Thursday, January 24, 2013

Re-thinking arranged marriages and the price of gold ... by gimleteye

Arranged marriages are prevalent in India. With divorce rates in the United States much higher, one begins to wonder. How many marriages are unhappy in each country? No statistics, there. In the United States, would the overall good to the society through the institution of marriage be harmed or otherwise further damaged than if the selection of mates were performed as a family function?

In India, "love" marriages are gaining traction, especially in the cities where economic opportunities take children far from families and historic boundaries. I hadn't given much thought to the question, being a liberal who stumbled and fumbled through a series of relationships until marrying the woman I love. On the other hand, visiting here and speaking with a number of women who frankly talked about both the process of their own arranged marriage and their contentment. "It is all about adjustment," one sage said to me. And who can argue with that?

Of course, we are all familiar with the counter-stories of arranged marriage -- of cruelty, misery, and loss. But it occurred -- thinking how I essentially agree with the conservative assertion that personal responsibility begins with education, families and parenting -- that perhaps we have something to learn from India.

Here is a photo, taken at a Hindu temple in Madurai. At least in this city, (about double the size of Miami) when a bride enters her husband's family -- taking with her a suitable dowry -- all contact with her own family is cut off for a two month period. After the two months, both families meet in the temple to exchange news. That is what is happening here. This was likely, according to our guide, the first contact she had with her mother since the marriage ceremony. Sitting in a circle, the mother adds a piece of gold to her child's dowry, threading a nugget onto a bracelet (and presumably earning the additional respect of the mother-in-law). It's not a good photograph, but this blog isn't National Geographic. It looked to me about an ounce of gold, and an example how consumption of gold by families in India has kept its price around $1600 an ounce.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see you encountered the magic traditions and customs of India

WOOF said...

The ugly consequence of an inadequate dowry.
"In 2010, 8391 dowry death cases were reported across India, meaning a bride was burned every 90 minutes, according to statistics recently released by the National Crime Records Bureau."