Arranged marriages might sound like a thing of the past, but they certainly are not. They are alive and relatively well in certain parts of the world. This article does not condone or reject arranged marriages. Rather we are simply reporting on stories that we have heard from around the world, on the internet, and through hearsay. The gossip bubble is large and often times it expands to double, even triple, its size. That’s just how gossip works. So whether or not these stories are true or not is not for us to decide. However, the point that is real here is that arranged marriages can happen and some have fairy tale outcomes whereas others not so much. Those that end badly end very badly. After all, the concept of putting together two families based on specific factors outside of romance, compatibility, and chemistry seem odd to a Western culture such as ours. However, that doesn’t mean other factors like astrology, economy, and social standing can’t determine a couple’s ability to enter into marriage successfully. Whether or not you’re for it or against it, arranged marriage stories are a curious concept, and here are some stories that might leave you with your mouth hanging open in shock and wonder.
13. Getting that visa or green card and ghosting
“A friend of mine in the US fell head-over-heels in love with a girl in India who he met on Shaadi. Got married and brought her to the US, but she divorced him in 2 months. Turns out, the girl married him only because he was from the same city as her boyfriend, who couldn’t afford/wasn’t able to get her a Visa. She used him to get into the country and then split. The guy was/is absolutely heartbroken.”
Of course, this is not the first or the last time you’ll hear one of these stories. People are desperate to get out of their country and seek the opportunities in others that they will even get married to a foreigner. Really, for them what is marriage but another opportunity to get them closer to achieving their dreams. Yes, scandalous and cold-hearted, but this world isn’t predicated on sugar and spice and everything nice.
12. No glasses, please. And wearing contacts is vain
“This happened to my cousin when her parents were trying to get her married at the age of 23.
Guy works in the US. Guy’s parents come to see the girl. Everything goes well. Guy’s parents even tell her that she doesn’t have to work if she doesn’t want to. Girl really gets excited after hearing this. :P Now the guy wants to see and talk to her. Thanks to Skype, they have a long conversation. Everything seemed to be going really well, that is until the girl’s parents start picking up dates for the marriage. And suddenly, the guy’s parents ask the girl to Skype with them since they wanted to ‘talk’ to her. They talk about the guy and how everything is going on between them.
And here comes the twist. The very next day, the guy’s parents call and tell her parents that they want to call off the set up. When asked for the reason, they say that the girl had ‘GLASSES’ and the girl wasn’t wearing them when they met. Apparently, she was wearing them when she Skyped with the guy and the guy had mentioned the same to his parents. WTF! We often laugh when she puts on her glasses.”
“I met a young lady during a family event. Was unaware she was checking me out. She complained I was too vain because I wore contact lenses.”
Both of these stories seem to hold some contradiction. On the one hand, the girl must have perfect vision, and glasses are seen as a weakness or debility. On the other hand, to try and correct the vision with glasses or contacts, one is seen as ugly or too vain. Seriously, one cannot win with such pressure this is extreme. So extreme that one feels guilty for needing glasses.
11. A little vanity goes a long way
For this story, the meeting was arranged through some common friend of both the families in a hotel. Both the families first introduced each other and afterwards the typical marriage meeting conversation commenced. In the middle of the conversation, the prospective groom’s mother suddenly asked the prospective bride to accompany her out. So both of them walked away. Nobody else on the table got a clue what was happening (may be some of them knew what was happening, but they pretended as if they didn’t know).
Once they left the room, the groom’s mother took the girl out in an open area and asked her to:
Pull her saree up and show her legs up to her knee. (Why: To check her real complexion. Logic: Face can be covered up with make-up, but nobody wears make up on their legs)
Walk 10 meters and come back. (Why: To check whether prospective bride’s way of walking was OK or not. Logic: None )
The tradition of evaluating a prospective bride is rather shallow and this proves it. One’s complexion should not determine whether there is a good match, nor should the way one walks. However, in some cultures, traditions die hard or hardly die. In either case, women suffer greatly from such injustices. It’s bad enough we’re judged on a daily basis by society and ourselves, now we are evaluated to verify our ability to be a decent bride.
10. Hips and birth ability
“Ruhi has had so many hilarious experiences trying to look for a husband that she’s even started a blog. One time, after asking her the usual questions, the boy’s mother proclaimed that she liked Ruhi for her wide hips that were ideal for child-bearing. Who doesn’t love a good booty?”
This one makes sense, I must admit. If the goal of the arranged marriage is to produce many children, then technically hips are a good indicator of fertility. Hips have indicated a woman’s ability to be fertile and birth since the beginning of time, and it’s no wonder that the tradition has stuck around. It’s a tried and true formula for determining breeding. Now, that being said, this is not one-hundred percent accurate or fool-proof, but considering it’s been relied on since the dawn of time, I’d say that it’s an ideal way to gauge a woman’s fertility.
