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Marriages are divine alliance between the two individuals and have to be maintained for the entire life. They portray a bond which unlike business should not be dissolved if any problem arises. Marriages on the other hand make it important to maintain heavenly relationships among the humans and promote peace and love. In this modern world, meaning of marriages has changed all throughout the people making more intense problems to maintain a good relationship among individuals. Even though there are some countries which still follow the traditional ways to make this heavenly bond, there are influences from the western societies and the minds of the people which cause the break-up in relationship and some problems which affect the entire society. In this essay, let us see the trends which have made some huge changes to the cultural marriages in India.
The rich customs and cultural heritage in India make marriages a special occasion for the friends and relatives. The marriages in India have different varieties owing to the different religions that prevail in India. Every different religion has different wedding rituals, methods and way of celebrations. The common feature of Indian marriages is fun and excitement due to the gathering of friends and relatives. The developing India, has liked the changes that were brought to marriages from the recent past. In the olden days, there used to be many rituals and customs that take place in the marriages and the marriages were considered as a heavenly bond between the individuals and the families as whole. Traditionally, the approval by the elders of the families was considered more important than of the individuals. The trend that was prevalent among these Indian marriages is that of the dowry system. Main reasons for the plummeting trend of arranged marriages are that of the problems that are created by the dowry system which affects the entire society. This system demands material gifts from the family of brides for the exchange of the bridegrooms. This trend in this modern India has caused some deaths of the entire family or the bride because of the rising of the demands even after the marriages.
Other trends which had caused some unrest in the society were that of the practice of Sati by the widow women and child marriages. According to the laws, practice of Sati is illegal in modern India but some cases have been reported. This practice of Sati resembled and was followed by the acts performed by Gods and Goddess depicted in the epic writings of Mahabharata. On the other hand, child marriages portray the suppression of choice of the individuals in the field of marriages. This was done in the early days to maintain the status of the upper caste families in marrying peoples from other castes or of religion.
The existence of a society mainly depends on the customs and traditions of the people. These customs remains as a strong pillars in identifying a particular society. Without a tradition or a culture, the man will represent the primitive man from the jungle. This thought urges us to follow a tradition and culture to be respected and make a path of life for the people.
The practice of arranged marriages was performed since the fourth century and it primarily was done to pass on the family tradition and culture from one generation to another. The concept of arranged marriages is liked by the majority of the people in India because the love marriages are not penetrated throughout India. The unlikeliness of love marriages is because it is considered against the Indian culture. Nowadays, both love marriages and arranged marriages are accepted in India. The Indian way of marriages is entirely different from the western way of a marriage where the main difference is the matter of choice of bride or bridegrooms. In the western countries, the couples tend to live together before their marriage which will help them to understand each other in every aspect. But, In India, marriages are planned according to the factors of dowry, caste, age, order of birth among their siblings and the needs of the family to showcase their pride. This tradition which is followed in India causes in inequality to the communities and is also mistreating women in this modern world. About 90% of the Indian marriages are arranged and follow the old tradition of social rituals. Making the individuals in India marry within their caste system bounds them of choices for their likes and also oppresses the ability of women because of the dominant character of men. Marriages are a divine relationship between man and a woman which depends on love, trust and faith between each other. Marriages are celebrated as a festival by the both families to make the couples understand the tradition and value behind the relationship.
Problems of Dowry System
Treatment of women in India has been on a rise since 1920s before which the women were treated poorly and badly making the life tougher to lead. The change mainly occurred due to the modernisation and because of the laws introduced by the Indian government. Even nowadays, the countries in Middle East have restrictions for women to own land, or to come out of the houses. Even the modernisation of the life of people has not changed the aspects of the oppression of women in the world. In India, “dowry deaths”, different form of assault on women and “stove burnings” have become common in India. In India, even the family of a girl tend to show hatred owing to the financial struggle because of the dowry that the girl will bring to the family in the future. This also causes many families to choose unsuitable man for the girl who might have some problems in his health. In India, there are many factors which play an important part in requesting of dowry from the girl's family. One of the factors is that of the age of the woman, which should be less if the dowry needs to be less and vice versa. Taking this into account, many families tend to marry the girls just after the girl reached 21 or 23. The gifts or the dowries that are requested from the bridegrooms perspective also depends on the boys study i.e. higher studies is equal to higher bribes(dowry). In India, dowries range from as little as $2000 to as high as $200,000 with some material gifts and jewels. If the girl's family cannot stick on to the demands of the boy's family, the bridegroom's family might not respect the girl and may exploit and treat her as a maid in the future or may result in dowry deaths. Dowry deaths in India are common and not taken serious by the governments or not bought in to notice. These dowry deaths may make way for the bridegroom to remarry requesting for a better dowry from the other family. The newlyweds in India are the ones who are subject to the “Dowry Deaths”. This aspect of violence is skyrocketing due to the living costs and other rise in costs. According to an investigation, there were about 7000 deaths due to the dowry demanded from the bride's family. Many deaths go un-noticed or reported due to the status of their family and because of the dominant nature of the bridegroom's family.
Other common death prevalent among the Indian marriages due to the dowry systems is that of the “Stove-burnings”. These incidents occur due to the dowry issue or that of the hatred or misconduct with their wife. These are also classified as kitchen accidents but it is false in the real sense. The husbands who commit crime by killing their wife easily get away from law by bribing the police, judges and other people who serve as an evidence for that case. Most of these crimes go un-noticed in India because of the inequality for women. Taking into account the evil deeds of dowry system in India, government has proposed the dowry prohibition act in 1961 which punishes the person taking dowry for imprisonment and fine. If the demand of a particular person is proved in the court of justice, such person is subject to imprisonment for six months and a fine of $500.
