Sharing an email.
I have been a fan of your blog since long. The comments and the discussion that happens on each post it truly a very eye-opening. The point of view of the commentators are so different and unique that really helps the readers in similar situation.
Of late, I have been in treading in similar waters and would like to share my problem with you and your readers for solutions.
I am in a relationship with a guy from different community since two years. We came in touch during our masters, we did our post graduation from the same college. He helped me through some difficult times and now, we live in different cities, but the relationship is still strong.
Now, we have decided to take the relationship to next level and get married. Personlly I cant wait to get married and I know this sounds cheezy, but I have this weird vision of both of us being 80 year olds and still being happily married. 🙂
His parents had been already searching for a girl in his community since even before we had met. But we did not want to enter into a marriage just because of this, so we took our time to get to know each other and understand each other.
Meanwhile his parents had already found a girl from his community whom they feel is ‘perfect’ for him. His family is quite traditional so they expect him to meet her once and decide if he wants to marry her or not.
So, he decided to tell about me at his place. On hearing about me, his dad started crying and stopped talking to him. He said that my guy (lets call him ‘L’) had hurt him. L went to his native and tried to convince his family in every way possible. He gave examples of couples who had previously gotten married outside caste and are happy, his family believes a lot in religion, so he gave examples from Gita, Guru Nanak, Radha Krishna etc all that said love marriages were ok.
Now, L lives alone in another city, and I will be joining him there after marriage. Currently his mom used to live with him as she suffers from dipression and his dad visits him once a month for couple of days.
He even said that I have lived with people of various castes and creed and got on well with everyone. And that I will most definately get on well with the family, provided ofcourse, that the family will also make an effort to be cordial to me.
L even said that he does not want to be tied down in a marriage with a stranger and face all things that his parents and grandparents had to face. To which his dad replied that he was being selfish for seeing only his happiness.
Even I tried talking to his dad yesterday, but no matter what I said his answer remaind the same. “Beta we have to stay in samaaj. I cant go against Samaaj. If you get married than samaaj will make fun of me and I dont want to face that.”
Now finally he has told L, “Do whatever you want. You will have my blessings. But if you marry her, I will have to break all contacts with you, and next time you come back, we will ask the girl that we have choosen for you to come and decide everything for final time”
Now L and I do not want to get married against the parents wishes. We want them to be with us on our big day.
What we want from IHM’s readers is that if someone had faced a similar issue that how they tackled it? How they convinced the parents?
We really tried everything we could think of but still we whatever we say, the answer always is the same: Caste. How to solve it.
IHM, please post this on your blog, we really are at a wit’s end here.
What do you think of Arranged Marriages where there is no direct or indirect coercion, caste-matching, horoscope-matching or dowry negotiations; and where the parents do no more than introduce the Prospective Bride and the Prospective Bride Groom?
And when would you judge (or blame) a man or a woman for breaking an engagement in such ‘arranged marriages’?
A Guest Post by priya.
Finding a Life Partner – do we need a book on dating written for Indians?
My company has a branch in India and we sometimes get people from India to come and train in the US. These are mostly young men and women in their twenties, almost all of them single. Sometimes I take the ‘India team’ out for lunch or coffee, and invariably the conversation goes from work to more personal stuff.
There is this young man ‘Ravi’ (name changed) in the group. His parents are ‘looking for matches’ for him. He recently went to India to ‘see a girl’. So everyone asked him how it went. He shared that he was shocked that the girl confessed to him that she had dated another guy and it hadn’t worked out. (This was done in private, without parents around.) So he asked her why she is agreeing to an arranged marriage. The girl said she is doing it to keep things smooth with her parents, but intends to eventually meet someone and marry by her own choice.
So ‘Ravi’ just told his parents he didn’t like the girl and to keep looking. When he shared this with the group, everyone ( 5 women, 2 men) burst out laughing. Apparently, everyone in the group already had a steady bf/gf or were getting engaged to someone they had been dating. Everyone told ‘Ravi’ to ‘stop being ridiculous’, to ‘come out of the Middle Ages’, to ‘be an adult and go find a life partner on his own.’
Ever since, I’ve seen ‘Ravi’ talking more to the women colleagues. He is extremely awkward (like the guy in your recent post). He doesn’t know how to strike up a conversation with a woman – for example he could discuss her work and be interested in role in the project. Instead he talks about her looks or something she’s wearing – with someone he barely knows. The women sometimes joke about him behind his back. The interesting thing is that these women are perfectly comfortable striking up conversations, making friends, asking people out, etc. Some of them complain that ‘liberated men’ are in minority. ‘My bf wants to get a flat in Bangalore and live with his parents!’ complained one of the women. It seems to me as if out of the pool of educated/middle class/professional/worldly/sophisticated group of Indians, the women are changing, but the men are clinging to the past? I do know a few progressive men and don’t want to over-generalize here – this is not meant to stereotype men – but I was just wondering, is this true of the majority??.
