Is it Bad if the Bride Rejects the Groom on the Wedding Day?

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In Uttar Pradesh, a bride called off the wedding when the groom arrived drunk at the event and his friends dragged her to the dance floor. While two days before another bride refused to marry the groom after six pheras because she did not like him. These cases of brides rejecting grooms on the day of the wedding have been on the rise in the past years. And for good reason.

They raise two major thoughts in mind- first thought makes us admire the bride’s resilience and the right to accept and refuse which is not common in our patriarchal society. And second thought makes us question the entire system of Indian matchmaking- how much freedom do brides and grooms have in choosing and knowing their life partners?

What are the factors that determine the acceptance or rejection of a bride or groom? And who decides these factors- personal choice or a toxic internalisation of the patriarchal thought process?

Indian matchmaking process: Do women have the freedom to choose their partners?

It is common for Indian parents to assume that they can take better decisions for their offspring when it comes to choosing a prospective marriage partner. Almost every matrimonial match in India, whether it is for a son or a daughter, is sealed by the approval of the parents. But the problem arises when parents’ decision overpowers the choice of the bride or the groom. Parents’ approval is made mandatory because in India marriage is not just a union of two people who fell in love with each other.

But the assimilation of two families, business partners, political parties, caste and religion. It is an institution that should necessarily strengthen the reputation of the families while love and understanding between the life partners often become optional. In such scenarios, can a person ever exercise their right to choose their life partner as per the personal choice and understanding?

Especially when it comes to daughters, parents’ approval becomes mandatory and oppressive because women are infantilised by society as incapable of making their own decisions. Men might get some privilege because of their gender but do women ever get the right to question or refuse the choices and decisions of their parents? While some families do allow their daughters to have the final word to seal a match, many others don’t even let the bride meet the groom until the wedding day.

I have personally witnessed women crying at their weddings because they did not like the grooms their parents chose. While others are shamed for trying to know their grooms, meet them or talk to them before getting married. Even worse is the fact that many arranged marriages in India go by the belief of chatt mangani pat vyah because of which brides and grooms don’t get much time to know and understand each other well.

So the cases of brides rejecting grooms for serious to frivolous reasons then should raise some important questions in our minds. Shouldn’t brides be allowed the freedom to explore, choose and know their life partners well before sealing a match?

Rather than criticising the bride for refusing the groom on the day of the marriage, shouldn’t we question the conditioning of the brides who are never allowed to have a choice in marriage? Even if these brides took time to make decisions, is it ever too late to choose the right partner? Shouldn’t we rather appreciate her resilience and firmness to stand by her choices?

Who is a prospective marriage partner? Don’t let social standards decide that

But then, the discussion doesn’t end here. Yes, men and women should have the freedom to choose the person they want to marry. But then is it not equally important to analyse the mindset that decides the factors along which a bride or a groom is rejected? For example, in our society, it is common for grooms and their families to reject the bride for being too dark, too ambitious or too outspoken. 90 per cent of desi brides face rejection because they were not beautiful enough.

On the other hand, brides reject grooms for not being financially stable enough, for being too dark, weak or unattractive. A bride rejected a groom because he had poor eyesight while the other rejected a groom because he was “too weak“. These cases and stats point out a major fault in our understanding of a prospective bride or groom. Rather than judging a person based on their looks or financial status, shouldn’t we normalise accepting a person for who they are? Shouldn’t we try and get rid of our obsession with fairness, narrowed definition of a good looking and successful person?

Shouldn’t we broaden our mindset, get rid of patriarchal conditioning and stop allowing social standards to decide the prospective life partners for us? Why is our freedom to choose the right life partner either clenched in the hands of dominating parents or in the claws of patriarchal mindset?

Time to change Indian matchmaking process

So it is about time now that we get rid of gender, caste, religion or racial stereotypes that smear the entire system of matchmaking in India. Not only should brides and grooms have the freedom to choose the person they marry but should also be taught to unlearn the patriarchal mindset that obstructs the decision making process. Moreover, it is high time that we normalise love, equality and understanding as the major factors to seal a matrimonial match rather than worrying about social standards and log kya kahenge.

Love marriages, inter-caste and inter-religion marriages should be normalised rather than fixing arranged marriages as the only moral way to choose the right life partner. We need to understand that marriage is primarily a bond between two people and so it matters that they align with each other in terms of love, understanding and most importantly equality.

Views expressed are the author’s own. 

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