Why I’ve Decided to Get an Arranged Marriage

South Indian man putting gajra in his wifes hair

In Part 6 of our series “Help! I’m 30, Tamil… and Not Married”, Vidhurah shares her thoughts on modern arranged marriage.

Whenever I tell my friends that I’ve thought about getting married to a guy that my parents will pick for me, I always get the same response.

“Wait a minute, an arranged marriage!?”

“But why? Aren’t you worried!?”

“Last I checked it’s not the 1900s.”

Etcetera, etcetera.

They’re right, it’s definitely not the 1900s anymore. Times are changing and society is moving forward.

Like any other woman, when I was younger I was adamant about being in a love marriage – falling in love and getting married with or without my parents’ approval was the dream, just like in the movies. Of course my parents continuously squashed that idea right out of my head.

I still remember that one day a few years ago when we went out for a lovely family dinner like we do every few weeks. Of course I, being the petulant child that I sometimes am, brought up the topic of matrimony and asked my parents outright why they wanted me to have an arranged marriage. That’s right, I came straight out and asked them. Shocker, right? But I can tell you now that this was the most informative conversation I have ever had with my parents in all my 20-something years of life.

“We just want a happy life for you,” my dad explained to me. I told him that I knew this. Every father dreams of a content life for his children.

“But it’s my life. I’m the one getting married, so I should decide who I marry,” I argued back. As a born and bred Canadian, the whole concept of an arranged marriage was unsettling to me.

What I did not understand was how much my parents truly worried about my future. They were concerned that maybe in my immaturity I would fall in love with the wrong guy, make bad decisions, and do something stupid that I would regret for the rest of my life.

In the South Asian community, marriage is a big deal. It is a sacred pact between man, woman and God that is honoured for a lifetime. Divorce is rare. Once you’re in it, you’re in it for life. In a Hindu marriage, a crucial part of the pact is the parents. A marriage is not just the union of a man and a woman – it is the union of two families. The parents of the couple are just as important as the couple themselves.

Upon realizing this, I understood why my parents would be concerned if I entered into a love marriage where I chose the man I would marry. They were worried that our families would not be compatible. In an arranged marriage, they would be certain that the match would be good for all parties involved. It sounds very much like a contract, doesn’t it? Terms like parties, arrangement and signatures are plentiful. I couldn’t believe that the sanctity of marriage was torn apart by something like a contract, so I delved into my own research.

The more I learned about the traditions of my culture, the more I realized that our marriages are both a contract and a sacred journey across lifetimes. In an arranged marriage, couples are matched based on their horoscopes and numerology. When you are born, every single element matters: the date of birth, the time of birth, the direction you were facing when you were born, the position of the planets, which stars were the brightest – every tiny detail was recorded.

This data, after being organized into a chart, is kept with the family as the child grows and becomes a young man or woman ready to tie the knot. Their charts are then compared with others to be matched, and the best one is always a happy and prosperous union. I believe that these matches are the souls of two lovers from past lifetimes to be reunited again. Hinduism believes in reincarnation. So maybe God places us in a certain place at a certain time for us to be able to find our true match again in our current lives.

I thought about the pitfalls of this method. What if the match my parents found for me wasn’t truly my soulmate? What if the man who is truly my other half isn’t from a family that would be compatible with mine? I argued with my parents for a long time before I realized that they were right in their own way. I have made terrible choices before, so what prevents me from making more in the future? Or perhaps a part of me doubts my abilities to find the “right” guy.

Arranged marriage used to be a huge deal for me until I had this discussion with my parents. That was when I realized that an arranged marriage isn’t the end of the world. So what if I don’t like him? I can just say no if I realize that we’re not suited for each other. I’m sure that I would be allowed this freedom, even if our charts were a close match.

After a few weeks of chewing the idea over in my mind, I brought the subject up again with my mom.

“If I go ahead with your whole arranged marriage thing, I have a few conditions,” I said to her. Firstly, I wanted plenty of time before the wedding to get to know the guy I would be hitched to for the rest of my life. Secondly, I wanted to at least have a few options in case one didn’t work out. Thirdly, I definitely did not want a huge age difference between us – this scenario has happened so often in my extended family that I was frightened of it being passed down to me. As I stated these conditions out loud, I realized it made me sound a little shallow – it was like picking the best cow of the lot to make the most delicious burger.

