India is a country of diverse cultures, regions, ethnic backgrounds, languages, castes and religions; quite a fascinating thing that attracts most foreign tourists. But this very cultural difference could be baffling if someone wants to choose his/her better half belonging to different ethnic background, or caste to be more specific. The thought is provoking, yet could be revolutionary if even a single person stands up against all odds and tries to make a change; and there are a few who did that but failed to change the society’s mindset for long run. We as social beings are so involved in our communities that we forget respecting others. The general perspective is that we are somehow higher in living and cultural standards than any other person.
If an adult son or daughter keeps up a proposal of doing anything different when it comes to marriages he/she is often looked down upon for being too childish or immature; despite of the fact that parents do want their children get settled and never face any life related hurdles, both financially and emotionally. Ever wondered why honor killings still exist? This is because the parents are too involved with other community members and relatives to the extent of being just manipulative living objects. They do whatever they are told and strictly commanded, whatever their so called ‘helping hands’ feel what is right or wrong. Their egotistical nature ruins their children’s future plan. Most love stories end due to the same reason because they are psychologically shattered that they have no control over their own rational thinking. If a couple makes a successful attempt to marriage, they might be killed by their own relatives, or at least socially boycotted. Very less rates prevail in the country in which parents support.
Due to the rise in the education and living standard inter-caste marriages are being given green signal these days and there are successful stories where parents wholeheartedly accept their children’s decision; but the graph has reached merely to 5%, which is still very low. People are extremely stuck with their rigid viewpoints just as a tree is firmly grounded and doesn’t move from its permanent spot till it dies.
The caste system was introduced during the India’s ancient culture where certain groups of people had specialized tasks to perform. Their children had to maintain that legacy by performing the same function and that never ended. Over the time the Mughals came, the British Raj ruled over the entire country, and so the country has now mixed races and cultures, the acceptance towards others is tolerated at some level but not beyond limits. One doesn’t have a clue about his own ancestry whether they were the natives or foreigners or mixed, still claim to be superior, which is frustrating. There would always be a huge cultural difference in the Brahmins of West Bengal to that of Tamil Nadu or Gujrat or Bihar. Same goes with other castes and religions.
There is also another concept of Gotra that prevails in most parts of north India. Many people believe that if they belong to common ancestors they cannot marry their children to each other because they would be termed as siblings. Sharing common ancestors is termed as Gotra in native language. If a couple belongs to the same caste their Gotra must be always different. In Rajputs, the surnames are considered as Gotra and therefore a boy who has surname Shekhawat cannot marry a girl who has this surname. This is not the case with Brahmins of Northern India. Brahmins are divided into Paliwal, Menaria, Paneri, Gaud, Gurjar Gaud, etc. It is possible that they share the same surname but their Gotra could be different. A boy and girl may have the surname as Sharma, but their Gotra could be like Bhardwaj, Bhargava, Samprayana, etc. There are several cases of honor killings in the Indian state Haryana where couple of even the same sub-caste were beaten brutally to death because of being termed as siblings; forget about different castes or even religions. A child residing in a village not only knows his Gotra but also his neighbors’ Gotra as well, on his fingertips. There are many myths associated with love marriages due to which people hesitate to support their children:
Myth 1: The girl won’t be able to adjust in her new home that has entirely different cultural background; and this could result in ego issues. The boy would be less involved in girl’s family and will always keep a more distance than an otherwise another guy from an arranged marriage would.
Fact: A girl and boy have decided to marry each other, is because they respect their differences based on their caste/religion/ethnicity. Most probably they will be willing to celebrate each festival that comes on their way. If the guy has the habit of socializing with people he will definitely involve the girl’s parents as well in constantly communicating with them; this has nothing to do with his caste or religion.
Myth 2: The children will be always left in confusing state their entire life about their real identity.
Fact: Most children who have their bringing up in multi-cultural backgrounds are more open in conversation, smart and intellectual than other children who are raised in the same background. This is because they are the ones who have the whole new level of experience from both the sides and interact with a variety of people. One could say that they are the hybrid ones when it comes to intellect. There are more chances that they learn different languages fluently.
Myth 3: If either of the girl or boy is the eldest among all the siblings, their siblings will face hard time in searching for bride/groom when it’s their time to get married.
Fact: People do consider good family background when they search for their children’s spouses. But there are cases in which younger siblings didn’t face issues in their own marriage. There are the types of parents who confidently shield their children when it comes to sensitive topics and never tolerate non-sensical criticisms. Why would you marry your another daughter to someone who would probably bully her whole life about her elder sister’s life decisions? Setting a particular standard and not allowing people to poke every now and then is the best practice that such parents follow. And now is the time that everyone does that.
Myth 4: Divorce rates are higher in love marriages than arrange marriages.
Fact: India is a country with significantly lower divorce rates than any other country because of the rigid principles of arrange marriage and the viewpoint of people towards it, considering it as a sacred thing and not a contract. This is followed since many centuries and is indeed a good step. The problem arises when people impose their perspectives upon others and show their deaf ears to anything different. There are successful arrange marriages as well as love marriages because the couple respect each other, show love and care, and always be a ground support to each other when the hard time arises. It has nothing to do with the type of marriage. There are several cases of frustrated couples as well who have nothing left like a real loving couples have and still do not separate with each other because of the social pressure. Not getting divorce at all does not always imply that the couple is happy.
Myth 5: A step to love marriage will encourage other children to do the same and the family legacy would be gone.
Fact: The time is changing really fast and we are in 21st century. Whether or not your child decides to do love marriage, other children of new generation are going to do that anyway. The first case in any family has lot to do with mental struggles but there comes a point where everything subsides with time. The gates are open for younger generations and they do not face that much difficulty that their elder siblings did. As far as legacy is concerned we as human beings must grow up and have a welcome gesture towards others’ ethnic background. The term legacy is far gone since the governments were formulated post independence that follows democracy and not the era of king and queen when only certain sects were privileged with luxury. The legacy is more of a metaphor that people take in a literal manner.
Myth 6: Inter-caste/Inter-religion marriage is a sin and God will punish those who commit such wrong deeds because they betrayed their parents and community and tarnished their sentiments.
Fact: There are many people who love the idea of worshiping God, others do believe in God but do not support the idea of following the rituals, and there are those who are atheists. So, let’s not debate for now if this unknown entity really exist or not.
As far as the sin is concerned let the universe decide what comes into our life as per our thought processes and our own mindset and behavior towards others. When we say the word Sin or Sinner, we actually judge other people for their deeds because in our own eyes we are the divine ones. When it comes to our own wrongdoings, we try really hard in justifying for ourselves that due to so and so circumstances we did this or that. Most people do not realize their own acts and swiftly conclude to something when it comes to judging others after hearing made-up stories about someone.
The parents and relatives in most cases always try harder convincing the person to quit his or her decision soon as possible. When nothing works they scare them of social pressures and community boycotts that they might be receiving post marriage. The person becomes so shattered that he or she quits. The current situation very well explains that if people rely more on their caste that they even prefer casting their votes to the person belonging to their community, it will take not less than 50 years to reach to that viewpoint which will support inter-caste marriages on large scale. I believe even arrange marriage must welcome this step. The rest would be history.