Arts & Culture

Holy Matrimony! Conditions Apply

Ever since matrimonials went online, the matchmaking process has taken on a whole new dimension. A look at what it’s like for a man who has, rather unwillingly, been dragged into the spouse search process.

In a country in which there are only 940 women for every 1,000 men, the odds, statistically speaking, are against the men folk. As a man and having been witness to many failed relationships and marriages, I admit that quality among my kind can vary.

I am a single male in his 20s, working in Chennai, but hailing from God’s own country, Kerala. Like inhabitants of any Indian state, people in Kerala take to weddings with passion. Unfortunately, Kerala also arguably has the distinction of being one of the most materialistically driven states in the country. (Look at all those jewelry ads and the numerous chains of jewelry stores originating from the state.)

What has prompted me to think about gender ratios and weddings? Well, I have had my profile listed in a few matrimonial sites, and there are quite a few things I can say based on my personal experience with the sites and the process.

  • While matrimonial sites list many physical attributes so that comparative matches can be drawn, how is it that a large number of profiles do not feature pictures? It makes the profiles seem more like the bio datas you would find at job portals.
  • I have noticed that many women do not create their own profiles; it is often a parent or sibling who creates a profile for a single woman. I find it disturbing when the woman in question doesn’t seem to have a direct say in the matter. I would go so far as to say that if women in India feel restricted or even imprisoned by their families, it is because they allow themselves to be.
  • Also, what does it say when a woman earns less than five lakh rupees a year but looks for a man who earns no less than four times that amount? Seeking marriage or economic opportunity? Well, there are two examples from my own life that I can freely cite. I was once approached by a girl’s family after they met me at a wedding. But I was disqualified because they felt we were a mismatch financially. Another refusal was because I am not an MBA graduate but a journalist – the prospect’s father was looking for a groom who could do business. In both cases, the girl did not try approaching me or make any attempt to get to know me better.
  • I can also cite umpteen examples of men (many of whom studied with me in college) who were turned down by prospective brides’ families because the men’s perceived socio-economic standing was not high enough. You would think we are talking not of marriage but of mergers and acquisitions. How can men and women of my generation not feel that they are being treated as commodities or tradable assets by the old guard?
  • What irks me the most, though, is the sectarian nature of partner preferences. A certain sect of Christian, for instance, will marry into their specific sect and not someone of another sect/sub-sect. Why not?!  This narrow-minded approach makes marriage seem not like the coming together of two individuals, but like a family expansion project influenced by societal lobbying.

It is understandable that parents may be concerned about their daughters’ financial well being. These may be uncertain economic times. Still, the best one can do is to educate one’s offspring to survive and become responsible in managing an economy of their own.

And just as the success of a business merger depends on the culture compatibility of the two entities, the same goes with marriages. Culture here does not have to be one’s caste, creed, or religion. Can two individuals actually marry on the basis of just their economic status or their sectarian backgrounds and expect to have successful marriages? Wouldn’t you rather have two individuals who are able to think more or less on the same lines and complement each other?

 

To be continued…

 

Image courtesy of Deepatheawesome via Creative Commons.

 

Editor’s note:

Visiting prospective brides can be hilarious at times. Read: Arranged Marriage Horror Stories: Rejected Grooms.

 

 

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