive.
No, we are not progressive, until we do away with criterion like complexion in our profiles. No, we are not progressive until we do away with kundali matching.  And no, we are not progressive, until we let our kids choose their partners for themselves.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against people who go for arranged marriages. My parents did, and they are happy. I just don’t see myself going for it. The whole idea of judging a person in a couple of meetings and gambling my life away on a hunch does not appeal to me. I just think there’s so much more to my personality than what I can show in the initial 2 meetings.
And as for time running out? That’s nobody else’s business but mine.

Note: I am very thankful to my parents – they have never forced arranged marriage (or marriage for that matter) on any of us, nor pressured us to get married by a certain age. I could not be more grateful for being born in a progressive Marwari (yes, I don’t believe it either) family like mine. 

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