Arranged marriage

Arranged marriage
"Marriage à-la-mode" by William Hogarth: a satire on arranged marriages and prediction of ensuing disaster

An arranged marriage is a practice in which someone other than the couple getting married makes the selection of the persons to be wed, meanwhile curtailing or avoiding the process of courtship. Such marriages had deep roots in royal and aristocratic families around the world. Today, arranged marriage is largely practiced in South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka),[1] Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia and East Asia to some extent.[2] Other groups that practice this custom include the Unification Church and Hasidic Jewry. It should not be confused with the practice of forced marriage, in which one person forces another to marry him or her. Arranged marriages are usually seen in Indian, traditional European and African cultures, especially among royalty, and are usually decided by the parents or an older family member. The match could be selected by parents, a matchmaking agent, matrimonial site, or a trusted third party. In many communities, priests or religious leaders as well as relatives or family friends play a major role in matchmaking.



Arranged marriages vary in both nature and duration of time from meeting to engagement. In an "introduction only" arranged marriage, the parents may only introduce their son or daughter to a potential spouse. From that point on, it is up to the children to manage the relationship and make a choice. There is no set time period. This is common in the rural parts of North America,[citation needed] South America and especially in India and Pakistan. The same also appears in Japan. This type of arranged marriage is very common in Iran under the name of khastegary. This open-ended process takes considerably more courage on the part of the parents, as well as the prospective spouses, in comparison to a fixed time-limit arranged marriage. Men and women fear the stigma and emotional trauma of going through a courtship and then being rejected.[citation needed]

In some cases, a prospective partner may be selected by the son or daughter instead of by the parents or by a matchmaker. In such cases, the parents will either disapprove of the match and forbid the marriage or approve the match and agree to proceed with the marriage. Such cases are distinct from a love marriage because courtship is curtailed or absent and the parents retain the prerogative to forbid the match.

A culture of arranged marriage

In cultures where dating is not prevalent, arranged marriages perform a similar function—bringing together people who might otherwise not have met. In such cultures, arranged marriage is viewed as the norm and accepted by young adults.In several cultures, the last duty of a parent to his or her son or daughter is to see that he or she passes through the marital rites.

In some cultures, arranged marriage is a tradition handed down through many generations. Parents who take their son or daughter's marriage into their own hands have themselves been married by the same process. Many parents, and children likewise, feel pressure from the community to conform, and in certain cultures a love marriage or even courtship is considered a failure on the part of the parents to maintain control over their child.

Proponents of arranged marriage often feel that people can quite easily be influenced by emotional infatuation to make an illogical choice.[3] In these societies, the intragenerational relationship of the family is much more valued than the marital relationship. The whole purpose of the marriage is to have a family.[4] Even if the couple does not love each other at first, a greater understanding between the two would develop, aided by their often similar socioeconomic, religious, political, and cultural backgrounds.[5] Proponents may also feel that marriages simply based on romance are doomed to failure due to the partners having unreasonable expectations of each other and with the relationship having little room for improvement.[5]

Furthermore, supporters of arranged marriages believe that parents can be trusted to make a match that is in the best interests of their children. They hold that parents have much practical experience to draw from and not be misguided by emotions and hormones.[5] Opponents will note that there are times when the choosers select a match that serves their interests or the family's interests and not necessarily to the couple’s pleasure and find this naturally unacceptable.[5] However, the community and even the children may see this as an acceptable risk with potential benefits.

In these societies, the intragenerational relationship of the family is much more valued than the marital relationship. The whole purpose of the marriage is to have a family. The stability and endurance of the family in the long run are more important than the sexual pleasures involved in marital relationships.[6]

Factors considered in matchmaking

In Indian, some of the factors to be considered in some order of priority may be taken into account for the purpose of matchmaking:

  • Religion: The religious and spiritual beliefs can play a large role in finding a suitable spouse
  • Caste and culture: Usually, first preference is given to the same caste. The ancestry of the individual and the family's culture and traditions also play an important part. Usually, prospective spouses are looked for from families belonging to the same region and having the same language and food habits.
  • Reputation of the family and friends with power over that child
  • Wealth: Families holding substantial assets may prefer to marry to another wealthy family. Dowry is extremely important in Indian marriages although it has been banned officially.
  • Vocation: For a groom, the profession of doctor, accountant, lawyer or engineer are traditionally valued as excellent spouse material. More recently, any profession commanding relatively high income is also given preference. Vocation is less important for a bride[citation needed] but it is not uncommon for two people of the same vocation to be matched. Some preferred vocations for a bride include the profession of teacher, doctor, or lawyer.
  • Physical fitness of the individual is taken into account in some cases.
  • Horoscope: Numerology and the positions of stars at birth is often used in Indian culture to predict the success of a particular match. This is sometimes expressed as a percentage, for example, a 70% match. Horoscope becomes a determining factor if one of the partners is Mângalik (lit., negatively influenced by Mars).

Clan links

Among most Indian and Nepalese Hindus, the hereditary system of caste (Hindi: jâti) is an extremely important factor in arranged marriage. Arranged marriages, and parents, almost always require that the married persons should be of the same caste. Sometimes inter-caste marriage is one of the principal reasons of familial rejection or anger with the marriage. The proof can be seen by the numerous Indian marriage websites on the internet, most of which are by caste. Even within the caste, there is obligation, followed strictly by many communities, to marry (their son/daughter) outside the gotra (sub-caste or clan). It must however be noted that modern India, being a democracy, does not prohibit inter-caste or intra-gotra marriage (by the Hindu Marriage Act). Arranged marriages are less common in the Hindu diaspora outside South Asia, although they have undergone a revival in the United Kingdom among Indian immigrants.[7]

Many Indian families who consider the caste system an artificial excuse for social inequity have the opposite preference. They prefer to marry persons of differing caste and tend to avoid matches within the same caste. It is believed that intercaste marriages weaken the caste system and thus reduce social inequality caused by the caste stratification. Such families are also often open to marriages across national borders.

Similar clan-based arranged marriages have been reported in Mexican communities and Amerindians, particularly among the Triqui, including immigrants in the United States.[8][9][10] Likewise, Fundamentalist Latter Day Saint (FLDS) groups, not to be confused with the LDS Church (Mormons), in the United States also practice arranged marriages by FLDS religious affiliation [9]

Arranged marriages are fairly common in the Muslim world, particularly Pakistan (the second most populous Muslim country), where rituals like Pait Likkhi involve marriage based on clan affiliations.[11]

Arguments for and against arranged marriage


There are several arguments in favour of arranged marriage. Some of the most popular are:

  • Modern arranged marriages, in contrast to classical ones, are not based on proscriptions but on pragmatic considerations. Often, parents can contribute to the offspring's life by utilizing the benefits of experience to choose the right mate for him/her. The common misconception is that the concept of arranged marriages imply traditional male-female duties.
  • Statistics place the divorce rate for arranged marriages much lower than those in the United States, where marriages of personal choice are the norm.[12]
  • Allow individuals that may have hard time finding a mate such as socially inept, disabled and etc. to find a mate and get married.
  • In the urban culture of modern India, the differentiation between arranged and love marriages is increasingly seen as a "false dichotomy" with the emergence of phenomena such as "self-arranged marriages" and free-choice on the part of the prospective spouses.[13][14]


Amongst the arguments against arranged marriage, the most prominent are:

  • Arranged marriage is as good or as bad as the people arranging it. A forced mismatch, based on the values important to the arranger may not be as important to the parties involved.
  • A person is limited to marry only one of the matches the parents or elders selected. Because the matches are made according to culture, background, profession, etc. it is almost impossible to marry intercultural, or from lower social background to higher and vice a versa.
  • A further condemnation of the practice of arranging marriage for economic reasons comes from Edlund and Lagerlöf (2004) who argued that a love marriage is more effective for the promotion of accumulation of wealth and societal growth.


