Monday, April 05, 2010

In praise of "seeing...."

There is something to be said for "seeing sessions" . As a prerequisite for arranged marriages.

About 30-35 years ago, when families heard about the impending arrival of some one's son from a wonderful job , be it overseas, or even in another Indian city, several wheels within wheels would start moving as far as parents of eligible girls were concerned. Cousins abroad were contacted, old classmates were pressed into service, family connections were explored, and everything possible was done, to find out the antecedents of the boy.

Boys parents would typically receive formal "letters of possible intention of matrimony" with photographs of the girl, highlighting how simply wonderful she was. These letters were perused, analysed, checked for veracity by various means, and the parents of the boy would normally reply.

If the boy was yet to arrive, the thing to do was to ask for the girls horoscope. Some smart parents of girls would also ask for the horoscope of the boy. Which was, interestingly not always given, as a prerogative and proof of the slightly higher societal level attributed to the boys side.

While some communities treat the horoscope, as the final decision maker, particularly in the South, it was actually used in these cases, for avoiding an undesired match.

I have known folks who maintained an actual file of such letters, complete with inward date and number, photograph, sundry details , special notable facts, education, skills, and of course , overall comments from the boy and his family. If the initial reaction was not favourable, the easy way out was to send a very nice letter praising the girl, but regretting greatly, that the horoscopes did not match. This method ensured that the concerned photos and horoscopes went back to the correct party.

Subsequent to the boys arrival, there would be several tea meetings, perhaps a few with the boy and girl getting to spend some time together, often with a little brother, as a bored chaperon.

The reason I mention this is to indicate the various checks and balances that happen in organizing an arranged marriage, where families are checked out, fellows /girls are investigated and so on.

Papers today are full of the Sania Mirza-Shoaib Mallik marriage stories, which get more and more complicated day by day.

The man seems to illogically swing between 2 extremes.

He at first follows a system where he has a relationship from Pakistan to Hyderabad(India) via post and photographs . When he speaks to who he thinks is the girl, it is actually someone else. But he doesn't know that. Neither does he suspect anything when time and again, on his visits to Hyderabad (to meet her), she is away, in hospital, out of the country and so on. When he supposedly goes for his own marriage, the captain of the Pakistan cricket team accompanies him in the car in Hyderabad. Now he says he was tricked, he got married over the telephone, and is being troubled by the girl's family. (The girl's family confirms they were married, and strangely, Shoaib Mallik refuses to continue the marriage because the girl has put on weight, and this embarrasses him!) .

Did he ever hear of video phones, conference calls, video conferencing, webcams and the like ?

Cut to 2009-2010, and he has a modern romance across Australia and Dubai, with Sania Mirza, and announces his impending marriage to her . There is news about apartments in Dubai, expenses in millions, five star receptions, and Page 3 guests.

Inexplicably, Mallik lands up in Hyderabad. And they slap a case on him for cheating. It is terribly unclear as to who is cheating who. He could have stayed in Dubai, and got married there to Sania, since that was to be their home anyway. His religion allows him 4 wives.

So why did Sania Mirza's family not check out his antecedents ? His matrimonial history as such? Something they would have scrupulously observed had this been an arranged match. There are video clips from a few years ago, where he is shown accepting some cricket award after a match saying it was more wonderful as it was his wife's city.

There are questions about telephone marriages, Net marriages. Not valid in Pakistan, but possibly allowed by the Indian Muslim Law Board. How do you decide whose rules apply, when one party is in Pakistan, and the other in India ?

Maybe we will now have Orkut marriages, Facebook marriages, and Twitter marriages. There is also suddenly a question , about why all the fuss, since Mallick's religion allows him 4 wives, simultaneously. If his presumed first wife is asking for a divorce, which is actually 3 words pronounced by him within certain boundary conditions, why doesn't he just give it and become free and unencumbered, as he gets ready to marry Sania ?

All this has the makings of an interesting Hindi movie, maybe even a suspense movie.

Maybe he should have just done it the old way, his parents sending letters to Sania's parents, with a proper proposal. A lot of muck that's being thrown around today would have dissolved under the family scrutiny procedures on both sides.

I suppose they don't have horoscopes. And all those letters from parents and the replies would make for excellent documentation in such a case.

The only thing is, the guy has been banned from cricket for a year. So he has lots of time to sit and sort out this very troublesome issue.

Maybe there was something to the arranged marriages of old, after all......


  1. What this Maliks and Mirzas do or dont do concerns me the least !

    Weight reduction...well, thats the crux of the story ! Whatsay ! :)

    On a more serious note, the practices of the yesteryears seem to hold so much relevance although seemign antiquated ! Life evolves. Somethings just get dropped ! Some new things get picked up.