I feel like men like ‘Ravi’ will go back to having an arranged marriage because they haven’t been raised to become adults. They are like children all their life – their parents will make decisions for them, and in a way that must be comforting because it takes away the responsibility of having to make your own mistakes, facing the consequences, learning, and making your relationship work. On the other hand, it must be so frustrating when things don’t work out in your marriage. You never had a say in it, in the first place. Then you ‘have to make it work’ even if you hate to.
Isn’t this a problem for many young Indian urban professional men? Even when they want to find a life partner of their own choice, they don’t know where to begin. How do you talk to a girl in a away that is not condescending, not creepy, not patronizing? How can these young men learn how to do this? There are no role models in their family (can’t talk to dad!). Friendship between boys and girls is discouraged in schools. The movies have such a creepy version of boy meets girl (except for some of the newer ones). So where is the opportunity to learn the most natural thing in the world – finding a mate??
Indian culture today is against young people choosing their own partners. Dowry, segregation, traditions, family values, Indian values, horoscope, caste, community, gotra etc are used to control their choices:
Some young Indian men seek not love but a good daughter in law for their parents:
Some young (and old) Indian men believe girls who have boyfriends are not ‘good Indian girls’:
Many Indians understand rape as ‘sex outside marriage’ (consensual or not); interactions between ‘opposite sexes’ are seen as women ‘asking to be raped’. This also serves to prevent ‘choice marriages’.
Patriarchy empowers Parents of Sons, but it controls (not empowers) those Sons (or younger men).
Whether young Indian men are raised like spoiled princes or as obedient Shravan Kumars – they are traditionally valued for being Budhape ka Sahara who provide care givers and dowry for their parents’ old age. That’s our ‘family system’.
Most of Indian culture seems to be about ensuring that young Indians do not choose their own partners because we believe that Love Marriages spoil the Family System of our Nation.
Isn’t that why we claim it’s our culture/tradition/values to control the personal lives and choices of young Indian adults?
Sharing an email.
I have been reading your blog for the past few days. I especially liked your posts on the conflict between modern and the orthodox India, and the problems that arise as a result of it. When reading your post “How i spent 4 years in this hell-hole” about the horrors faced at college, I felt as if I was reading a story of my own life…
I am a 18 year old male, from a traditional (read: backward) Indian family. Just to give you an idea, love marriages are considered taboo, and any sort of interaction with members of the opposite sex is frowned upon. You may not believe me but I’ve had instances where I was having a conversation on a mobile phone, suddenly my father walks up to me and demands that I put my phone on loudspeaker mode so that he can listen to the conversation. When I refused, he put his ear to my cellphone’s earpiece trying to eavesdrop.
Enraged, I disconnected the call and told him that he was intruding upon my privacy. This enraged him and he told me that I was getting spoiled and was falling into bad company. Actually there was nothing of that sort, I was just talking to a female friend (mind you, she wasn’t my girlfriend). But I knew that if this was discovered, there would be uproar in my home and my father could even call that girl and tell her not to talk to me after that, he could even have asked to talk to her parents. I didn’t want her to embarrassed because of me, that’s why stopped talking to her, except on Facebook.
Basically, my parents are control freaks. They want each and every aspect of their kids’ (yes, they consider us kids, even my elder brother who is 23 years old and is a banker) lives to be controlled. I have no life of my own. I have never been to a movie. I don’t know what a mall looks like (from inside), I haven’t ever partied with a group of my friends. I can’t even work at my PC for half an hour without someone coming in and standing behind me to see what I am doing.
I don’t know what to do. I have no social life. No girlfriend. No friends. I feel lonely sometimes.
Sorry about the rant. Just felt like telling someone thats all. 🙂
Any advice for me how to deal with this situation would be greatly appreciated.
How illegal bans on Valentine’s day and birthday parties are connected with dowry deaths and sex selection.
Boys and girls holding hands.
Don’t fall in love NOW!
Girls these days.
“Wonder how I survived for 4 years in this college!!”
Bad times for Khaps. The girls are beginning to seek legal-protection and report sexual assaults instead of dying honourably.
All along the Khaps have had it in their power to deny little girls nutrition, education, freedom, inheritance, safety from sexual assaults and domestic violence, life and happiness. And now they are losing that power. That’s the real issue.
1. Less than one percent of Choice Marriages in Haryana (where couples have sought legal protection) are within the same-gotra. [link]
Less than one percent.
2. When families want a same-gotra marriage, they allow one of the same-gotra-partners to be ‘adopted’ by a different-gotra relative. Gotra is changed, marriage is performed.
3. It seems nobody calls same gotra marriages a Western influence or incest or immoral (etc) unless the couple chose each other.