See also


  1. ^ Divorce soars in India's middle class, Telegraph, October 1, 2005
  2. ^ Why cousin marriage matters in Iraq,, December 26, 2006
  3. ^ Fox, Greer i love popcorn Litton (1975). "Love Match and Arranged Marriage in a Modernizing Nation: Mate Selection in Ankara Turkey". Journal of Marriage and the Family 37 (1): 180–193. 
  4. ^ Reaves, Jo. NEWS: Marriage in China Not So Different than in the West. Asian Pages. St. Paul: May 31, 1994.Vol.4, Iss. 18; pg. 4
  5. ^ a b c d Xu Xiaohe; Martin King Whyte. Love Matches and Arranged Marriages: A Chinese Replication. Journal of Marriage and the Family, Vol. 52, No. 3. (Aug., 1990), pp. 709–722.
  6. ^ Reaves, Jo. NEWS: Marriage in China Not So Different than in the West. Asian Pages. St. Paul: May 31, 1994.Vol.4, Iss. 18; pg. 4
  7. ^ Blunkett 'attacking Asian culture' with criticism of arranged marriages, The Independent, February 8, 2002
  8. ^ Chawkins, Steve (January 15, 2009). Los Angeles Times.,0,7106665.story. [dead link]
  9. ^ a b
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ What Arranged Marriage Can Teach Us
  13. ^ Susan C. Seymour, Susan Christine Seymour, Women, family, and child care in India: a world in transition, Cambridge University Press, 1999, ISBN 9780521598842,, "... a "love-cum-arranged marriage" ... In trying to better understand why most young, highly educated women I have known in Bhubaneswar continued to prefer arranged marriages over love marriages ..." 
  14. ^ Heidi Rika Maria Pauwels, The goddess as role model: Sītā and Rādhā in scripture and on screenOxford scholarship online, Oxford University Press US, 2008, ISBN 9780195369908,, "... love-cum-arranged marriage, also known as "assisted" marriage, seeking to "combine" the best of both types ... addressing the false dichotomy of love and arranged marriage ..." 
  15. ^ Lena Edlund and Nils-Petter Lagerlöf (Implications of Marriage Institutions for Redistribution and Growth), Online Article, first version 2002, revised version 2004:November 27

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • arranged marriage — noun A match decided by the families of the bride and groom, rather than the couple themselves • • • Main Entry: ↑arrange * * * noun, pl ⋯ riages [count] : a marriage in which the husband and wife are chosen for each other by their parents * * *… …   Useful english dictionary

  • arranged marriage — arranged marriages N COUNT In an arranged marriage, the parents choose the person who their son or daughter will marry …   English dictionary

  • arranged marriage — UK [əˌreɪndʒd ˈmærɪdʒ] / US [əˌreɪndʒd ˈmerɪdʒ] noun [countable] Word forms arranged marriage : singular arranged marriage plural arranged marriages a marriage that is arranged by the parents of the man and woman getting married, instead of the… …   English dictionary

  • arranged marriage — marriage where the couple to be married is chosen by others based on considerations besides the pre existing mutual attraction of the couple …   English contemporary dictionary

  • arranged marriage — /əreɪndʒd ˈmærɪdʒ/ (say uhraynjd marij) noun a marriage that is arranged between the families of the two people being married, often with the help of a matchmaker, and usually with the consent of the couple. Compare forced marriage, servile… …   Australian-English dictionary

  • arranged marriage — ar|ranged mar|riage [ ə,reındʒd merıdʒ ] noun count a marriage that is arranged by the parents of the man and woman getting married, instead of the man and woman choosing to marry each other …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • arranged marriage — noun (C, U) a marriage in which the parents choose a husband or wife for their child: Arranged marriages are still common in the Indian community …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • arranged marriage — ar.ranged marriage n [U and C] a marriage in which your parents choose a husband or wife for you …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • arranged marriage — noun A wedding planned by someone other than the couple …   Wiktionary

  • Arranged marriage in India — Arranged marriages have the tradition in Indian society for centuries. Even today overwhelming majority of Indians in India have their marriages planned by their parents and other respected family members, with the consent of the bride and groom… …   Wikipedia

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