  2. Interesting take on the S-S saga that.

    I've always felt I missed out on all the tamasha, having married someone I knew I didn't have to go though the shortlisting, screening...

    As I get older, I find myself appreciating tradition more and resisting custom less

  3. oh, speaking of old traditions, how about a blogpost on the maharashtrian tradition of Rukhwat? Suranga, I would love to see you write something on this! I think it was an interesting and sometimes strange tradition, that has disappeared completely!

  4. sigh... good old arranged marriages.... i remember my mother doing it for my sister... and I had to help her which I found very irritating :)

  5. I guess Sania's earlier shot at marriage was what we would call an 'arranged' one. They knew the boy, knew the family but even after all that they realised that they had 'compatibility' issues.

  6. That's what puzzles me Suranga, why doesn't he just divorce her?

  7. kavi isnt it amazing the S and S show has managed to throw the womens bill, RTE act, mumbai's water woes etc from the front pages ?

    Arundhati Actually all this seeing in arranged marriages is nothing but the same stuff that happens in so called love-marriages, but time-compressed. The latter still has you check the fellow/girl out, talk to your friends, enlist their help, ascertain his family background etc, but all this done at your own pace over years.

    Ananva Good suggestion, thank you. Will work on that.....

    Ramblingsbybones Rukhwat is a sort of display of stuff during weddings, mostly of the stuff the bride is bringing with her. This has no monetary/dowry/compulsion aspect , but is a way of highlighting the talents of the girl going to a new family. Will do a blog post on this soon...

    Shilpa We had some amazing Rukhwat ideas in my time and earlier. All you modern types are surely missing out on this :-)

    namya This whole Sania -Shoaib thing is going from bad to worse. Why not just quietly run away and get married , in the highest tradition of Hindi movies ? :-)

    IHM You know what, I actually feel this thing is being played out in public for garnering some kind of planned visibility at a time when there isnt much future left in sports for both. I have a feeling that a week later , there will be all kinds of apologies and things thrown around, The Ayeshas and Mahas will possibly be richer in the bargain, the two will get married with or without divorce(possible even today). What a useless mess !

  8. It seems i have been away from home for a very long time!!! This is the first I am hearing of this SS saga.

    I still cant get over it!!! He dumped her because she put on weight!!!! Thank God I am a Hindu...... I would get dumped a lot!!!!!

    Arranged marriages are a torture I almost ran out of mine that too in wedding clothes!!! The Hindu weddings give a lot of bhav to the boys side and in my case they left no stone unturned to harrass me and my family.

    I am so glad I am married and am a Hindu. I cant go thru all that again.

  9. "So why did Sania Mirza's family not check out his antecedents?" -

    What makes you think they didn't? :)

  10. I am bowled over, if I have to say so in cricketing parlance. Very well written and just enjoyed it. I am thinking of the plight of Sania and where she has landed herself.Life just happens and Sania is just gazing around. Shoaib claims innocence, can Sania follow suit?

  11. very interesting take indeed...while reading the post; the initial part reminded me of a post I had written - Wedding Proposals..

    and all this ho-hulla about Mallik and Sania issue - it is completely uncalled for..we have more pressing issue to tackle with; than this S S story..but Media is simply going gaga over this unnecessarily..

    on a completely different note; the Talaq process is not so simple either..yes he can pronounce it thrice; but it wil take one whole year for it to be official as per the law books..

    but as you mentioned; he does have one year..he is totally vella :)

  12. As you rightly wrote, with webcams and video conferencing, how did he get married to the wrong girl ????

    Now after getting married - there are so much proof - why cant he give a divorce, if that is what the girl wants ????

  13. Oh, the S -S saga, or is it an epic? why is sania being so myopic?(i guess her vision is blinded by love and it needs to be immidiate restoration)
    For some more extrapolation on teh entire issue, pl do visit my blog at :

  14. Ranu Welcome back. And yes , the papers have nothing else to write about. The more I hear, the more I think the fellow should go back ASAP to Pakistan and stay there. Though I feel almost everyone is hiding something here...:-)

    Manju True. But sometimes an inordinately fast rise to the top, makes entire families blind to ground realities.

    nsiyer Thank you. But the whole thing is playing out like a Hindi Bollywood movie right now. Difficult to believe anyone. Particularly, the fellow Shoaib.

    Neha Good to get a legal perspective of the Talaq stuff from you. That 1 year ban seems to be timely ...

    umsreflections , kirti Sometimes i suspect the real story is something else all together. An money is probably at the root of it. Who knows ? And , honestly, who cares ?

  15. How can you have a telephonic wedding in this age? And then say you married the wrong girl?

  16. radha Who says they are educated ? My household help, S. has more sense than all of them...