Traditionally, arranged marriages was the most common form of practice. In this form of marriage, families of the bride and groom would find the most suitable candidate for their son or daughter based on caste, family status and wealth. The couple was not permitted to see one another until the wedding day and had absolutely no say in this decision. This was the process of how many of our parents and grandparents were married. Although this form of marriage still exists in many parts of the world, such as India and the rest of Asia, it is not widely practiced here in Canada among South Asians.
Presently, modern-day arranged marriages and love marriages are becoming the norm in North America. Both forms of marriages have advantages and people now have the freedom of choosing the type of marriage that works best for their personality and lifestyle.
The practice of arranged marriage has undergone a significant transformation. With the help of families or friends, prospective couples are introduced to one another and have the freedom of dating and seeing if they connect with one another. At that point, they decide if they want to move the relationship forward. It is comparable to being set up on a blind date. If the couple feels it is a good match, they inform their parents, who then arrange the marriage. Many young, single individuals find this option easier as they have a more difficult time meeting someone that has similar values and beliefs or simply may just be too busy to date.
I spoke to Inderjit and Sapreena Dhaliwal, who have been married for almost 4 years and were introduced to one another by mutual family friends. Sapreena says prior to marriage she was always extremely busy and working full-time and felt she didn’t have time to date. “I didn’t know where to go or look. My family kept putting pressure on me to find someone but I just did not know how. So I told them to look on my behalf and I’ll go meet them.”
She said her values and beliefs were similar to that of her family and trusted they would find someone well suited for her. Inderjit added that he wanted to meet someone that his family approved of as well and did not want to waste time by meeting people, who were not ready to settle down. “When it is arranged by families, you know you are meeting someone that is looking to get married and settle down; it takes out all the guesswork of not knowing where the relationship is going.”
On the contrary, love marriages have become the most popular form of matrimony amongst Indo- Canadians living in North America. Media, Hollywood and Bollywood to certain extents have all played a huge role in this where meeting ‘Prince Charming’ or ‘Princess Beautiful’ on your own is a fantasy dream that is romanticized over and over. More importantly, these relationships build on their own and are directly attributable to the persons involved. Sparks may fly and then again may not at first, but it is always comforting to individuals, who find their own life partners, that they can explain to others of where, when, why and how they fell in love when they did.
People can meet one another in different environments such as school, work, social settings and even online. Online dating has been a huge success as of late providing a great new opportunity for people to meet, chat and get to know one another prior to even seeing each other in person. Websites such as South Asian Millionaires Club (southasianmillionairesclub.com) and Shaadi.com are popular networking sites for single people to meet and also cater to the South Asian population.
I spoke to Munpritt and Bobby Pooni, who fell in love and have been married for two and half years. She met her husband at a social event and said the meeting was completely unplanned and happened when they least expected it. They informed me that they were together at a birthday party with a group of mutual friends and started talking and eventually exchanged numbers. They remained in contact; really hit it off and shortly after they were married.
When asked why she opted for love marriage and not arranged, she explained “I wanted the freedom of choosing my own partner and not be pressured by my parents to marry someone that met their standards but not mine.” Bobby added that he liked the fact that things were able to happen on their own and they were able to let things flow without feeling like they had to marry right away. “When you are introduced by family members, there is an expectation that a decision needs to be made right away even if you do not know the person that well. This way, we were able to get to know one another and we made a decision to get married when the time was right for the both of us.”
Both couples informed me that they are extremely happy in their marriages and would not change a thing if they had a choice to. This shows that the institution of marriage has completely changed from how it used to be. Couples now have more freedom than ever to choose the type of marriage they want and more importantly, the partner they want to spend the rest of their lives with. Regardless if it is a love or an arranged marriage, it is important to realize that there is no right way to marry someone. It is important to stay true to what you feel is best for you and your partner.