Marriages in India are culturally and regionally diverse. A South Indian marriage is a simple and sober day-long event. In contrast, a North Indian marriage can be a rambunctious and lively event, lasting anywhere from two to seven days.
I am a native of Southern India – a State called Kerala, which means “the land of coconuts.” Because of its tropical beauty and 100% literacy rate, it is also called “God’s own country.”
In South India the wedding date is fixed almost at the drop of a hat. No dating and no courting! No telephone calls or no online chats before marriage! Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! One of my cousins, who is planning to get married, is a registered nurse and has obtained a green card for United States. She plans to leave for Florida in as few months and so she wanted to get married before her departure for the U.S. This opened the door for proposals from young men who are seeking a wife.
Marriage is truly a Family Affair
Almost 100% of marriage proposals are entertained only if they are from men from the same religious background. Most of the time, when making the decision, family status and reputation are taken into consideration as well. A professional matchmaker proposed for my cousin a bridegroom who is a computer software engineer. (Professional matchmakers are easy to find these days. Some of them even have computerized offices with “harmony.com”!)
In the presence of representatives from both families the perspective bridegroom and my cousin met for few minutes in one of their homes. Although they had never met before, they liked each other! (This does not happen always and so a young lady can be visited at her home by many young men. This was my cousin’s 15th proposal!)
God must have put some kind of love chip in their hearts to let them know that they were made for each other because this time they liked each other. That pleased the families as well, and they gave the green light. From that point on, the rest of the legwork for the wedding is done by the two families. The bride and groom do not have to worry about a single thing.
As I mentioned previously, before finalizing a wedding, it is customary for the families to inquire about each other’s reputation. Once expectations are satisfied and agreed upon, the decision is taken and a date set for the wedding. Everything has happened in about 10-20 minutes during visitations to the bride’s and the groom’s families!
The beauty of this strange arrangement is that such weddings are not just about a young lady and a young man tying the knot sacramentally. It is actually about two families entering into a relationship through this marriage. It’s almost as if they are getting married too!
The miracle of this union is that from 90-95% of marriages of this kind do last! This makes us believe that “couples are made in heaven” and they are meant to live together forever.