A Joint Family System
Until the twelfth century, the Indian couples liked the principle of joint family structure and the concept was a main feature of Indian society. But, nowadays due to the urban influence, this principle started to fade out in many families. This system represents the main feature of the Indian society and had a good reputation for the society as whole. Even in many rural villages, this trend of joint family has been reduced to a great extent. The males in families are subject to leave their native to pursue higher education or for a lucrative job in the metros. The main reason that can be blamed for is that of the industrial growth in many countries which has led to this decline. Other reasons for this decline can also be stated to the increase in divorce rates and urban migration. The people who are financially sound, career oriented and who has the freedom to make their independent decision mainly contributed for this change in the joint family system. This decline in joint families has improved the bond between the couples in many cases and vice versa in some cases. In case of any misunderstanding between the couples have been easily solved if they were in a joint family or the situation could become worse and lead to deaths in other cases.
Other important issue that arise in the Indian marriages is the age of women, where the concept of two people uniting together is side-lined. According to the marriage act of 1986, the idle age for marriages is below 18 for female and below 23 for males. This rule by the government has caused infertility and population growth in India. The population growth in the recent years has called the people of India to go in for a one-child per family policy. This is also a main cause for the gender equality prevailing in the country. Another reason for this gender gap can be pointed out to the act that made abortions legal but, illegal to sex selective abortions. The trend of Indian marriages are changing because of the immigrants who get to foreign countries for work and living. In the past, there were many cultural limitations as women getting separated from the own family system and moving to another system. This system allows the tradition of Indian marriages intact and keeps balance of the shift from immigrants in culture these days. Although there are some laws passed in the past to protect women from oppression or ill-treatment, these customs will still prevail as they are deeply rooted in the minds of people from India.
Nowadays, the trend of marrying a person who is of other caste or other religion is getting common. These changes were mainly due to the social awareness and advancement of the society. These changes arose due to the approval of the love marriage decision which brings happiness to their son's or daughter's life. Although, love marriages are accepted, the final result of the marriage turns out to be an arranged marriage by the approval of the elders in the family. The people of the orthodox family background still follow the tradition of marrying within the caste and religion. The love marriages which are not performed by the approval of the family members may lead to hatred of the each community and may turn in to a riot between the communities or families.
Change of Surnames after marriage
Another important aspect of marriages in India is that of the tradition of changing the surnames of the brides after the marriage. Even though this concept of changing the surnames portrays a male dominated India, it creates a strong feeling of love and togetherness among the couples and the family members. In Hindu mythology, it says that the unique family name brings a feeling of secure and love. It also says that the women are epitome of family's pride and respect and the replacement of the surname depicts the responsibility taken by her in sustaining and improving the family's name in the society. This change also expresses the sacrifice and obedience to the elders in the family. Its main aim is to show the status of the women and show that she belongs to that particular family. Man in the other hand secures his wife and children and leads a happy life in the society. This change helps in securing the family tradition for many generations to come. The women regain her maiden family name if she plans for a divorce from the husband which is the common system around the world. Due to the advancements in the society and the empowerment of women, this wonderful tradition is vanishing in many metros in India. This portrays the women values are on the rise and there are getting more secure in the society by being independent to make their decisions.
Dissolution of marriage
Divorce or dissolution of marriages has been a rare case in the Indian family history. The respect, values and public opinion have made this decision unfeasible in the past. Indian marriages are a sacred bond between the couples of two families and not just an agreement to stay together as liked by the elders in the family. Even in case of torture, pressure and stress from the husband's family or the husband himself have not caused any dissolution keeping in mind the difficulties that the woman has to face in the future. In Hindu culture, virginity of a woman is an important aspect of a marriage and guarded as a respectability of a woman. This makes it difficult for the women for a remarriage after her divorce.
Owing to this entire problem a woman can face in the future, marriages nowadays are just a transfer of a female from one community to another. The sacred moments between the couples are missing and are just a relationship to share some aspects of life. Even though there is a change in shift of the culture, the Indian marriages are strong in every aspect and unlike that in western countries which are very fragile and break for silly reasons. The divorce rates are very rare in Indian society where only one in fifty couples apply for it when compared to four out of ten couples who go in for separation. The divorce rates in the urban India are on a rise owing to the advancements in the society. Government has also made the divorce and remarriage legal by law and have to apply for their separation before the court. The higher rate of divorce in the cities cannot say that the concept of life long marriages are in trouble, it only gives them the freedom to keep away from the unlike that previous generations accepted. The increases in rate of divorces only mean that people are ready to sacrifice their marriage for unsatisfactory relationships. The Muslim law of Sheriat says that it is legal for a Muslim to have multiple wives in India. The government has also recently approved the concept of homosexual marriages in India
Even though India is emerging in all the fields for improvement, its culture of showing inequality for women is still not changed in form of marriages. The dowry system, stove burnings, female foetus abortion ratio all state and remain as an evidence for the issue. Even though these factors are a hindrance to the emerging society, this tradition is important in every means to lead a decent life in India. The empowerment of women has given a new dimension for them to show their talents in many fields. The government has allotted 33% for the women to encourage their ability and prove that women in India are living in a modern era and not that of the times when they were not given permission to study or come out of their houses. This initiative from the government in the past has made India accept the first president after the regime of A.P.J.Abdul Kalam. Even though government has been giving many percentages for women, the tradition of arranged marriages won't change in the coming years. The deed of arranged marriages is also related to the respect and pride got from the close family relatives and friends on regarding the marriage system. In India, almost 90% of the marriages are arranged and successful owing to these positive outcomes, people go by the traditional way of arranging the marriages. The practice of arranged marriages in India cannot be judged as a false idea because of the divorce rates in India are less than 5% of the total marriages and the society is optimistic about these outcomes.