My daughter is in her 20s, so I felt it was time for her to find a ‘nice’ guy and settle down in matrimony. But she said she was not interested just yet as she did not see any shining examples of marital bliss around her to feel tempted enough to take the plunge. And as far she was concerned, she said it was a plunge into murky waters. Apparently, she is one among the growing number of girls in the current Indian scenario, who were unwilling to tie themselves down because they have not had a fill of their single status.
Marriage in the Indian culture is usually arranged, with girls marrying for financial security. It is said to be a sacred institution because two people married, believing that their match were made in heaven and that their karma were interwoven since many past lives. Their parents would find a suitable spouse after meticulously researching into the respective backgrounds to ensure suitability in family and financial status, among other things. However, if you delve into past world history, you will find several examples of arranged marriages between English royalty during the Victorian era, where it was customary for kings and queens to have arranged marriages.
Whereas, in ancient India, the girls were free to choose their husband through a “swayamvara”(choose one’s husband), conducted by their father. Eligible suitors from distant lands were invited to the ceremony and the daughter would garland the guy of her choice after careful evaluation of his credentials or after he had emerged victorious in his test of skills. But over the years, the prevalent caste system destroyed the freedom to choose spouses because the higher caste did not want their children to marry anyone outside their caste. Consequently, the practice took firm root in this country.
But the British invasion in India saw the beginning of a change in the mindset of the Indian people about marriages. The seeds of love marriages were sown and people’s perception about it expanded
and flourished. But the change was seen only in urban India while rural India remained unchanged and unaware of outside influences. With the advent of liberalization of world market, satellite television and advanced media communications, the old social fiber of this country began to wear off at the seams. There was no social pressure to marry someone the parents chose and the onus of choosing the partner fell on the person involved.
Nevertheless, there is a section of the population here, who believe that arranged marriages have a longer shelf life than love marriages, given the fact that the divorce rate in the West is high despite the fact that the people there have love marriages. In an arranged match, the couple takes pains to understand each other, having decided to spend the rest of their lives together. On the other hand, in a love marriage, the couple at first is careful to show their best side to each other, in order to impress at all times, concealing their dark side and discovering it only after they marriage. It is believed that sometimes, a lifetime is not enough to know a person and that marriage is a journey where the couple is constantly discovering each other, although the journey stops the day they find nothing new to discover.
Marriage no longer holds the sanctity that it did decades ago. Girls in India are showing feminist tendencies, more interested in studying further, pursuing careers, enjoying their economic freedom and pushing to marry only after they are in their later 20s. However, ironically, the average age of a man in India, who is inclined to marry has changed from the early 30s to the late 20s. It would seem as if girls were being inflexible in their search for the right guy and unwilling to settle for anything less than the ‘perfect guy’, knowing well that such a guy is illusory. When she finally zeroes in on a guy, she gets married to him, realizing soon after that he was not the one she was looking for and parting ways over some trivial issue. They are unwilling to adapt, adjust or compromise because they are financially independent, not needing a man to look after them and unwilling to face any attempts at reconciliation. Whereas, men are unable to step past their 'male ego' and old fashioned beliefs, expecting women to toe the line and feeling betrayed when they don't.
The growing change in family structures and norms, have made the younger generation wary and sceptical of the marriage institution, as the old adage of “marry in haste and repent at leisure” has switched to “marry in leisure but repent in haste” .