Saturday, January 22, 2011

Girls unite! Nothing to lose but your chains!

by Janaki Krishnan

I am a regular reader of the Tamil magazine Mangayar Malar (you can find it in the bookstands at Matunga, but most Tamil people in Mumbai have it home-delivered).

Mangayar Malar is a women's magazine that covers various topics - real life anecdotes, interviews of successful people, religion, recipes, etc. Among the most popular sections is a monthly forecast (using rashis). There is also a matrimonial column.

Mangayar Malar - Dec 2010 issue

Among the many real-life stories in the magazine, there was one story about a Brahmin priest from a small village. This priest has four sons, ages 45, 42, 39 and 32 respectively. All four sons are unmarried, and the priest has been having a hard time finding a match for any of them.

The priest bemoans the fact that no one is willing to marry his sons, although they are good men. Girls want money and status, according to the priest, whereas his sons can only offer a simple village life.

Kanyiar Manam Maruma - will girls change their minds?

The writer of the article has invited comments from readers, asking whether we are now living in an India where girls want material pleasures more than anything else. Why are today's Indian girls chasing money, asks the writer. Do they not know that a happy marriage is not about material things? Or is it that today's girls are educated, have jobs of their own, and are therefore increasingly unwilling to get married?

Thirumana Malar - the "marriage special" section of Mangayar Malar

The writer's questions set me thinking about my recent experiences in the "marriage market". In my spare time these days, I help my friends in matching the horoscopes of their sons or daughters with prospective brides or bridegrooms.

Once the horoscopes are matched, the girl and the boy talk to each other. Here are some of the questions that girls are asking before accepting the boy:

1) After marriage, are we going to live with your parents? (a good question in space-starved Mumbai!)

2) Will you look after my parents in their old age? (especially when she is the only daughter)

3) Shall I give a part of my salary to my parents after marriage (probably for repayment of a PF Loan that the father has taken for meeting wedding expenses!)

At the end of the day, I feel this is a positive trend in our society. All these years it was a man's world. A young man, whether educated or illiterate, healthy or disabled, handsome or ugly, asks for a "fair", beautiful, smart, homely, educated girl, along with dowry. After marriage, the girl is the property of the husband and the in-laws, often exploited physically, mentally, emotionally and financially.

I am happy that the situation is changing; that girls are losing some of the traditional chains that bound them in the past. These changes have touched only a fraction of Indian society. It is high time we wake up and discard these harmful attitudes towards women.


Aadil said...

Can't one do without the horoscopes to get married to someone? Is the horoscope going to tell if the guy is going to be nice to the bride or look after her parents or pay their PF loans?!!! Can't one find someone good without matching a horoscope?

Haddock said...

Agree with what Aadil has to say above.
As for the Pundit who can't get his children married, I think it coould be the girl's parents who may b rejecting them. After all which parent wants their daughter to marry a poor man.

Anonymous said...

Discovered your post exactly when it wasneeded. Thanks to you. It's been recently really beneficial

Srivalli said...

I feel the horoscopes should go!..It's been great reading your posts..kudos on a great space..

Srivalli said...

I feel the horoscopes should go!..It's been great reading your posts..kudos on a great space..

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post (and great blog)! As a Tamilian (my family is in Matunga and Goregoan) woman who was raised in the US, we have many similar challenges. A big one is the question of who will take care of parents who are still in India. My parents live in the US by my MIL is in Chennai. Being more flexible timewise than my husband, I think that I would end up having to spend time in India to care for her if needed. Not something that we discussed before marriage 20 years ago. And despite living in suburban New Jersey, we're still seeing lots of families that insist on matching horoscopes! ;)

Looking forward to my next visit to India - my sons and I will definitely take one of your walking tours! - VKI

DesiRocks said...

Modern Marriages are contract so it needs to be win-win for both the parties unlike traditional marriage which was arrangement by families and duties for bride and groom to perform.

