Friday, January 20, 2012

Sweetie's Sister is getting married!

This story started back in September, last year.

Wednesday September 7th
Her father has decided it is time. She is twenty-one and deemed ready to fly the nest.

Last weekend her parents met a potential suitor's parents (apparently he is a driver - that's all Sweetie knows), and the potential in-laws also met Sweetie's sister of whom they approved.

This weekend is the exciting one : potential groom gets to set eyes on potential bride. No photos have been exchanged so it really will be ???????? at first sight. Sweetie is visibly excited by the prospect. The potential groom has the right of veto but the potential bride has said she will trust her parents feelings on this one.

Sweetie married a boy she had messed about in the mud with since she was four - so there was no suspense and once the decision was made the wedding was quick as apparently there weren't a lot of financial complications - like a dowry! However, her husband has been awol for 3 days as he is celebrating the Ganesha festival (yes he is a christian but hey it's party time!!) with friends. He will apparently be back for tomorrow for St. Mary's feast. Apparently when Vidhya, Sweetie's daughter was sick as a baby they prayed to God, not Ganesh to protect her and hence her husband will be home......

As her sister's marriage is not with a family friend, there is the dowry to agree and then raise the necessary money for and also the wedding to finance, which has to be more of an elaborate affair than Sweetie's was and will take a few months to put together. And yes we will be invited!! She had already told her parents to put us on the guest list!!

Next installment, Monday when the verdict will be in - to be wed, or not be wed...that is the question!!

Monday September 12th

It appears the young man was not so young after all - 11 years older than Sweetie's sister. The jury is currently out - to determine whether the age difference is too much. Sweetie thinks the guy is not only too old for her sister but also as she said disparagingly "Ma'am, he is too fat." Sweetie is petite and skinny - her sister apparently more so. Her sister meanwhile is leaving the issue up to her parents to ponder and will abide by their decision.

Wednesday September 14th

Not so young, healthy (the India term for plump) suitor has been rejected.

Wednesday January 18th

All had been quiet on this subject for some months until today. Sweetie was all smiles and happy to inform me there is a match.

This husband in waiting is actually a distant relative on her father's side. Apparently the two parts of the family had not met for some years, until recently reconnected at some poor uncles demise. Here it was discovered that both parts of the family had something the other was looking for! The lucky guy is a driver, 28 (six years older than Sweetie's sister - older enough to be in a position to look after her but not too old to be considered past his sell by) and all importantly thin! The financial arrangements (i.e. dowry) have been negotiated and deemed appropriate from both sides. The happy couple have now met twice but can't meet again until after the engagement or some similar ceremony where they will become "half-married" in a couple of months time. After that they will be allowed to meet "to talk" - Sweetie emphasized the "talking" - no hanky panky allowed!

The wedding cannot take place until the end of this year or early next as the future groom has a sister who has to be married off first. So the chaste engagement will be a long one.

So there will be a wedding. These days "love" marriages are more and more permissible but it appears that the traditional arranged marriage is not only going strong but is still totally accepted amongst the potential brides and grooms as their path to their "to have and to hold, sickness and health, richer and poorer, until death do us part" or the Hindi equivalent!

What is so interesting is the different ways we talk about a forthcoming/ongoing match. In the western world a lot of the chat is about 'the relationship' or 'the chemistry' as if there is a third party involved, or we debate one party's effect on the other 'he makes me laugh'. 'he makes me happy'. In the Eastern world, especially in that of the arranged marriage, the chat is more pragmatic - he has a good background, is a good character, has a good job, is the right age etc.etc. I have no idea if one approach is better, has a higher chance of success, makes for a "better" marriage but it sure is interesting to see the differences at work!!

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