My almost three-year-old recently turned to me and said "I can't wait to get married!" I blinked a few times, trying to comprehend if I heard correctly or not. My husband nearly choked on whatever he was eating. We were both clearly flustered as to this sudden proclamation from our little baby girl. Where did she learn to say this from?
That night I racked my brain trying to think if any one of us had spoken about marriage recently. Suddenly things started to make sense. Up on my nani's (maternal grandmother) wall are three large portraits.
One of my mother's as a bride, one of my khala's (aunt) as a bride and one of me, all decked out in traditional bridal glory. On the table right near it there is a photograph of my husband and myself from our wedding. On each visit to my grandparent's place my daughter has made a ritual out of staring at these portraits. Each time it was explained to her that is so and so when they got married. Then she would look at our wedding photo and beam. So right there she saw glamorized versions of us in grandeur and big smiles and immediately knew she wanted to be a part of it. I was somewhat relieved at the innocent explanation, but it got me thinking.
When my daughter is actually ready to settle down, would I go the old school desi route and try to 'arrange' her marriage or encourage her to find her soul mate on her own? I am talking as if I have any say in the matter, because I have a sneaky suspicion my husband and I will simply be 'told' one day who she is marrying via the wedding invitation in the mail. I sincerely hope not!
My marriage was not arranged, that just played out on its own when I was least expecting it to, much to my parent's relief (they will not admit to this). I somehow managed to escape from any 'rishta' scenario. Which is that awfully contrived 'tea' situation where the potential boy and his family are invited over to 'check out' the potential girl, who is judged on her tea serving abilities, her modesty in dress, her grace in walk, her long mane of thick lustrous hair, her tall, youthful and of course fair skinned appearance. Sounds so Bollywood doesn't it? Unfortunately versions of that scenario are still happening even in this generation. I have nothing against the concept of arranged marriages truthfully, it's just the judgement and disparity of expectations involved depending on if you were from the boy or girl's side that really irks me.
In my mind the modern day version of the 'arrangement' is boy and girl meet each other based on the recommendation of family or friends, it could be in a somewhat chaperoned setting or on their own, depending on how open-minded the respective families are. Both parties are equally allowed a say in the matter. If I were a single girl these days I would much rather have my parents recommend prospective suitors to meet as I would trust their understanding of the kind of person I am versus random blind dates (online or otherwise).
Of course we all know this whole 'dating' game is far more complicated then I can put down here in one post. It is a dog eat dog world, and you have to fend for yourself with whatever suits you best.
I just hope the time doesn't come too soon for my daughter to say 'Mom, bring on the boys'. I too would much rather have her fall in love with her prince on her own (and feel comfortable to tell me about it from the start!) We can only hope and pray that by then we have armed her with all the tools she would need to make the right judgment call. In the meantime I'm going to cherish these years before she discovers boys!
NOTE: To all fathers' out there, you are the first man in your daughter's life so she will learn from you through your actions how men are supposed to treat women. Your sons will learn the same and aspire to be like you. So be the best man you can be.
What are your thoughts on arranged marriages? Have an interesting story to share? When the time comes, how would you broach this subject with your children?
This post was originally published on masalamommas.com and has been republished with permission.
By Sanober Bukhari
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