Thursday, August 19, 2010

Groom Hunting

In the Western you usually meet someone, you fall in love and then (if you want to) you get married. On this side of the world the closest to a "groom hunting" ritual would be maybe going to a bar/club/pub and pick up a guy, in India...this doesn't happen quite that way.

I have a friend from India, Preethi, and she is actually going through a Groom Hunting period at the time, which I found really interesting, I mean, the whole process and how different it is nowadays from the old days and stuff like that; so I asked Preets to tell me a bit more about it so I could tell you all and here's some of what she told me.

"marriages here in India are a super roller coaster ride!!! especially if it's an arranged marriage!!!" lt is a long process, she says, where the first thing is the horoscope, which is extremely important as they are written when a person is born, according to the date and time of birth.

So, according to each person's horoscope there comes a time in their life which is the peak, and all the good things happen around then, so it is said that is the best time to go groom hunting! The whole process itself has changed a lot from the way it used to be done in the old days--so if you thought this was old-fashioned...wait until you hear about the good old days!

Preets tells me that in the time of her grandmother it kinda happened this way: "the news was spread by word of mouth that Mr. X's daughter is ready for marriage and proposals come home!!". Then, the horoscopes were matched up to see if they'd live a happy life and other necessary things, if the horoscopes matched, the boy's family members would come to see the girl at her home. For this, she'd have to be all dressed up in a Saree (traditional Indian Dress) and serve tea for everyone! She'd have to sit down, with her eyes looking down at all times, afterwards, they would ask her questions such as "can you cook?", "can you sing?"...and that was pretty much it then! Later on, the girl's parents would ask the boy's parents "what are your expectations from us?"; because all the wedding expenses are financed by the girl's family, so the boy's family would say "ok...100gm of gold jewellery...and certain amount of money, and untensils or furniture for the house"...and so on, I guess you get the idea. It's sort of like saying "I'll give you anything you ask in return for taking my daughter"...well, as I see it.

The presents the Groom Family requests

If it is affordable by the girl's family, it is decided that it is that family the one she would go to--point to note: the bride-to-be and groom haven't seen each other yet! Then comes the wedding day; it happens in a marriage hall, which is like a huge auditorium where these priests called Kurukal (in Preethi's local lang) have got a fire going on. Then, the engagement ceremony is followed by a few other rituals that same evening. All the guests, unless they live in the same city where the wedding takes place, stay over in the marriage hall for the night. Meals 3 times a day for all the guests are taken care of, of course, all this by the girl's family! "...and trust me, it's usually over 250 guests!!" Preets comments.

Typical Indian Wedding

The next morning is the Wedding Ceremony, where the Bride and Groom exchange floral malas and the Bride ties the mangalsutra or taali around the Groom's neck which is the main and most important symbol of the marriage! This, worth of mentioning, is the first time that the couple see each other! That night there is a small reception, like a ceremony. The next morning, there is (yet) another ceremony called nalangu where the bride and groom play small games in front of all the guests, like rolling the coconut, breaking the papad, finding the ring, dressing each other up, singing songs and all that! I guess you could say they're somewhat similar to some of the games they play on the western weddings.

Nalangu Ceremony

By the next morning, the bride is sent home with the groom on a car, and before the engagement the bride and groom go on an open car with all the wedding guests walking around it to a temple! So if you're attending an Indian wedding, don't forget to pack comfy shoes for that long walk!

Another thing that I find kind of odd is that there used to be weddings within the family back then, Preethi says: "like my grandma married her mum's younger brother and all!'s also a part of the tradition!", also they got married real young, around the age of 14-16 (as soon as the girls get their period). Well, that was more a bit of how it all happened back then, in the good old grandma, with all the technology and modernity in the world, things are a bit different.

"Now it happens this way for arranged marriage: we look for boys on the internet, particularly on matrimonial websites such as, and others", Preethi shares; all these sites talk about the boys, their horoscope and contact details. "we download the horoscope match and if it does match, we call them, ask their opinions and what kinda of girl they are looking for ,if they're interested as well, we exchange photos online", Preets says. Then, if they both still wanna proceed with the whole thing, the families meet (while, on the other side, mums and dads are also investigating about the family history and background, there are detective agencies that do that, BTW) ; once they're ready to go on with the process, the families meet outside, exchange e-mail id's of the boy and girl, the boy and girls chat first online and if they like each other until then, they move on to phone calls, and if they like each other then, they tell their parents and them together with the families meet formally to fix the marriage. The ceremony is pretty much the same as it was back then as Preethi recalls.

Well, I certainly hope this whole process insight was as interesting for you as it was for me and if you are in the Western side of the world, you should feel lucky you don't have to go through a process as detailed and complicated as the Indians do.

Preethi on her nice Saree

*Very special thanks to Preethi Balasubramanian for the collaboration with the writing of this post.*

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