Marriage is a journey of discovering yourself and exploring your better half. Two souls come together to create a world of their own. A world which is supposed to be rosy and beautiful but for some people the journey to start the “journey of life” is a gigantic struggle by itself!!!
Parents and their never ending worries!
It’s amazing how we Indians have made different forms of marriage, like arranged, love and more recently we hear of love cum arranged marriage. According to a recent survey by UNICEF, around 53% of the marriages in the world are arranged and if you take into account this ratio for India alone, the percentage is way higher. Strangely, but the fact is, 88% of the marriages in India are arranged. Indian parents feel that it’s their birth right to choose a life partner of their choice for their children. Giving birth to a child makes them think that they know what’s right for their “kids”!!! There’s nothing wrong in helping your kids make correct choices in life but the choice of life partner is something which should not be forced upon anyone. Though all this is changing gradually as parents these days are also getting progressive in their thinking but we still have a long way to go where parents come to terms with the fact that their kids are capable of choosing ‘right one’ for themselves.
Everywhere else in the world parents have a little or, should I say, no role in choosing the life partners for their kids. As soon as the children grow up, not only do they move out of their parents house but also become friends with their parents. Parents, on the other hand, give space to their children and let them make choices not just for their career but also for life partners. And in India parents still feel that their children are their prized possession!!! They want to have a say in everything, be it the subjects they should study, the extra-curricular activities they should participate in, the friends they should hang out with, the profession they should opt for and most importantly the person they should spend their lives with!!!
So once the children enter the ‘marriageable’ age, sole purpose of parent’s lives is to see them settle down and start their life. Even though they trick you into believing that once they see you married, all their worries will come to an end, but that’s the biggest lie you will ever hear from them. Trust me, it doesn’t stop at that, once you get married they will tell you to have kids, buy a house, save for future etc etc., there’s no end to it. It’s a vicious circle actually!!!
Marriages – the biggest entrepreneurial idea since mankind!
We have made a big deal of marriage, literally. It’s supposed to be the bond of love which should be smooth, seamless and effortless. It is said ‘marriages are made in heaven and celebrated on earth’. Our parents have taken this age-old adage quite seriously. It has become no less than a competition. Not just your immediate family starts looking out for you when you attain the so called marriageable age, all the aunties, uncles, family friends, well-wishers take it on themselves to help you conquer the battle of finding the right one for you.
When all the known sources for finding the spouse for you have been exhausted, parents start looking outside their network to find a perfect life partner for you. Marriage bureaus, matrimonial websites, newspaper ads become their last resort. Marriage bureaus and matrimonial sites have cracked a perpetual business idea, as long as the world exists, people will get married and they will keep making money by playing with the emotions of people.
Changing face of Marriage Bureaus – How does it work now?
In earlier times, few well connected aunties used to run this business at times out of hobby or for noble causes of helping society. The marriage bureaus also have got a face lift with changing times. They have also become professional over the years; match-making has become a lucrative business. Initially marriage bureaus used to ask for Kundali but now they too have a checklist of requirements to enroll with them and avail their services. They offer variety of services and have different packages, depending on your paying capacity you can choose the package suited to your requirements. So the innocent parents who really want to see their children settled, register with these matrimonial websites or marriage bureaus hoping to find the best and most perfect life partner for their children.
Once you register with these marriage bureaus or matrimonial website then they will push you to get the most expensive package they have by promising you 100% guarantee of results because according to them the fees of the package is directly proportional to the surety of results. The higher the package fees, the higher is the probability of finding the ‘soul-mate’. The matrimonial sites go few steps ahead in this business quest, once you just casually browse their website, their call centre executives start calling you endlessly to convince you to take their membership. Once you fall prey to their cajoling initially for few days you do get few references from them but soon after the frequency reduces and then the reverse chase starts, you start following up with them for the new references. That is when these marriage bureau executives will tell you to upgrade your membership to get more visibility and references.
My father had created my matrimonial profile on all possible matrimonial websites. The moment he used to get to know of any such website, he used to create my profile. For some of the websites, he even took paid membership. If you are a free member all you can do is browse around but neither can you contact nor do you get to know the names of the potential candidates. Its like showing a candy to a kid and then telling him that if he wants it he needs to finish homework. So this way they entice you to take membership.
Pandit-Ji/Society – The First Entrepreneur
When the parents don’t find worthwhile matches for their kids after trying every alternative available, they start getting panicked and they reach out to Pandit-Jis who take advantage of our already scared and vulnerable parents. They come up with ways you can find a life partner. They tell your parents to do some poojas, some vidhis and ask you to keep fasts, wear certain colors clothes on certain days, go to temple etc etc. These pundits give our innocent parents assurance that soon after doing what they have asked us to, we will find a life partner.
Even when this so-called 100% guaranteed ram-baan ilaaj fails, our parents start seeking advices from every possible person who offers to provide solutions to our parents ever increasing worries. Now this is the time, enters our ‘know-it-all’ aunty-uncles who either know all the ‘totkas’ (sorcerous acts) or someone they know have done this ‘totkas’ and have managed to find a life partner. So they tell our parents various ways by which we can find a life partner. Some of the totka’s are really weird. Once my friend was told to feed a cow every Tuesdays. I was told to wear yellow color every Thursday or at least carry a yellow color cloth along with me every Thursday. We innocently do everything to make sure we get a life partner and put an end to our parents worries.
The Bride-Groom Conundrum
While all this is happening the frustration of the person who is looking to find the ‘right’ life partner keeps on increasing when none of the so called sure shot success ideas don’t work out and lead to the person often choosing the ‘wrong’ ones as all that person really wants is to put an end to the mad circus and get back to his/her normal routine life and live peacefully. The person has mentally reached a stage where it is no longer about finding your soulmate, it’s more about just ending the chase. In that mind frame one often tends to make grave mistakes, choosing a life partner which is supposed to be the most important decision of our lives, becomes the biggest mistake of our lives.
We should not be choosing someone because we are supposed to choose someone, we should be choosing someone because we really want to be with that person spend our lives with that person. It’s not a matter of few hours or days that such a mistake can be reverted quickly without much damage, it’s a matter of our lives, a decision which will invariably stay with us forever (I am not saying that one can’t rectify a mistake but this mistake definitely costs a lot mentally). Hence choosing carefully and with a right mindset is very imperative.
As we say life is short and is a culmination of our decisions, good or bad, right or wrong. And one bad or wrong decision can change your entire life. Our parents need to realize its not a race of finding a life partner for their kids, it’s about helping them create a beautiful lives for themselves. They need to stop worrying about all the worldly stuff people tell them like their children’s age is catching up, biological clock is ticking blah blah. Well it’s all about finding a right life partner and not getting married at the so called right age. It’s more important to be with the person you want to be with than being with someone at least. The urge to get married should come from within when you see or meet someone as life is really beautiful on the other side if you have a wonderful partner to share it with.