Wednesday, 13 February 2013
How many times have you been to a wedding, and the aunty-ji sat next to you, pinches your cheeks and points to the beaming, blushing bride, asking you when you are going to be next? Does it matter what you feel? Does it matter what point you are at in your life? Does anything matter..? You have graduated, are in a stable job and are single... Is that enough to now, settle down...?
‘When is it your turn..?!’
Why is it that the moment that young girl is a graduate, the marriage conversations shower down and usually from the extended family and family friends, more than the immediate family itself? Living in the western world, most are blessed enough to choose their own life partner, with the blessings of the family, however despite living in the 21st century, in a multi-cultural cities like London, Birmingham, Leicester and so forth, there are still some of those who believe that the tradition of arranged marriages should still be upheld. Some of those families that have settled and built their lives in the United Kingdom, being away from their homeland, feel that they need to hold onto their roots, their culture, their traditions, including, the one of an arranged marriage. The major characteristic is the most interesting one, not just the coming together of two people, but rather the coming together of two families. Traditionally, money, property or even land was ‘gifted’ from the bride’s side, better known as a dowry. Though legally, this is no longer exists, but is this really case? With the amount of cash, gold and gifts that are showered upon the groom and their family, as the tradition dictates, is this any lesser than a formal dowry itself? Just some food for thought...
Whilst statics and research shows that divorce numbers are higher in the western society, it could also be said that due to the stigmas attached to marriage, the pressures actually held the marriage together. As mentioned earlier, an arranged marriage is not just the union of two people, but two families and thus a whole network built around the marriage, be it a support or interference, therefore minimizing the option of divorce.
Now being a young Brit-Asian, one automatically becomes attached to the two cultures; one you are born with and one you are born into, and this is where one is torn with difficulty. Do you live by the modern lifestyle and do as you please, as you may see your peers do, or do you live by your elders’ dreams, ways and traditions? Rejecting their parent’s notions out right would be welcoming World War III, inclusive of the guilt, tears and dramas, instead most youngsters now choose to take the smarter option. They agree to be introduced, but outline their wants in a partner first. Once agreed, the match-making starts. However, what about those who do not agree, or have chosen someone who is not of the same cast, creed or culture? Are they shunned away or are they welcomed into the family and society with welcome arms. Worse still, are they welcomed in, but spoken in negative manners, behind their backs?
When speaking to young Brit-Asian males, they will usually say the pressure is on them to find the right girl, as bringing home the ‘wrong’ girl could, potentially tear and spilt the entire family apart. They usually feel they need to find a bride who is happy to cover her head and sing along to the prayers that taking place at a local temple on Saturday night, for family functions. However, she also needs to be able to hold herself in amongst a group of friends, out on a Saturday night, at a bar or club, for a friend’s birthday or play the modern, educated partner at a work function. Alongside this, the usual requirements are standard asks; well-educated, able to cook and run a house-hold, self-respect and so on.
However, as society knows and see it, the most pressure is placed upon the young Brit-Asian females to find her Mr. Right and get married. Whilst they are growing up, the verbal training begins including house-hold training, grooming training and mannerism training. Whilst studying, the practical training starts, how to create the perfect dal, how to increase their RPM, (Rotis Per Minute), how to drape and wear a saree, that does not fall off or require a dozen safety pins. However as they edge to the completion of their studies, that is when the discrete hunt begins. Parents, uncles, aunties, and the grandparents start the word of mouth process. Be this at the local temple, a neighbour’s party or even a family wedding. The traditional-thinking females will be happy with this set-up, not wanting the hassles and headaches of finding their own life partner or wanting to upset or disturb the tried and tested ways. The modernised feminists will argue this point, and rightly so. If one studies and builds themselves, then surely they should be able to build their life and their career. Surely their hands are not only made for henna? However does this mean they are not traditional, not cultured, not respective of their traditions and family? Yet, they will be labelled or stereotyped under one tag or another, if they are not married within years of graduating and settling into a job.
Yet if one speaks to the parenting generation, they shall argue that these methods and traditions have been working, foolproof and failsafe for many decades now, without any problems. So why should today’s youth question a simple, yet tranquil tradition, that works and pleases all around.
Is there ever a way that will please one and all, without causing hurt or upset and despite living in a multi-cultural land, in the 21st Century, it is shocking to hear and know that such thoughts of age, cast, colour and creed still plays such an important factor in the marriage of a young Brit-Asian.