So it seems the Khaps more concerned about women choosing their own partners (where they might choose equality, love and respect instead of caste; and are very likely to dare to ask for their share in property).
So how do the Khaps preserve their unlimited powers over the lives of Haryana’s little girls? Claim they are objecting to something that might find support from atleast some Indians.
Now the Khaps want the Hindu Marriage Act amended to ban same-gotra-marriages.
“People kill their daughters out of the fear that one day they might elope with men of the same gotra,”
“The minds of the younger generation have been corrupted due to invasion of obscene and vulgar culture. Our youngsters have forgotten the rich values and customs of our society,” said Baljit Malik of Gathwala khap.
Addressing the meeting, Hardeep Ahlawat demanded a change in the law to ban matrimonial ties between couples from same gotras and same villages — traditionally viewed as brothers and sisters.
“A legal ban on such marriages would also help curb the menace of honour killings and female feticide which has brought a bad name to Haryanvi society,” said Om Prakash Dhankar, a khap leader.
Other leaders argued that there would not be any honour killings or female foeticide if same-gotra marriages were banned. “People kill their daughters out of the fear that one day they might elope with men of the same gotra,” said Dhankar.
Do we have a law against Semi-Forced and Forced Marriages? Isn’t that what the Khaps should be given when they ask for ban on same gotra marriages? (Because they really need to be told that they don’t get to decide who two consenting adults marry or live with).
And not a word from Khaps about banning of buying of one wife (from other states or countries), for two, three or more brothers in a family?
Dharmvir Goyat’s exact words:
“Is mamle mein mujhe koi sankoch naheen hai ye kahne se ki nabbe pratishat ladkiyan jaati sahmati se hain, aur aage apraadhi vyakti mil jate hain jo hawas ka shikaar hote hain. Ladki ko ye pata naheen hota ki aage panch… saat… dus … So Nabbe pratishat ladkiyan jaati sahmati se hain, aur aage apraadhi vyakti mil jate hain. Main saaf kahna chahta hoon.” [Link]
“In this matter I have no hesitation is saying this that Ninety percent girls go willingly/with consent, but later they meet criminal minded people who are victims of lust. Girl does not know that further there are five, seven, ten… So, Ninety percent girls go willingly/with consent, but later they meet criminal minded people. I want to state this clearly.”
So what does he mean?
Is he saying the rape victims go willingly to be raped? He is not.
Does he mean girls in Haryana go willingly to have consensual sex (and that is when men in Haryana rape them)?
And who told him that? Did the rape victims tell him this? Or do Rapists make such claims?
Let’s say the rapists told him that (and he believed these rapists). What motivation could the rapists have to try to claim that the victim came willingly? What does ‘rape-victim-went-willingly’ imply? That the victim intended to have sex/meet a man? Would it help an Indian rapist if the victim is shown to be sexually active?
How difficult it is for a violent, brutal, rape-MMS making rapist with a criminal record to convince random people, political leaders, NCR cops, Khaps and some TOI commenters, that the rape victim was responsible for the rape?
Does it help the court case? It does. Amongst other things, it could frighten and shame the victim into taking back her case and/or committing suicide. It could shame her family into moving to another place – case closed. It could make many witnesses turn hostile.
So rapists and their lawyers have a lot to gain from trying to show that the rape-victim-went-willingly.
But why do some other people appear keen to have this taken as the truth? How do they benefit from perpetuating such misogyny and rape-myths?
It’s possible that some people see gang-rapes as an appropriate punishment for women who are accused of (or suspected of) wanting to have sex with a man they are not married to?
Stoning is not legal in India, but one can always overlook other kinds of punishments for women who seem to want to choose their own partners. Recently one brother in Delhi killed his sister,
NEW DELHI: A teenager allegedly stabbed his younger sister to death early this morning as he disapproved of her alleged relationship with a boy, police said. [Link]
This brother and others like him would be glad to use Dharmvir Goyat’s statement to warn the girls in their family against daring to think of interacting with men, dating, having relationships with men or even dreaming of falling in love and choosing their own partners.
It seems directly or indirectly rapes are used to control women’s choices and freedoms, whether as excuses to marry minor girls to men they have no way to choose or reject, or by ensuring these girls are not allowed to try choose their own partners.
“Girls should be married at 16, so that they don’t need to go elsewhere for their sexual needs. This way rapes will not occur.”
Another topic suggestion:In your blog in one week time we saw three women in their late 20s or early 30s forced to use the Matrimonial Ad route for an arranged marriage by the parents/family. All the three were well educated well employed, living in mega cities, living happy lives as Single women.All three had bitter experiences from the Matrimony Market but still they were trying to get married.Why? Is family pressure the only reason?Is the need for a partner to share their lives with and need for kids a factor? Do these women had/have steady boy friends? Can the lack of a boy friend be a factor?
