Post the Netflix show “Indian Matchmaking” the conversation around arranged marriages in Asia was brought to the forefront.
Hate it or love it - it’s been impossible to ignore the show and the themes presented. Arranged marriage seems to be a forign concept for many in the West but is quite common in Asia.
In South East Asia, traditionally arranged marriages are facilitated by an elder who then brings forward rishta’s (potential suitors) to each family.
For some, the Netflix’s show represented an unacceptable normalisation of the regressive standards placed on Indian women in order to be seen as “suitable”, while pushing the unspoken issue of gender inequality, casteism and colourism under the carpet. For others, the themes presented in the show are an honest representation of how dating and arranged marriages really work in the South East Asian culture.
At the beginning of the series, we see Sima Taparia, or Sima Mami (Aunty), as she calls herself, asserting, “In India we don’t say ‘arranged marriage’. There is marriage and then there is ‘love marriage’
This statement rings true in its sociocultural context, holding a mirror to some of what happens in Indian society. Twenty-nine-year-old Indian-Australian Anusha Reddy* talks through the hurdles she’s faced trying to navigate love and cultural expectations. Reddy grew up in Australia and considers herself and her family to be quite progressive but has found it hard to strike a balance between culture and love. In the Indian culture, we have a saying that translates to “what will people say” and so it becomes somewhat of a driving force for how we navigate our lives, says Reddy.
Traditionally, arranged marriages are facilitated by an elder who then brings forward rishta’s (potential suitors) to each family. “You come to accept such things, growing up, I made fun of the process and thought it to be the norm” says Reddy.
What makes you desirable?
The first Q is how much do you earn to be good enough for my daughter? What's your job? How educated are you?
The rhetoric of arranged marriage is one that very much still exists, “we cringe at the thought of being regressive because we're all too familiar with the problematic ways in which arranged marriages can operate”. But matchmaking services are just a step up from dating apps in reality.
Bio: Aaishah Janif is a multilingual South East Asian-Australian with a dry sense of humour. She holds an undergraduate degree in Commerce and is currently studying a Master of Journalism. She’s a published journalist, producer, host and content creator, who wears many hats in the digital world and has a penchant for fashion and finance. She’s innately curious and fascinated by the world.
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