“Of course all of that goes without saying,” my mom replied without batting an eye. I felt like I had misunderstood them all this time. Whenever I thought of an arranged marriage, I had this grotesque image of being forced to wed someone who didn’t respect or love me. I thought that my parents were being unfair and stifling. Only then did I realize that I was just being an idiot.

My parents told me that their own marriage was an arranged one, but I know that they have grown to truly love each other overtime. To this day, I sometimes catch them holding hands while taking a walk on warm summer evenings or snuggling on the couch paying idle attention to a made-for-TV movie. Their marriage has given me hope and their love has given me faith.

Now, I wonder if I should completely trust my parents and place my future in their hands. And yet I can’t help but wonder – if I’m ever in a situation where I happen to find my soulmate myself, would they understand and learn to accept him too?

Looking to create your love story? Join the other couples who have dated and married through myTamilDate.com!

* * * * *

In Part 1 of our series “Help! I’m 30, Tamil… and Not Married”, Sanjiv opines on the growing number of unmarried Tamils.
In Part 2, “So You’re 30 and Still Single? Don’t Blame Tamil Women”, Sriram shares a contrary perspective.
In Part 3, “Single, Tamil, Female… And I’m Divorced”, Niluja reveals her perspective as a divorced Tamil woman.
In Part 4, “Self-Arranged Marriage: The New Tamil Trend”, Jana discusses the growing “self-arranged marriage” phenomenon in the Tamil community.
In Part 5, “How to Find a Husband”, a guest writer shares advice for Tamil women.
In Part 7, “So You Won’t Be Marrying a Tamil Girl?”, Penn E. shares his thoughts on the challenges and idiosyncrasies of interracial relationships.

Want to share your input? E-mail us at editor@tamilculture.ca. We will get back to you shortly.

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Vidhurah Perinpanathan

Vidhurah Perinpanathan

Reader. Writer. All around dreamer.

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41 thoughts on “Why I’ve Decided to Get an Arranged Marriage

  1. LOLOLOL !! i would post one of my mini weird stickers here but its not letting me :’)

  2. Daniel Vijayakumar scroll through the article..they feature your song U0001f60aU0001f60a

  3. There are two types of Tamils who “resort” to arranged marriage today.
    1. Those who’ve dated around and see arranged marriage as a fallback option (mostly Tamil girls).
    2. Those who’ve been unsuccessful on the open dating market, and for whom arranged marriage is the only hope they have of securing a spouse (mostly unattractive/nerdy Tamil guys).
    So what happens when #1 encounters #2 in such a setup? It’s not likely to work.
    Arranged marriage worked for our parents and grandparents’ generation because cultural constraints kept a leash on men and especially women’s freedoms. Thus, both partners entered the marriage arrangement with no relationship history, no sexual history and no previous baggage. Arranged marriage can work successfully in such a context.
    But what happens when this model is adapted today to the West, where we have carte blanche and a complete dating free-for-all? Naturally there will be asymmetry in the level of experience of both partners entering this arrangement.
    Assuming both partners are transparent and don’t lie about their pasts, a virgin Tamil guy is not going to enter an arranged marriage with a Tamil woman with a sexual history. A Tamil woman with previous boyfriends won’t feel any attraction to a virgin Tamil guy, and would be repulsed by his inexperience and awkwardness.
    If this union miraculously does form, naturally jealousy and insecurity issues will arise and ghosts of boyfriends/girlfriends past will come to haunt the marriage. In fact, this is a leading cause of the rising divorce rate among Tamils today.
    So while I admire the author’s naive optimism, I question whether such an arrangement can really work in modern times.

