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04/16/2014

The Indian wedding for Dummies - 2. Finding a suitor

The "Indian wedding" (I should say the Hindu wedding to be exact) has made the subject of numerous books, movies, visits to India. In short it’s an institution. I will try here to understand something to it!

When it is decided to put such son or such daughter on the market, the family prepare a resume and letter of motivation – I'm not kidding, my ex-boyfriend was super happy when he received a spontaneous application even though 1. He was not officially “available” for marriage and 2. He thought his reputation was ruined because he was dating a foreigner.

Then they activate social networks (and here I am not speaking of facebook but of the original networks, which have incredible proportions among Indians, who are able to talk to anyone anywhere and make friends in five minutes.

There is also the tradition of the nayan, the matchmaker (source) It is usually a friend or a distant relative, neutral, having a talent as a recruiter (to find the unique one) and as a negotiator (to succeed in having both parties agreeing to the “terms” of the marriage (although the dowry is illegal in India since 1961, it is commonplace that the family “buys” the guy – I gift you a nice car if (please, please, please) you marry my daughter).

They also publish matrimonial ads in newspapers:

india,marriage,wedding,arranged marriage,forced marriage,love marriage,rites,ceremonies,rituals,divorce,sheet,mehndi,henna,baraat,sex,incompatibility,contract,classifieds,matrimonials,matchmaker,nayan,astrologers,horoscope,marry a tree,marry a pot,auspicious,date,joint family,kama sutra

 Today they also register on marriage websites.

The family astrologer is also involved. While we are at it, you should know that in India, the astrologer isn't considered as a charlatan but rather as a pillar in the life of every good Hindu: birth first, marriage then (that's why on invitation cards, the time is very precise, like 9:46 AM; is not a typo mistake but the exact time when the starts will cross path!) and then at any other important moment. For instance, one of my best managers shifted his interview for a few days, so that the planets would be aligned. So be it. Hindus even grant astrologers with the benefit of mistakes and don’t hesitate to consult several experts to get the real truth. Astrologers are also a bit magicians because when the alignment is messed up, they have the chance to correct it. So sometimes the horoscopes of a couple don’t match and the horoscope the bride predicts that her first husband will die young (she is called manglik). The trick is to marry her to a tree or an earthen pot, which then are destroyed (or immerged for the second), leaving her a widow, and free to remarry without bringing bad luck to her human husband. It has happened to some of my friends... And here's a great post by an Indian blogger on this rite (pdf) and incidentally on all her experiences as a modern dating Indian girl (blog).

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