9. Astrology equals compatibility
“My father received a call from a bride’s mother and after initial introduction she asked my date and time of birth. My father had told her ‘## – ### -1986 12.15 afternoon.’ During evening, I received call from her directly. She said, ‘I tried contacting your father but couldn’t reach him, so I called you. I’ve got a good news.’ I asked, ‘What is that?’ ‘Your horoscope matches perfectly. We checked with a very famous astrologer. You people can also ask this **** astrologer, he comes on TV you know, and if he says it matched then you can marry blindly.’ I thought WTF!! She continues, ‘You see, my daughter was born in blah blah Nakshatra and yours in Rohini Nakshatra, and it has scored 35, and astrologer said that’s so rare combination, you know, we feel so lucky that we found you.’ Although I don’t believe in horoscope at all, I still know my star, which is Raashi etc. I said, ‘Wait a minute, mine is ***** Nakshatra not Rohini Nakshatra.’ She said, ‘How come? Isn’t your date of birth ##-###-1986??’ I said, ‘Yes.’ She said, ‘Your time of Birth s 12.15 AM??’ I said, ‘It’s not AM, aunty, but 12.15 PM, its afternoon.’ She said, ‘Oh, your father should tell that correctly no, you know, with such a great difficulty, I took appointment of **** astrologer, I waited so long, paid him 1000 rupees for this. Now I have to again take his appointment and pay him 1000 rupees. Can’t you people give these basic important details correctly?’ ‘WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAT! OMG.’ I said, ‘You know what aunty, I do not want to waste your 1000 rupees and my time, we do not want to continue. Let’s call it off.’”
In many Eastern cultures, horoscopes and astrology are equal to religion. They are taken seriously and whatever the charts say are taken as truth – like for real, for real truth. If you study astrology at all, you might understand the validity of such a belief system. After all, the time at which we were born plus the season, month, and hour determine the planetary influences on our constitutions and will therefore assist in finding an ideal match. Get into your natal charts, see what’s there – find truth.
8. Under age and way too innocent
“My cousin was a very smart girl with lots of potential for college and work afterwards. But at 17 years old, a senior in high school, she and her father went to India for a wedding. Little did she know it was her wedding to a man in his late 30’s, no less. Now she’s stuck there with no friends, no higher education, and no other family to speak of. She had to come back to America after the wedding to finish school, but didn’t get to attend her graduation ceremony and receive her diploma. 7 years later, she has 3 kids with a man she barely knows. She has visited 2 times over the years, but with Trump elected she’s scared to come again next year.”
“This reminds me of my Iranian-American college friend who was not looking forward to her cousin’s wedding. When I asked why, she said it was because her cousin was 17 and marrying a guy who was 43. This wasn’t in the old country — it was happening in California. The girl ‘chose’ it and the parents were like ‘A-OK, daughter!’”
These stories are frightening because of the fact that they all point to older men lusting for young girls. Some might call this tradition or perfectly normal as it pertains to cultural standards, but it’s hard to believe that a grown man can’t find a grown woman to be his mate rather than chase after a young, innocent girl.
7. Denying menstruation
“The boy’s family told this Quora user that she would have to stay in her room while menstruating, be home before the evening lamp is lit to perform pujas, and even stay home instead of working. She was even subjected to hilarious trivia quizzes before being asked to ‘gift’ a car and jewelry because, apparently, only houses and money are counted as dowry.”
Give us a break. Hiding a woman away during her period is not only super repressive, it’s sending the message that what a woman’s body does at a specific time of the month is dirty and should be ignored. However, that same time of the month (especially when it occurs regularly) signifies that pregnancy possible. This is such a double standard that screams hypocrite –it’s revolting how some women are treated just for being women. Of course, this is nothing new, it’s been happening for centuries and, unfortunately, continues to happen today. But we can hope that one day society will embrace menstruation for the magical process that it is, and that is part of the life-giving cycle that keeps all of humanity afloat.
6. Goodbye lefty
“Quora user Purwa Rojinder’s friend, Kruti, was left much better off when the boy’s family rejected her because, ‘Kruti is lefty, we don’t want a lefty progeny.’ As if lefties didn’t have enough to worry about. Lefty or righty are distant thoughts, I wish those people some luck, next time at least get a little brainy, hearty and mannerly progeny.”
Apparently, being a lefty is not seen as something auspicious. At least, not in this particular culture. Just as some parents request certain characteristics (like tall, curvy, short, thin, or fair), one can request other specifications for the bride-to-be. It feels wrong, right? Like they are ordering a car or something. But when parents have a dream partner in mind, it can be pretty hard to shake them off that notion. And, of course, they are considering genetics and how it will play a part in their grandchildren’s lives. Perhaps they merely want life to be simpler. And for a lefty, we know that life in a right-handed world can be a bit of a challenge. Let’s not be too hard on this family, although ain’t nothing wrong with a lefty – nothing at all.
