Arranged Marriage For Hindus In
21st Century America
By Megan Sweas
Religion News Service
LOS ANGELES (RNS) Kamna Mittal and her husband moved to the Bay Area soon
after they were married in India in 2000. In addition to being in a new country, the
couple were new to each other. Their marriage had been arranged.
"When you go for an arranged marriage," she said, "it's a total gamble."
Now a mother of two, Mittal counts herself lucky that it worked out, but 12 years later,
she wants to help Indian-American singles in the Bay Area meet directly.
Turns out even love can use a little help every now and then, and the age-old practice
of arranged Hindu marriages is getting a 21st-century makeover.
Sapna Thakur, 34, recently moved to the Bay Area and attended Mittal's first mixer in
February, a Valentine's Day-themed singles party. "Why not? Give it a shot," she
thought before going.
"It was a bit awkward in the beginning but then it was fine because there were a lot of
games and people were mingling. I had a nice time."
The marriage process is in flux in
Indian-American culture, opening the door to new avenues for matchmaking. Even as
singles' attitudes on dating change, Hindu tradition still holds sway through mixers,
matrimony websites and matchmakers.
Within Indian culture (which is predominantly Hindu), marriage is as much about
families coming together as it is about couples coming together. Hinduism orders
families into four major castes and thousands of sub-castes, each with their own
particular ritual role or profession. Ideally, a couple must be in the same sub-caste,
region and religion. Priests also compare their horoscopes to ensure compatibility.
Especially in Indian villages, matchmaking tends to be informal, using "extensive
kinship networks," said Lindsey Harlan, chair of religious studies at Connecticut
College. When an Indian gets to a marriageable age, "aunties," who are not necessarily
related, start looking out for potential life partners.
April 23, 2012
Posted: 04/23/2012 9:26 am Updated: 04/23/2012 12:22 pm