|"What are you doing today, oh mother of my children?" queries papa ji. "Well," replies mum ji, "I think I'll get some chores out of the way, like marrying off your son!" "What a great idea." agrees dad. "You do that while I wash the cars!" |
And so the wheels of the 'marriage machine' are set in motion. Once moving anyone wishing to stop them is simply steam rolled over! Before long an unsuspecting couple find that it has carried them all the way to the temple. Accompanied by a million voices commanding their every move, they sit cross legged in total bewilderment wondering which order to obey first.
Oh kidha, Sorniya!
Evolution of the arranged marriage actually starts as soon as the grades have been achieved, the job secured and the Ford Mondeo acquired. For then, life for the single Asian suddenly shifts into the "eligible" gear. Not only do mum and dad treat you like a prize poodle at Crufts but family relations (most of whom you never knew you had), suddenly become very aware of your existence, height, weight, qualifications and shoe size!
Your eligible presence is announced to anyone and everyone who may be remotely connected to a potential partner! Usually this takes the form of word-of- mouth or for the more discerning families, the Matrimonial section of Des Pardes! Whichever method is used it does not really matter for the Asian grapevine is far more effective than any 'information super highway'! Once the word is out on the street, the marriage gangsters have got ya!
The belief that "marriages are made in heaven" holds little value for Asians on the 'arranged marriage train'. Instead, what quickly becomes apparent is that "marriages are made by Aunty Golabo" - who has a very high success rate! A lady who is believed to harbor an advanced scientific method to ensure that 100% chemistry is achieved between her "arrangements". That is, one must be a male and the other not!
Hyperactive ladies such as Aunty Golabo, have successfully converted a fun-time hobby into full-time employment. One that is best described as a "marriage broker". The broker's portfolio contains "you" as the investment being hedged against unattached stock floating on the market!
Although she acts as the go-between, you can be assured that she'll go-between, under, over and sideways to make sure that the couple reach that temple on time! Only then can another notch be etched on the "number of marriages that I fixed" scale.
So what do parent's look for in their outlawed son (ie in-law to be)? Financial security (supported by the last three pay slips), of good repute (ie no punch-ups with rival gangs), an education (minimum four GCSEs) and owning a strong body with no hereditary diseases. Similarly, the son's parents also have their requirements specification! Of a sheltered and easily-satisfied home (with no exposure to MTV) followed by competence in housework, a degree in kitchen management studies and a willingness to conform to their pattern of living!
Further to these demands, the arrangees themselves add their own ideals. The lady looks for intellect to feed weekend dinner parties, a broad outlook to ensure a balanced approach, appreciation and practice of sexual equality, kindness, generosity, trust-worthiness, ...and on, and on, and on! Fortunately, the guy's requirements can, for all intensive purposes, be reduced to one; she must be a babe!
With so many variables, constraints and participants involved, it's a real wonder that such projects ever see the light of day, let alone result in an ever-lasting marriage! Nevertheless, they do and there is a sporting chance that the two families will live happily ever after (sometimes this even includes the couple themselves)!
Indeed there is a high probability of AM (Arranged Marriage) occurring in the morning to start a PM (Perfect Marriage) in the afternoon. Well, there is if Aunty Golabo got her sums right!