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.