  4. There are two types of Tamils who “resort” to arranged marriage today.
    1. Those who’ve dated around and see arranged marriage as a fallback option (mostly Tamil girls).
    2. Those who’ve been unsuccessful on the open dating market, and for whom arranged marriage is the only hope they have of securing a spouse (mostly unattractive/nerdy Tamil guys).
    So what happens when #1 encounters #2 in such a setup? It’s not likely to work.
    Arranged marriage worked for our parents and grandparents’ generation because cultural constraints kept a leash on men and especially women’s freedoms. Thus, both partners entered the marriage arrangement with no relationship history, no sexual history and no previous baggage. Arranged marriage can work successfully in such a context.
    But what happens when this model is adapted today to the West, where we have carte blanche and a complete dating free-for-all? Naturally there will be asymmetry in the level of experience of both partners entering this arrangement.
    Assuming both partners are transparent and don’t lie about their pasts, a virgin Tamil guy is not going to enter an arranged marriage with a Tamil woman with a sexual history. A Tamil woman with previous boyfriends won’t feel any attraction to a virgin Tamil guy, and would be repulsed by his inexperience and awkwardness.
    If this union miraculously does form, naturally jealousy and insecurity issues will arise and ghosts of boyfriends/girlfriends past will come to haunt the marriage. In fact, this is a leading cause of the rising divorce rate among Tamils today.
    So while I admire the author’s naive optimism, I question whether such an arrangement can really work in modern times.

  5. Also, back in our parents time not many women pursued further education nor sought careers, so when they turned a certain age they were expected to marry. They did not really have a choice back then. They were expected to stay in a marriage despite any problems and if they had left their husbands, they would have to go back to their parents as they would not have been able to support themselves financially and independently. They would have also been chastised by the Tamil community for doing such a thing even if it was not their fault. It does not only affect them, but their whole family as well. Even though the marriages lasted longer statistically, some of the marriages were not always happy ones. One does not know what happens behind closed doors and appearances can be deceptive. Nowadays the younger generation have more choice and freedom, but some take it for granted or take advantage of it.

  6. You don’t often see  cultural Tamil Hindu girls./guys even born in the west slooting it up, hanging out in clubs, being a mess etc…Normally raised in a strict home with moral values. they are more spiritual. most of them smarter than your average insta/fb/twitter sheep sloot.

    Gonna be my next wifey! Well Tamil to be precise but close enough! Sick of the Bullchit with western women and their fuarked up drama. Also at my age the best I am gonna do in this society is a 28-40 year old milf sloot with about 3 kids. With an Tamil  bride from the actual country I can get a young hot looking VIRGIN honey between the ages of 18-21. As OP says, sex whenever I want, clean house, cooked food, no being questioned about my whereabouts when I get home. The perfect deal. Only a fool would turn down something like that!
    In fact right now I am having my grandfather and some other relatives find me a bride (SRS). We are DAMNED lucky to have an Tamil background and have this option. I am going to utilize it

  7. Not just Sri Lankan Tamil men, also some other Asian men too. In some cases, Asian men are not bothered about dowry. Most of the time, it is their parents demanding the dowry from the woman’s family. There are also other men from different ethnicities (not just Asian) who marry western women for citizenship or for money.

  8. that’s true…but brought up in a ,multiracial country( where chinese, malays , indonesians, indians, sri lankan tamils) …i never heard any of my family members or friends being forced for dowry…..until I myself stepped in sri lankan went through hell and watched many many women go through the same just because of the greed of money..all i can conclude about sri lanka and their men or family is their interest for money whatever the circumstances are…which other asian men or family practices dowry? Indians? but maybe but not in this disgusting manner

  9. “In the South Asian community, marriage is a big deal. It is a sacred pact between man, woman and God that is honoured for a lifetime. Divorce is rare. Once you’re in it, you’re in it for life.”…. LOL HAHAHAHA
    That’s because in most South Asian marriages, women did not have a choice. Your mom, my mom, my cousin’s mom married labels (caste,religion,race,social status) and bore kids to those labels. There was a guy to support them financially and kids kept them occupied. Divorce means, they’d have to support themselves and there is no social network/ safety for women above 30 in South Asia. You’re a complete outsider in the community, and it only gets bad as you get older when your brother and father cannot take care of you. There’s plenty of aunties who still tolerate their cheating husbands, abusive alcoholic husbands because they know they don’t have any alternative.