Also ask “Why didn’t these women find a life partner by dating?”Don’t put my name pls -P
How illegal bans on Valentine’s day and birthday parties are connected with dowry deaths and sex selection.
Even if the parents disapproved, what could they possibly hope to achieve by getting their son in law killed? (if they are responsible, as alleged by Paras’s family and if they are not, then the question applies to thousands of other such cases, reported or not reported.)
The general thinking in India is that ‘children’ mind for a while but they eventually ‘adjust’.
Body of 23 year old Paras Bhasin found hacked into more than 10 pieces
Body of Paras Bhasin, 23, a final-year BBA student, was found hacked into more than 10 pieces, within a kilometer of the railway tracks in east Delhi.
The police first refused to register a case, insisting Bhasin had committed suicide. Paras’s family alleges that his in laws are responsible for his death, because they were against his marriage to their daughter.
His wife’s family claims they had no idea their daughter had married Paras.
New Delhi: An enraged youth went on a shooting spree on Monday gunning down five persons, including his lover, before killing himself as she was married off to someone else.
25-year-old Ravi first killed his lover Renu, her husband Navin and their landlady Sheila (53) in south-west Delhi’s Bindapur. He then travelled more than 40 km to Ghaziabad to eliminate the girl’s father Harender and sister Baby to avenge his loss.
Ravi, who was continuing his relationship even after Renu’s marriage, was unhappy over her family not allowing him to marry her, a senior police official said.
Ravi then drove to Bhojpur in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad where Renu’s family stay. He entered the house and pumped bullets into Harender (Sheila’s father) and Baby killing them on the spot, the official said.
The youth then shot himself dead after being surrounded by villagers.
There is no mention of how the police official learnt that ‘he was continuing his relationship even after Renu’s marriage’, since the husband, wife and the murderer are all dead.
What do you think of this comment? My response in italics.
Can a guy have something to say in this matter….
Okay ! First,its official. I am going to find a good girl, fall in love and marry her. But I’ll do that few months later because I have to study and crack my MBA exams for now. But..Ladies..you have scored big one on this “marriage is for two people” thing. Don’t understand why elders make it a public fanfare ceremony.
To put in my few cents as a guy’s (who is only 23) perspective:
1. I think a man must have guts to stand for his wife against all odds (even if odds are from his own family.
2. He must also have guts to confront the wife if she plays the bad girl.
[IHM: What exactly is ‘playing a bad girl’… read further to get a general idea of what is a good girl, I am assuming those who don’t fit in the description of ‘good girls’ would be considered ‘bad girls’.]
3. A girl leaves her house and life for you. I think her man is her only support. A boy who cant hold her hand if her in laws stand against her, doesn’t have right to fall in love in the first place.
[IHM: A girl should not be expected to leave her life, home, family, friends, (her support group) first name, second name, career, eating, dressing, sleeping, walking, laughing (etc) habits to get married.
This expectation is at the root of all the hatred for daughters (Paraya Dhan) in this country, because it means a daughter can be her parents’ support and care giver only until she gets married, after that the parents have no rights over her. Indian parents are expected to train her for this future, and then pay her in-laws to accept her.]
4. An arranged marriage can be equally miserable.
5. “Definition of successful marriage- A marriage that doesn’t ends in divorce” is a wrong notion.
6. Daughter ! I love you unless you fall in love or marry outside the cast, or not marry one among the exhaustive list of these 12.
How stupid !
7. People think that girls in love marriages do not pay due respect to in laws. My cousin had a love marriage in Jain’s and she is living a great life.(Our family is liberal). She was a non vegetarian and Kayastha by caste. She is an IITian but knows and has accepted every element of Jainism now (by choice). Her In laws boast about her in their community. Her daadi in law does’nt go anywhere without her. She is an ideal Bahu and loved by all.
[IHM: Would they have loved her less if she had continued to eat non vegetarian food? Or if she wasn’t seen as a ‘boast-worthy’ ‘ideal Bahu’?
What if she wanted to be herself and live like just another, equal family member? Why not see the Bahu as a person? As human?
Aren’t such expectations the reason why traditional Indians see raising daughters as a challenging task? ]
Finally, Guys (if there are any) ! Girls are not engineering colleges that your parents know about more than you. Marriage is your own choice. Wives..well they are awesome! They will cross heavens to make you and the family’s lives happy. All they ask in return is lots of love and support. Give them that. They deserve it
(Actually top it up with few warm hugs & kisses. )
[IHM: And would the wives remain awesome if they see crossing some heavens to make spouse and his family happy as a mutual thing?
Or if they expect a little more than ‘love and support topped up with a few warm hugs and kisses’?
Or if they see ‘love, support, few warm hugs and kisses’ as a mutual thing?
And if they wish to have a say in what they need support for? For instance support in giving up old eating habits or support in continuing to work?]
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