To an urban reader belonging from the 21st century, the familial opposition to inter-community love marriages might seem anachronistic, but to a vast majority of young eligible bachelors and spinsters, it’s a reality, a rather cruel one in some cases!
As a young man today, I do not have much of an idea about the period when the caste system was created, however, the purpose of its creation seems to have been lost in the changing times! With the societal evolution, call it the influence of the west or the natural evolution process, things have become different from what they were before. The need for individualism and personal satisfaction are on a rise. There’s a tendency of selfish hedonism mixed with a keen sense of social responsibility. We commonly nurse the ambition to achieve all that's possible in one single life in all dimensions. Moreover, the times are changing must faster than they did before. The previous generation did not see the amount of change in the world in its entire lifetime than our generation has seen in its 20 years of age!
In this situation, how fair is it of parents to stay obsessed with age old systems of in-caste marriages which have mostly lost their relevance and cause anguish in the hearts of love birds who’re too afraid to carry their relationship forward because they fear their parents’ reaction! The debate has two dimensions to itself, one is the love vs. the arranged marriage debate and the other, an interlinked one, is the in-caste vs. the inter-caste marriages. I’d say, the ones who fall in love with people from their own caste, and then have their marriages arranged by their families, are the luckiest beings on earth.
Trying to explore the parental psychology that goes behind the pressure for an arranged marriage, a few things come to mind. First and foremost seems to be the persistent and scary thought about ‘log kya kahenge.’ Second, a more logical one that is most commonly used against love marriages is the apparent immaturity of the young individuals which renders them incapable of taking a good decision about something as important as marriage. Parents fear that their sons/daughters might end up getting infatuated with someone and choosing to marry them, in which case, very soon the things become bitter and they break apart. Every parent, who is for an arranged marriage would be very quick to cite examples of failed love marriages! Oh yes, there are girls who’d elope with a guy they’ve been infatuated with for a while now, and not too much time later, break apart.. only to bring infamy to herself, her family and at large, to love marriages!
However, is that reason enough for someone to abandon his deeply felt love for someone and marry elsewhere because his parents wish that way? They say one can’t think on his feet if he’s madly in love with someone! I wouldn’t know whether to agree to this reasoning or not!
Looking at the rising issues of individual choices and intolerance in natures, it becomes extremely important to ascertain the mutual compatibility of the two people who’re to get married. However, the conventional proponents of arranged marriages would only like to give the chance of a few meetings, which hardly give any chance for a real understanding of each others’ nature and thus the compatibility. The sacred institution of marriage which is beyond a union of two individuals, considered to be a union of two families, will end up losing its sanctity if parents persistently impose their choices and decisions on their capable of thinking next generation.
A psychological dimension to this comparison can be taken as the expectations of the marrying partners in the two cases of love and arranged marriages. An arranged marriage is based on a compromise. The guy and the girl both are mentally prepared to have some possible mismatch in expectations and thus they’re more accommodating to each others weaknesses, which helps mutual acceptance of each other and ensures a long term bond which is formed in the period of changing for each other and accepting the other person for what they are! On the contrary, a love marriage is completely full of expectations of all kinds. The picture seems all rosy and everything about the other person seems so perfect. However, when the girlfriend turns wife, or the boyfriend husband, the things become altogether different. What seemed trivial enough to be overlooked earlier, assumes a high significance and now unmet expectations from the person or their family cause immense distress and subsequently there are clashes which shatter the so called bond that was once established when the boy and girl thought that they were madly in love with each other!
This seems to suggest that the lovers think with their hearts and not minds. The young people seem to have a bad track record with its choices and there are several love marriages which started off as a grand solemnization of a relationship of several births but ended up a few months later in a bitter state which left behind only tears, hurts and scars of anguish!
So, in the light of a large history of love marriages, it’s not entirely illogical of parents to detest the idea of frivolous love marriages. However, this opposition seems to have degraded and lost its sense of reason and is dominated more by the fear of, as I said earlier, ‘log kya kahenge’ than a natural and genuine concern about their son/daughter’s happiness. Somehow, the fear of the social consequences entirely eclipse the cause of the son’s happiness and his reasonability. More so in the case of girls, when they’re made to compromise in the name of family honor and different other forms of emotional blackmail till they finally give up all their dreams and marry an almost stranger whom her parents chose for her. Then gradually, she comes to terms with the situation, somehow manages or forces herself to face the reality, to care for her husband as a 'pativrata' and leaves her past behind. Then there are kids, which altogether change her entire perception of what's happiness and what's life!
What is required is that the parents don't give a knee jerk reaction to the possible marital plans of their children and at least lend them a patient hearing, substantiated by logic and reasoning! High time we left behind the issues of 'log kya kahenge' and focused on the more important thing that is the genuine happiness of the two people who are to be together!
There's a lot more to this debate, however, as a start, this would suffice!