Tag Archive | arranged marriage

Arranged Marriages-old fashioned or contemporary? Part 1

So I got a phone call from my eldest cousin (29) on my fathers side (Sri Lankan) a few weeks ago, he has an important announcement to make.  You wouldn’t believe he was his parents son if you met him. My aunty and uncle couldnt be more traditionally or typically Sri Lankan and he I hate to say it is a ‘coconut’ (brown on the outside but white on the inside, just like me and my sister).

We all know this annoucement has been way over due, his parents have been playing matchmaker for the last 5 years. His education provided an excuse to put off finding a wife but now he has qualified as a chartered accountant and has to face the music. I can’t say I was shocked when he told me his parents found his wife for him. Soon after meeting he was engaged to an American Sri Lankan doctor (exactly what his parents had hoped for). What do you think- is there still a place for arranged marriages in the 21st century?

The topic of arranged marriages is quite a contenscious issue, and led me to write the following feature a few months ago.


Boxer Amir Khan, 25, recently showcased his bride-to-be Faryal Makhdoom, 20, at his lavish engagement party. Amir is Britain’s youngest Olympic boxer medallist, and is celebrated in both the East and the West for his boxing achievements. Despite his British upbringing Amir still follows his Pakistani traditions and has chosen to have an arranged marriage.

Amir with fiancee Faryal Makhmood

It is a practice that is often associated with strict, religious families, however increasing numbers of modern Asian Brits are opting to leave the match-making to their elders (or a third party.)

Arranged marriage is largely practiced within South Asian, African and Middle Eastern culture. Not to be confused with ‘forced marriage’, many of today’s matrimonial arrangements in the UK are “introductory only”, in which a potential couple, (who many have otherwise not met), will meet in the presence of both families.

The process places emphasis on socio-economic factors: religion, compatibility and marriage stability. Physical attraction and love are viewed as secondary. There are no official statistics, however it is estimated that in India 90-95 per cent of marriages are arranged. Although there is a steady increase, India has one of the lowest divorce rates in the World.

Sena Rasool, 23, from Hounslow had an unconventional arranged marriage in 2008. Sena married electrician Rizwan, 26, after meeting on popular Muslim matrimonial website Shaddi.com. “Practically everyone’s marriage in my family has been arranged, I never questioned if I would be the same,” she said.

As the purpose of marriage in South Asian culture is ultimately to procreate, for many parents it is the most important decision they can make for their children. The tradition of multiple generations living under one roof is still prominent in the UK. Therefore the extended family have an input in choosing the ideal partner. This network of family matchmakers is known as the ‘aunty’ network.

Posted by Sheela


Arranged Marriages-old fashioned or contemporary? Part 2

After completing her A-levels Sena met three potential suitors her parents had chosen for her. “It was awkward meeting the families. They were nice enough, but it just didn’t feel right”. She said. Sena understood her parent’s intentions when they took a “hands-on” approach to her marriage, but felt the tradition needed updating. “I wanted to meet someone that I had chosen myself, but someone that lived up to my parents’ expectations too.” she said.

“I signed up to the site with specific criteria in mind and Riz ticked every box.” Sena said. The website gave Sena a virtual meeting room in which she could choose to get to know an individual without the pressure of her family. “I made sure my family would approve of Riz before we even met. I viewed his profile and liked what I saw and it just went from there.” she said.

After a few weeks of instant messaging Sena told her parents about her potential husband. “It’s not the usual way it happens, but Riz’s family are from the same caste, he has a good job and plenty to offer- Riz was what they had been looking for.” Sena said. The couple have been married for almost four years and are expecting their second child in April.

There has been an influx in matrimonial websites like Shaddi.com in the last few years. Naomi Grossman of the Indian Tribune highlighted the boom in similar websites in India. She said: “South Asians don’t necessarily want to follow the traditional paths such as arranged marriages. They are increasingly using online dating and matrimonial sites that cater to members of their community effectively allowing the web to be the matchmaker they need”.

Online dating may be “a modern twist on an old tradition”. Sociology Professor of Bradford University who has studied Muslim marriage, Yunas Samad said “It’s (online dating) a halfway house, not completely traditional and not completely the same as what is happening in British society.”

Hafiz (Muslim that has memorized Qu’ran), Mohammed Abdel-Moneim is a trusted member of the Muslim community in South Wales, and has assisted with marriage introductions. He said “It is personal choice, for some people arranged marriage is a safer option-their parents have their best interests at heart. Their choice isn’t blinded by infatuation or lust.”

Posted by Sheela

Arranged Marriages old fashioned or contemporary? Part 3

Although an advocate for the tradition, Mohammed said “Unfortunately there are cases of individuals; not necessarily being forced into marriage, but they face massive pressure from their family to marry who has been chosen for them. Family honour is a key issue here.” Mohammed believes that although the custom is evolving with the times, young men have more of a voice than young women when marriage is concerned.

There are no official statistics as arranged marriages are not differentiated from personal choice marriages anywhere in the world. However, the divorce rate of arranged marriage is significantly lower with an estimated 5-7 per cent divorce rate compared to 50 per cent (personal choice marriage) in the US.

Critics argue that the low divorce rate in arranged marriages is mainly due to community pressure, and fear of being disowned which prevents unhappy couples divorcing. This is uncertain as divorce is still very much a taboo subject within South Asian culture today.

Whatever the reason may be, one thing is for certain- a growing number of career minded British Asians are seeking arranged marriages; whether it be online, via speed dating or the ‘aunty’ network.

Posted by Sheela

Too busy for love?

Calling all ladies!

It’s not easy being a a second generation South Asian female. We are constantly reminded about how our parents or parents parents came to the UK with miniscule amounts of money (in my case my dad came to London with £30), and managed to build a life for themselves through a hard work ethic and strong set of values. We have a lot to live up to, “your generation has it too easy” is something that I have heard more than enough times.  We are grinding our fingers to the bone getting qualified and building a career- you would think that would be enough to keep our elders happy? Well they are not.

Not only do we have to contend with the pressures of work, we are constantly under pressure to find a husband and settle down. Bringing feminism into it isn’t an option. I tell my parents, my mother especially that we aren’t back home and marrying in you 30’s isnt something to be ashamed of. She simply replies with “You don’t want people to think you have been left on the shelf”. So I, like many other career focused British Asian females are unsuccesfully juggling my career and personal life, whilst trying to stick to my Asian traditions and culture.

They think we are superwoman, and not ones to dissapointed our families, this blog is for all Bollywood babes. It just may help you on your quest to balance career, culture, and commitment or even just provide a space for you to share your thoughts.

Your Love Gurus

Sheela & Prerna


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