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Tuesday, September 07, 2004

holy matrimony

As children grow up, the Indian families start worrying about how to get them married off. Especially, for the girl child who is invariably considered a burden and a serious liability if not married off in time. In bygone days, when the joint family system was in vogue, the responsibility was shouldered by the grand parents or the aunts and uncles. Their decision was binding on the child and parents alike. They elected suitable matches from among eligible candidates from known families and such marriages usually lasted a lifetime. However, with the gradual disintegration of the joint family system, even though some popular Hindi TV serials would have you believe that such families do exist even today, other players emerged on the scene. The matchmakers (or ghataks, in Bengali) and the dotcoms and interactive internet sites. But, what is the real picture like?

A cursory glance through the matrimonial ads in the Sunday edition of a popular Bengali newspaper indicates that girls marry late. 25 to 30 years is passé, some wait even up to 35 to get settled in life. 90% of them are computer literate and are in possession of innumerable qualifications so that there is no dearth of matches! Many of them are single child of their parents and, this may be shocking to some, quite a few of them are divorcees!! The ads do not hide such facts but mention ‘married for 15 days only’, ‘mutually divorced within a few days’, ‘divorced due to impotent groom’ etc.. Once upon a time, brides were expected to be fluent in the fine arts like music, painting, embroidery – today’s scenario does not entertain such thinking. Ads openly invite alliances for the boy to stay on with his in-laws!!

The complete outlook has undergone a sea change.

Whilst the parents search the papers to locate a suitable match, the boys and girls themselves scout the matrimonial sites on the net and, more often than not, link up with like minded individuals. How long these alliances will last is a question that can be answered by time only.



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