Roopa said...

I have been scanning this blog for quiet sometime now .. and am really loving it ... let me narrate as to how I bumped into this blog.. I recently moved to Mumbai.. thane to be Precise... now the reason is too precious.. I got married... :)
I am from thought I better get acquainted with the new busy town of the globe and thus I googled about mumbai... to land into this website :)while reading this blog I decided I shall poke my nose and continue to become a part of this "post a comment " regular visitor... no I dint get married through Mangayar Malar.. as I was very choosy not to settle in chennai... dint want a guy with Moushtache.. no B'com guys etc.. ( yella nakhra) finally I found my hero ( poor chap) in Tamilmatrimony... they are ppl who have their roots soaked deep in the soil of Mumbai.. and speak Marathi though we are Iyengars.. my Fil speaks tamil so thats the breather.... any way I can guess a good bit of Marathi so know I will survive here.. will stay as a house wife for some more months and then start my job hunt.. as of now I know none here.. so thought will start my acquaintances from this website.. hope you wont mind.. have already gone through the website and am dying to visit the bindi ( stickers) market of crawford street... please do pour in some age old advices ( marital) all I know as of now is Martial :).... jokes apart I liked thane... hope I would start liking Mumbai too.. btw my first train experince is through.. will shortly start a Blog myself then will share my views .. hope to get more gyaan on mumbai.. ( franky my hubby was surprised when I told him about crawford market .. wondering as to how I got to know about it.. then I told him about your website.. ok rest in next...

Deepa Krishnan said...

Roopa, Welcome to Pambaai / Bombay / Mumbai whatever name you want to call it :)

Divya Shankar said...

I asked questions 2 and 3. Question 1, I feel, is bad & needless as every person has his/her responsiibilities, some which existed even before we came into existance.
Live and Let live should be the right way of life .. girls are not asking for too much - it is just that they have become literate and self sufficient enough to out their feet down when it matters. This is healthy attitude. I personally hate Tamil magazines as to some extent they still portray women as quarrel mongers- peace destoyers and men as holy cows .. guess it has become a characteristic trait of most Tamil people .. so it reflects in their thoughts, writing as well.
The priest father in the story should ponder more about his sons and their qualities before addressing questions to the womenfolk.

Anonymous said...

Great blog, Deepa. Been a lurker for a while now :-)

I am not fluent in Tamil, so don't read the magazines either.

However, I felt the rant by the priest is not entirely justified.

In a society that ordinarily demands so much out of women - the basics being 'slim, fair, pretty, educated, homely career woman from a good family (?!!!)', I think our men too need to buck up if they want all that they ask for!

Also, I wonder why the 'priest' cannot simply put the caste barrier aside, and choose a girl from any good family. Then, he really won't have a problem finding brides for his sons.

The problem is not a Lack of women, but a lack of women that fit into 'his self-constricted set of suitable women'.

Reg. the questions (2) and (3) - I think this is a fantastic trend.

There is no reason why a girl's parents should turn strangers just because the girl gets married.

Infact I personally think it is ridiculous that a girl should ask for her husband's approval or permission or even consent for such an arrangement. Men would never think of asking their wife-to-be if he can support his parents!!!!

Anonymous said...

Living in a priest's family is no joke. They demand a lot of religious do's and don'ts, which most women in today's world will find hard to adjust to. The priests will have to change too according to the needs of the time. How many young women can spend their entire life wearing a madisaar?

Anonymous said...

As a British visitor to Mumbai (I've been here quite a while) I applaud this post. However, I must add that I find it a few decades late. Are attitudes only just changing like this? There is great inequality and sexism in this country, regardless of whether a marriage is arrange or not (that is a different debate altogether).

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Anonymous said...

Janaki Krishnan says, "At the end of the day, I feel this is a positive trend in our society." Is it really so? Then, why is it that divorce rate an all-time high? May be girls have nothing to lose but the Thirumangalyam chains!