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Arranged Marriages: No, they are NOT made in heaven

My aunt always told me that I must conceal my dark complexion, apply a better shade of lipstick, and tie my hair in a better way. I should wear traditional dress and the dress should make me look a bit tall and slim. I needed to look the best. The boy and his family would judge me on that. Do you have time to listen to my story?

Surbhi Kumari Surbhi Kumari @@surujournalist
New Delhi Updated on: March 07, 2019 16:45 IST
Representative Image

Representative Image

My aunt always told me that I must conceal my dark complexion, apply a better shade of lipstick, and tie my hair in a better way. I should wear traditional dress and the dress should make me look a bit tall and slim. I needed to look the best. The boy and his family would judge me on that.  Do you have time to listen to my story?

 
If anyone says marriages are made in heaven, it's absolutely wrong. Arrange marriages are made by desirable complexion, good figure/physique and the most mandatory -- pay packages. There are price tags set for each profession. Grooms assets also become a weighing factor.
 
Arranged marriages in India are a peculiar and complicated process. People look for a ‘soulmate’ to happily spend their life with, but they also have a certain set of expectations from the prospective bride or groom. Whether it is six-figure monthly salary or the skin complexion, arranged marriage proposal are rejected for weird reasons.
 
The whole premise of arranged marriages is based on the assumption that your parents or any elder of the house are more capable of choosing a partner for you. The concept of arranged marriage leaves little for the person who is getting married. Necessity outperforms choice. It’s constantly said that an arranged marriage isn’t a relationship between two people, but a tie between two families.
 
Here in India, there is a widely popular belief that arranged marriages work or lasts longer than ‘love marriages.’ In arrange marriages women are told it’s their ‘job’ to keep their husbands happy and to do everything for them from cooking to washing. The whole concept of arranged marriages also puts the onus of making sacrifices, compromises, and making the marriage work, on women.
How does it feel to be screened for marriage? It’s really disgusting and the process is full of humiliation at the hands of suitors, and your own parents too.

I am writing this in anger.
I am writing this in grief.
I am writing this in frustration and I am writing this with disappointment too!
I am writing this to tell you, boys, that how lucky you are that you are born a boy, not a girl.
 
A middle-class Indian family – an educated, cultured family leaves no stone unturned when it comes to educating their children, be it a girl or a boy. But the difference begins when you are educated and able to make choices. There comes a point when the same parents remind you that you are a girl.
 
It was someday in December 2018 when I looked at myself again and again in the mirror. My aunt was constantly pointing out that I must conceal my dark complexion, apply a better shade of lipstick, and tie my hair in a better way. I should wear traditional dress and the dress should make me look a bit tall and slim. I needed to look the best. The boy and his family will soon arrive to meet me.
 
My mother always worried for me to spend some time with her so I that I could get a pre-marriage training, which I seemed to have been deprived of, having lived alone for the last ten years.
 
So, there I was. The moment of truth came. The boy’s family had arrived.
His family was welcomed by my family. The question and answer round started. The boy's mother concern was primarily about my cooking and was repeatedly asked about changing my job location to the place where the boy worked.
 
My mother vehemently started defining my qualities and how, unlike other girls raised in the hostel, I have somehow learnt to cook as well. I was sitting with my head down, just like a porcelain doll, being examined by these people who have agreed that I can be their daughter-in-law only if I meet certain criteria. The main criteria were the fees (dowry) which both sets of parents have mutually agreed upon.
 
My parents had given me the best education, freedom, and support every time I required. But in this Marriage Market, they forgot that their daughter is not a commodity. They need not pay these people for my marriage. But the truth is ugly. The reality, cruder. They console me by saying this is how arranged marriage works. And believe me, I hate that thinking.

All these above-mentioned things haunt me and make me feel so distressed and helpless in life. It seems as if being born a girl child is like a sin or I can say its completely a sin. I agree that life is not as easy as it seems to be but it becomes more difficult when you are a girl. I agree that each and every individual undergoes different phases of life, but a girl has to face a lot of difficulties when she enters a new phase of life.
 
Each and every time she has to prove herself and has to make herself so versed and conditioned to fit in that phase of life. She has to fulfil each and everyone's expectation and has to pretend to be happy even if she is not. No person wants to get dominated but girls are always dominated and expected to be quite good even after that.
 
Most importantly, the role and status of women in the sphere of arranged marriages need to change and the change needs to come soon and must be monumental in order for women to be treated fairly and not as objects or subordinates to their husbands.

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