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.
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