Are arranged marriages a good idea - Part 1

Outline of the Conversation:

Aamani and Nisha are friends with contradictory viewpoints regarding marriage. They work for the same company in Jaipur and are both of Indian descent. Aamani grew up in rural South India while Nisha was raised in urban North India. Aamani supports arranged marriage while Nisha is against it. During their lunch break, the two share their views on the subject. 

The Conversation:

Aamani: Guess what Nisha? I spoke with my parents last night. They told me that they have started searching for my future husband. I'm so excited! I have a question for you.

Nisha: You know you can ask me anything.

Aamani: I know we both have Indian families, but have different views on things since I'm from South India and you were born and raised in North India. So what is your opinion of arranged marriage?

Nisha: Let me first say that I'm happy for you. But to be honest, I do not favor arranged marriages and think that they do more harm than good.

Aamani: Why do you say that? Have your parents ever talked to you about this?

Nisha: My parents follow most of our native traditions, but when it comes to marriage and relationships, they have a liberal modern perspective. Even though their marriage was arranged, they want something different for me.

Aamani: Oh, I see. Well, our parents have known us our entire lives and tend to know our characters better. My parents are very traditional and only want the best for me. Did you know that in olden days, arranged marriages involved no input from the bride and groom? In modern times, finding a mate for one's daughter involves everyone's input and meticulous research to avoid placing her in a bad situation.

Nisha: I understand that but I think the whole process is very discriminatory, and goes against my belief of equality of ethnicity, nationality, gender, economic background, and so on.

Aamani: Can you give me an example?

Nisha: Just think about it Aamani. In India, when parents hunt for a suitable spouse, what criteria do they follow? They consider a person's caste, ethnicity, family status, age, astrological sign, looks, and physical attributes. These factors unfairly narrow the selection of candidates and exclude many eligible people.

Aamani: Parents do take these into account, but what about the other things they consider that are absolutely necessary to find a suitable spouse for their child? Like values and personal expectations, religion, diet, education, and profession.

Nisha: These things are important but they should not set strict boundaries. I think they only get in the way of a marriage if you let them. My boyfriend is not of my caste and comes from a very poor family with little education, from the opposite side of the country. Even though he grew up disadvantaged, he excelled in college and is building a promising career with his job.

Aamani: What is your relationship like with him? What commonalities do the two of you have?

Nisha: We love each other and have been together four years. We met in college, and he has always treated me like a queen. We are both athletic and play sports together. We both love animals and nature, and enjoy all sorts of outdoor activities together. We share a deep interest in the world and other cultures, and love learning about each other's world.

Aamani: It seems that you have a very meaningful relationship with this man and looks like you're creating a life with him. Are you going to marry him?

Nisha: We've actually talked about it a lot lately. We both want it very much, but are unable to because I'm here working. I'm sure we will get married when the project ends here and I go home to Delhi next year.

Aamani: How do your families get along? There must be some difficulty with cultural differences.

Nisha: Of course there are differences in our backgrounds, but our parents get along just fine. Although they drastically differ in education and career fields, our parents admire each other's hard work and family values. My brother and my boyfriend played on the same basketball team in college and are good friends.

Aamani: What about religion? I know you are Hindu, and you mentioned he is Christian before. How do you relate to each other in a spiritual sense?

Nisha: We have even been able to get past our religious differences. It is especially easy for me because my boyfriend, even though he is Christian, has a genuine interest in Hindu deities and Sanatana Dharma. He refers to himself as a free-thinking Christian. Our families do not attend church or go to the temple together, but have a mutual respect for each other's religious preference.

Aamani: That's interesting.  It sounds like you have a lot in common and I can understand why you want to marry. 

Vocabulary:

Descent - The people in your family who lived before you were born: your ancestors.

Liberal - Not opposed to new ideas or ways of behaving that are not traditional or widely accepted.

Meticulous - Very careful about doing something in an extremely accurate and exact way.

Discriminatory - Unfairly treating a person or group of people differently from other people or groups of people.

Criteria - Something that is used as a reason for making a judgment or decision.

Commonality - The fact of sharing features or qualities.

Free-thinking - The condition of forming one's own opinions about important subjects (such as religion and politics) instead of accepting what other people say.

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