5. Literacy proof and writing sample. As if that proves anything
“On day of visit, they were allowed to talk separately. After few questions, he became suspicious of her educational background. To validate it, he took out his mobile, opened one newspaper app (The Hindu), and asked her to read top story for him. To avoid getting rude, he made excuse of forgetting his spectacles somewhere.”
“One of them asked to me to read a few lines from the book they had gotten along with them. Logic: To check whether I stammer, check my voice, and see if I am educated enough or am I lying about my credentials! Sigh!”
“After asking her to remove her shoes to check her real height, the boy’s family asked Rohini to write a page long essay on her job. They wanted to check if she had good handwriting. Plus they wanted her to fill out the page to check its consistency.”
These stories might seem crazy, but it’s also crazy what some women will do or say in order to snag a husband. While it seems harsh to make the girl prove that she did, in fact, attain a certain educational status, it makes sense for a family who values education and hopes to find a mate that matches the intellectual status of the seeker. But it does feel misogynistic. After all, it’s highly unlikely that a girl’s family would request the same from a male suitor.
4. V-Card proof
“I met this girl several times, it was an arranged meeting and we kind of liked each other. Everything went fine, the earlier two meetings were great, and we even watched a movie together. Now here is the third meeting and we had to decide and discuss important things. So we decided that we will meet in CCD. We started talking. After sometime, she asked, ‘Are you virgin?’ Call it coincidence or what, I got a little cold earlier that night, and out of sheer coincidence, I started coughing right that instant when she had just finished asking the question. I coughed close to 15 seconds, badly. When it all settled down, I remember the question and said ‘Yes, I am.’ The girl was looking like a lioness with twisted eyebrows. ‘Can you prove it? You were shocked when I asked the question, weren’t you?’ she said.”
Speaking of turning the tables, here’s a girl asking the guy about his sexual experience. This feels a bit like taking back some power. While it’s impossible to test a man for virginity, there are some hypothesis that a woman can be tested. Whether or not this is a medical truth or just superstition, there have been many cases where young women were asked to visit a gynecologist to get written verification of her purity. In some cultures, virginity is so important that doctors are requested to return or restore a woman’s hymen. This way, she bleeds on her wedding night in order to prove her virginal status to her husband and his family. Talk about going to extreme length to prove purity.
3. Specific conditions that seem really too specific
“Her Mother: ‘Here are some conditions and you have to agree to them. Do you agree to them?’ Me: ‘What are those conditions?’ Her Mother: ‘Are you having doubts? Why will you not agree to the conditions?’ Me: ‘Aunty, I do not even know what those conditions are and I did not say that I will not agree, I am just curious about the conditions. What are they?’ Her Mother:
Condition 1: You should not talk to your parents for the next 5 years and when you visit India, you should not go and see them
Condition 2: Your parents should not come and visit you in the UK.
Condition 3: I hear that you have booked a flat, you need to register it in my name (not even her daughter’s name, but her name!) before the marriage.
Me: ‘Sorry Aunty, I do not agree to any of those conditions. I wish your daughter a better and more agreeable groom. All the best!’”
When conditions get too demanding that you are kept out of touch with your own family –well, that’s when you must put your foot down. There is no excuse or reason for such a request and this clearly shows how controlling the mother-in-law is. Best to avoid this kind of woman at all costs.
2. Touching feet catastrophe
“This girl almost had the wind knocked out of her when she first met a prospective groom. Not in the way you think though. ‘When I was about to touch my prospective mother-in-law’s feet, all I remember was that I banged myself on the floor! I lost my balance because she pulled my long hair to check if it was real! I can’t explain even today how horrified I was!’”
Touching feet is a sacred act among families who consider making a commitment to one another. The marriage isn’t seen as just between the guy and girl, but between two entire families that will determine the lineage for futures to come. Touching feet is a sign of respect. It gives honor to the elders and is a sign of submission. It’s quite lovely, actually. So imagine, to this girl’s dismay, how she felt to make such a faux pas on the day of meeting the family-to-be. She must have been mortified, but hopefully the family could understand her nervousness and forgive her of such an innocent mistake. After all, she sounds really genuine.
1. Being extra nervous so that dumb questions are asked
“I don’t have a story of my own. This my friend’s story, I was present there. Went to the girl’s home. They served tea and stuff and family members had the usual talk and suddenly someone asked hey ‘Groom’ don’t you want to ask something to the “bride”?’ All of a sudden from nowhere he asked this: ‘Where do you live?’”
This is sort of cute, it’s not really horrific, but then again, we don’t know how the guy felt after this question sort of fell from his mouth. In awkward situations, we tend to say embarrassing things. We even say random things and, God forbid, vulgar things. It’s all part of the nervousness we feel, the nervousness we can’t avoid, the nervousness we’re trying so hard to face and dominate. Just because we can dominate it sometimes doesn’t mean we can do it all of the time. Case in point. Don’t feel too bad, though. This situation could have ended much worse.
Sources: quora.com, reddit.com, buzzfeed.com