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Marriage marriages are not a new thing in Indian society. It has been practiced for centuries but the instances of love marriage in India are still low. In the last several decades the Indian society has undergone tremendous change - the social fabric of society has become more flexible and girls are treated equal to boys. As a result, interaction between the opposite sex has increased considerably and this has contributed to the increased percentage of love marriages in the country. However, the phenomena remains restricted to urban and semi-urban areas. Though love marriages still do not enjoy the same respect and position in the society as arranged marriages, parents are becoming thoughtful of their children's feelings. The biggest reason for opposing a love marriage is caste or religion difference. This is because people are skeptical in marrying their kids in an alien cultural setting. In addition, there are other issues like economic standard, horoscope compatibility, that also hinder the process of love marriage.
In ancient India, women were attributed a much higher status than they have in today’s society. They were not confined to the boundaries of the home and were allowed much more freedom in terms of life choices. They had enormous amount of say when it came to choosing their life partners and love marriages were quite common. Concepts like ‘Swayamvars’ were based on the consent of women and men proving their mettle as the best suitor. Love marriages were quite common at the time and were welcomed by the society. Even the religious scriptures and literatures of the time tell tales of Gods and Goddesses falling in love and getting married.
With the advent and adoption of tenets like Manu Smriti, the concepts of good and bad changed in the society.It was advocated that words of the family head was supreme it was good karma to obey the elders. With that, the women were designated as symbols of honor of a family and were placed under the protection of men, curbing much of the freedom they used to enjoy in Vedic era. The caste system started being vigorously enforced and it became imperative that marriage matches happen within the set restrictions imposed by the religion and society. As a result, an arranged marriage became the norm where the elders employed the services of matchmakers who would look for suitable matches from faraway places.Gradually, the concept of love marriage lost popularity and became an undesired custom in the framework of the societal norms. Customs like child marriages, dowry and honor killings came into existence to enforce the preference of arranged marriage and discourage any intentions of love marriages from people’s minds.
India is a country where values and traditions are held above personal aspirations and happiness. Family’s honor, pride and social status is given more important that the happiness of the members of the family. Arranged marriages are the norm in this country where parents decide appropriate life partner for their children. A number of criteria are imposed to determine the suitability of these matches based on cultural backgrounds, social status, income, physical appearance and sometimes amount of dowry. Young people choosing their own life partners attracted a lot of social stigma for them as well as their families. It was seen as the ultimate act of defiance that a son or daughter can exhibit. That frame of mind still prevails in certain parts of the country but on the whole the scenario has changed quite a bit. In urban and semi-urban areas especially, women have become much more independent with most of them receiving higher education and opting to have a career. As a result they have much more opportunities to interact with people from outside their communities. Such interactions in many cases lead to amorous relationships which in turn lead to love marriages. With such incidences being quite frequent in recent times, the concept of love marriage has become quite commonplace in urban and semi-urban areas at least. In rural and remote areas, the scene is still pretty traditional, partially due to lack of education and awareness. But the scenario is changing pretty fast there as well. While arranged marriages still remain the prevalent way of getting married by the youth in India, love marriages are now free of the evil and accusatory outlook they earlier received, being more and more acceptable to people.
Advantages of Love Marriage
The basic concept of love marriage lies in the fact that the boy or girl choses his or her life partner. There are no elderly supervision involved, although in India the approval of elders are sought before the boy and girl in love can tie the knot. The restrictions of caste, social status, physical appearance and even religion do not apply when a person falls in love and hence such clauses are not part of the marriage discussions. In India where these restrictions are seriously enforced when it comes to arranged marriage, severely limit the number of desirable matches for a person. As a result they may as well has to settle for less in some or the other aspects. There is no requirement of contemplating dowry as one does not need to prove their worth through the amount of cash and jewelry to be exchanged. In case of love marriages, one might not compare such points and consider the overall compatibilities in terms of lifestyle, interests and hobbies. As a result, the chances are very high that the partners will have great compatibility and similar tastes in leisure activities. That may not be the case in case of arranged marriages where the two relatively unknown partners may possess starkly different tastes in life philosophies. In case of couples going for love marriage, they have ample chances to explore their compatibilities and discuss their life philosophies in depth. They also may be able to discuss their dreams and aspirations for future and have a chance to shape their career in a way that suits both partners well. People contemplating love marriages have ample opportunities to discuss about their preferred lifestyle including place to settle down, kids, and even holidays. It is imperative that the responsibilities of the future are to be equally distributed among the two partners. As time is progressing more and more gender roles are being reversed in the country, especially in love matches. The men are willing to shoulder the household responsibilities while women are becoming career-oriented and principle bread-winner of the family.
