During my travels through India, the topic of arranged marriages and romantic love kept cropping up as a subject of conversation. The majority of Hindu marriages are still arranged by the parents, although this is changing in larger cities like Pune and Mumbai. However, in Northern India this is still the norm. Here, most of the people never met their bride (or groom) prior to the wedding.
All decisions pertaining to the marriage, beginning with the choice of a partner, to the date and economics of the wedding, are taken by the parents of the respective families. The marriages still must be of the same religion and caste.
Before marriage negotiations take any definite form, individual horoscopes of the boy and girl are evaluated to determine if the couple is suited to each other. These horoscopes are quite elaborate and much more detailed than our Western notions of zodiac signs and astrological compatibility. If the numbers don’t work, the negotiations come to a halt and a new match is sought after.
Were they happy? Some were very much in love proudly showing me photos of their wives and children, while others said they just accept who they have been matched with and make it work.
One of my guides in Jaipur said,
“Here in India there is no love so all our Bollywood movies are about romantic love. In your country you have romantic love so all your movies are action films.”