  10. This is what ethnic enclaves does to you. You sound like my cousins in tanjore. Progressive.

  11. You’ve made a lot of broad generalizations:
    “Those who’ve dated around and see arranged marriage as a fallback option (mostly Tamil girls)….
    Those who’ve been unsuccessful on the open dating market, and for whom arranged marriage is the only hope they have of securing a spouse (mostly unattractive/nerdy Tamil guys).”
    I wasn’t aware unattractive and nerdy were qualities that went hand in hand–isn’t a higher standard of education what many look for in an arranged marriage? And what makes you worthy of deciding who is and isn’t unattractive?
    And then you wrote this gem:
    “Assuming both partners are transparent and don’t lie about their pasts, a virgin Tamil guy is not
    to enter an arranged marriage with a Tamil woman with a sexual history. A Tamil woman with previous boyfriends won’t feel any attraction to a virgin Tamil guy, and would be repulsed by his inexperience and awkwardness.”
    Are you really so naïve to believe that generations past walk in with NO sexual experience, or as you put it, “baggage” into their marriages?
    History is not linear. Our generation did not discover sex. In fact there are many studies attesting to this generation of adults having the LEAST amount of sex.
    Who are you to decide that a man will refuse a woman who has had a “sexual history”? Who are you to decide that a woman would be “repulsed by his inexperience and awkwardness”? YOU are the one perpetuating harmful stereotypes–insinuating a person’s worth lays on their sexuality and sexual past.
    Your whole commentary sounds like you’re quite bitter about people who are sexually active. Do not place your personal qualms with virginity, or lack thereof with everyone else’s personal values.
    You’ve got one thing right however-her article is naïve. Ie, “Divorce is rare.” Ha. Her article is written the way Columbus discovered the Americas-many of us are already aware that arranged marriage is a worthy option to pursue and have been doing so for decades. It is not news that an arranged marriage is an excellent path for many-basically a blind date set up by your parents instead of your friends.
    There are OTHER aspects of arranged marriages in our community that are problematic: ie. shadeism, casteism, etcetera–none of which were addressed by this article or you.

  12. Dear Lex chill chill. Our generation did not find sex but we found the Internet. We made porn accessible. We got dates through an app. ( tinder hello!!!). We are definitely lot more sexual than our dads generation that wrote love letters.

  13. Virginity and female virginity especially is a big thing among both Tamils and general society. In Tamil culture, women especially are often expected to be chaste until marriage and a virgin until their wedding night. There are also examples of historical women figures held up as virtuous for being chaste and pure virgins. If you read Ramayana, female sexual purity is one of the main themes, so that has been part of Tamil culture for millenia.
    I understand some historical reasons for this. In the past, a woman who stays chaste until marriage removes any doubt of the child not belonging to her husband.
    What about now? Why are women often still sought after to be virgins until marriage? I can see how this may offer emotional protection, but surely that can’t be the only reason. Is it because of the idea that a woman (or even a man) must only form such a bond with the one they marry? Are “chaste” women considered to be better wives because they only have their husband on their minds?
    In the diaspora, perhaps virginity is part & parcel of a general protectionism aimed at Tamil children. The sense of fragility that immigration can often endow in our parents can be exacerbated by fears of us becoming “Westernised”. Having continents, your way of life, your class position shifted can really scare our parents. So knowing where we are, what we’re doing, who we’re friends with, what our future is – virginity and romantic entanglements could be another symptom of the aforementioned protectionism.
    I use general terms because in my experience the restrictive or worrying attitudes towards dating extends to both Tamil boys and girls, but it is heightened for women (the focus of the discussion). Whether it is equating femininity with fragility, or experience with predatory patriarchy (“we know what men are like”), there can be an acute concern for daughters.

  14. I feel like this article is reinforcing the fact that you shouldn’t trust your own judgement. So what if you’ve made mistakes in the past? Isn’t that what life is about? Learning & growing? This makes it seem like, if you’ve made mistakes in the past – don’t trust yourself. Go to your parents – just so you have someone else to blame for mistakes in your life. Sad.

  15. That mindblown moment when u realise an intact hymen is such a great deal than marrying someone for compatibility. *slow clap*

  16. ^ it’s not about the hymen. Women who had sex/lost their virginity tend to be more emotionally off. At least from my experience. I don’t care about the hymen. It’s the whole bitter woman I can’t handle. I am not a psychotherapist, I want to be a husband.

  17. I never knew arranged marriage was a thing now a days, i always considered it a little out dated… Or it’s just reserved for the rich and successful man and pretty young women.
    I’m sure there’s more categories.but if i’d love to see my mom’s choice in men. it would definitely be interesting ! i’m only 24 though, and don’t plan on marrying anytime soon.

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