It presents to one an opportunity to build one’s life together with their partner. Love is the basis for the partners to come together in the relationship and with love comes mutual respect and commitment. These are pre-existing factors in a love marriage and the couple does not have to feel compelled to produce these emotions overnight. There is the comfort of familiarity in a love marriage. The boy and the girl, they generally are acquainted with each other for a considerable period of time, often studying or working together and if not moving in the same circle. They are aware of each other backgrounds, places of residence, families. In some cases even the families become well acquainted with each other over the time. These interactions and familiarities ease the transition that the couple has to make after marriage, making it easier for them to adapt with situations. There remains a pre-existing comfort-level and trust, that makes one adjust to the changing situation voluntarily with much enthusiasm and not compulsorily. The couple knows each other’s likes and dislikes from before marriage and this help in better setting up of a happy household.
Disadvantages of Love Marriage
One of the major disadvantages of love marriages in India is that lack of social ‘insurance’. Even at this time, parents often do not condone their kids choosing a life partner for themselves. Sometimes objections arise from the fact that the religion and castes or social standings or even physical appearance. Sometimes they are wary of the repercussion of the society and relative bandwagon. So, they sometimes refuse give their consent to the whole affair and separate themselves from the couple. As a result the boy or girl is on one’s own and if they experience hardships along the way, there are no family cushions to fall back on. Sometimes, this distancing from parents and family affect the relationship between the partners, as they may blame the partners for being the cause of losing the family. In another scenario, there emerges a basic adjustment differences between the newlywed girl and in-laws, which may be a result of their disapproval and judgment against their cultural differences combined. Another major disadvantage of love marriages is the high level of expectations and presumptions.
As the couple are more acquainted with each other and have probably discussed every possible scenario for their combined future before getting married, they have a very set picture of how their married life is going to be like. Any deviation from that expected scenario leads to disappointment and which in turn breeds frustration. Love marriages are probably ill-adjusted to adapt to the curve balls that life usually throws just for the reason that there is higher level of expectation. There may be subtle differences in the couple’s individual preferences that stems from their religious and cultural upbringing. These small differences come into focus when the two individual start living together after marriage. While some of these may be sorted out quite easily through minor adjustments, sometimes these small issues collate together and transform into big issues that might affect the stability of the union. Although the relation begins on the basis of love, there is no guarantee in place that the mutual feeling of love will remain forever. The one or both the partners may become tired and jaded from the marriage, sometimes due to constant conflicts or sometimes just because of the length of time and change circumstances. They may decide to part ways and their families might not be willing to mediate reconciliation.
Love Vs. Arranged Marriage!
The question that arises in every Indian youth’s mind is whether to love and marry or prefer to marry and then fall in love? If one decides to go for the love marriage route and is hell bent on finding ‘the One’ in order to live happily ever after, they need to consider the fact that love marriages require equal amount of work put into it for it to be happy and peaceful. Just because love is pre-existing, does not mean that it will continue to be so for eternity. One needs to nurture the love and work on doubling and tripling it for those married moments when it becomes especially difficult to love your partner! While arranged marriages come with greater security with greater involvement of parents, there remains the question of accepting a bunch of almost-stranger as your family for the rest of your life. Also the amount of judgment that the girl or boy has to go through, scrutiny of physical appearance in case of girls and financial status in case of the boys, is a huge deterrent from certain educated people nowadays. Unlike in love marriages, gender-biased roles for both men are women are much more strongly enforced in arranged marriages. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, yet one thing is for sure, the decision of marriage, be it arranged or love, should be taken with careful consideration and much deliberation.
Present scenario in India has evolved a lot as compared to the scenario even ten years ago. Love marriages are accepted with much more openness nowadays throughout the country in all prevalent cultures. Although the huge difference in divorce rates in India with other developed nations like the USA are being attributed to the glory of arranged marriages, it has more to do with the country’s social structure and not with the preferred mode of marriage. Marriages in the country nowadays have adopted this hybrid model called semi arranged marriage, where the boy or girl meet with the candidates preferred by their parents and if they provide their consent to the match they are allowed to date like a couple in love for a designated period of time which is called the courtship period. If all goes well, the couple will get married after the courtship period and will live happily ever after. I think this evolution in the whole orthodox marriage procedure in India shows how much influence the merits of love marriage and the fact that familiarity plays a big role in the future of the couple are being accepted by the society.