Ekta- The Talk Show- Ep 3

Disclaimer: All characters in Ekta Talk Show are modelled after REAL characters (with names changed) and their experiences are entirely based on true stories. Ekta is the manifestation of an imaginary conversation between these characters, in a hypothetical scenario of their meeting

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome or welcome back to a fresh episode of our monthly talk show, Ekta- Talk your way to unity. If youre no stranger to Ekta and have visited Ep-1 and Ep-2, you’ll notice that today’s topic is wildly different from our usual. I’m Shubhang Mishra, your host for today! Our translator at hand is Bahija Begum.

Photo by freestocks.org from Pexels

Ekta is a space for us to talk, to listen and to be heard. There are struggles and stories in both the sides of the coin. We acknowledge and appreciate them as we interact with those living in opposite ends of the spectrum.

Our topic today is a fashionable and popular one, especially among the younger generations. A healthy discussion, a debate, there’s room for both!

We have with us today, 4 very special guests. Let’s welcome Anthony Alexander, Nidhi Chopra, Sonam Singh and Bharath Kumar Hegde with a round of applause.

The topic today is “Marriages in Indian society.” There are two types for the same, one being the traditional arranged marriage, wherein the families find alliances for their children with lots of involvement from the extended family in choosing prospective spouses for their children within their own caste/community in compliance with astrology, and the other being marrying someone of one’s own choice.

Please describe the nature of your marriages, your experiences therein and whether or not the said mode worked for you, starting with Nidhi.

Nidhi: Mine was an arranged marriage. I’ve been married for 10 years now and it has definitely worked for me. We did fall in love after our marriage. It is my belief that it would not have been the same way had I married someone of my choice. All my high school and college relationships failed and I went into this marriage, not expecting anything spectacular. There are ups and downs ofcourse, but the rewarding part of it has made it worth it. The union has remained sacred.

Anthony: I married a partner of my choice. I’m a Christian, she’s a Hindu. She comes from a rural area and had moved to the city to work. Her parents disapproved of our marriage very strongly. They tried to kill us for their honour! Yes, honour killing still happens and few are lucky to escape. We were lucky enough to escape. We moved to Mumbai, far away from home and have been living there happily for 11 years now.

Bharath: I’m divorced. I had an arranged marriage, a terrible one. She was in love with another man and her family forced her to marry me, as she was already 30 years old and there weren’t many well-settled single men left in our caste. Her parents wouldn’t let her disgrace the family by eloping with the man of her choice. Hence, a worse disaster took the form of our marriage. She was depressed and suicidal. She blamed me for everything that went wrong in her life.

Sonam: I jumped into a love marriage, the biggest mistake I made in my life. I thought he was the one. I put my relationship with my family at stake for him. It all seemed flowery and glamorous in the beginning. A few months in and then began all the domestic violence, physical and verbal abuse. It was toxic and unbearable. Thankfully, we are divorced now.

According to statistics, 90% of marriages in India are arranged. Only 1% of all marriages end in divorce. Does that mean arranged marriage is the gateway to a successful marriage? Does it always work?

Anthony: Well, we’re the second most populated country in the world, so I think it worked. *Audience laughing*

Bharath: Well, it need not always work, as in my case. Low divorce rates may also be a reflection of the societal pressure to stay married. Divorce is largely a taboo in India. Arranged marriage can be a gamble. In most cases, one learns to adjust themselves to the setting. I can assure that arranged marriage teaches you to compromise. You don’t go in considering divorce as an option. It is a union of families, rather than just the bride and the groom. One is careful about not disappointing their birth family after all the wedding expenses and extravaganza. Sometimes, one continues to live in toxic marriages. Divorce rate is not sufficiently indicative of all unhappy marriages.

Nidhi: In my opinion, most unhappy marriages are capable of being fixed. Due to support from the birth family in arranged marriages, it is easier. The families work a way to mend their children’s marriage. Not all love marriages are family-approved and families do not put much effort into fixing their children’s marriage as they did not have much role in it to begin with. In such cases they’d have a “We said so” attitude about it.

What is the difference between the social perception of an arranged marriage and a love marriage.

Anthony: My wife and I were in a local park, when a middle aged woman started talking to her. I shared a small joke with my wife during her conversation with the woman. She noticed the holy cross on my neck and asked my wife “Is that your husband?” to which my wife nodded. “Christian?” She asked, pointing at me to which she said “yes.” “Then he is not your husband.” She told my wife. “You said your name is Radha and I see the Bindhi on your forehead. You are a Hindu. Any marriage outside one’s religion is invalid.” Saying this, she moved away. So, yes, the social perception is not always good in non-traditional marriages.

Sonam: As someone who was in such a non-traditional marriage, I can attest that you are harshly judged. By most people. There are many who are supportive too. The more urban the setting, the more support you get.

Bharath: My friends mocked me and called me “ancient” for doing as my family said. Some urban youth consider arranged marriages outdated.

Nidhi: Usually the first question posed by yester generation folks when they see a couple would be “Arranged or love?”. If the answer is the former, the more you are respected, as in my case.

From this discussion, what do you think should be the norm for marriages?

Bharath: Choosing a spouse for yourself is like an MCQ (multiple choice question). You choose the best option from the many options you have. Arranged marriage is like “True or false”. You’re given a question and you need to answer with a “yes” or “no”. Both of them equally have the potential to be right or wrong, I.e, to work or fall apart. It is more about the couple themselves than the nature of their marriage.

Sonam: Marriage and romantic relationships aren’t for everyone. They are only a supplement to life, not a necessity. Life is big and there’s more to it. No one should be pressurised into doing something they can very well live without when a certain age is reached. The society will talk, but talking is all they can do!

Anthony: Everyone should have the privilege to choose between tradition, choice and must also be empowered to choose neither, if that’s their calling.

We are at the end of this segment. Hearty thanks to the guests and the audience for making this segment a grand success! Signing off, Shubhang Mishra.

PS: Check out paeansunplugged’s masterpiece satirical poem on this topic! Beyond brilliant. 👌

89 thoughts on “Ekta- The Talk Show- Ep 3

  1. Rightly or wrongly, arranged marriages are still a norm. I liked how you touched on this crucial topic. Divorces are on the rise here for two reasons: the stigma has been removed to some extent and these days youngsters are not ready to compromise to make it work.
    Inter-religious marriages and inter- caste marriages will take a long time to be totally acceptable.

    Well done, Sahana. The conversation flowed seamlessly. 👍🏼👏🏼👏🏼

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is no doubt a sensitive and delicate topic. As a foreigner, I cannot pass judgement on arranged marriage nor love marriages. There are very few arranged marriages here in my country. But what I will say is there are pros and cons on both sides. I would say also that It must be much harder to have an arranged marriage outside India as it is not the societal norm, so expectations might be a bit different. I am surprised at the divorce rate – as it is close to 1 in 4 here. But then having been in an abusive relationship when I was younger, I thank goodness I was not betrothed to that man!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for reading!
      I think arranged marriages here work somewhat different to how it is there Down-under? I’d like to know more. Wow! 1 in 4 is appalling! Our rates are on the rise too, but I don’t think it’d get thaaat far. Again, thanks a lot for reading! 🙏

      Like

      • Arranged marriages here only occur in traditional ethnic families of various backgrounds. Not in ethnic Australians who are second or third generation. The traditional ways are often diluted deliberately or accidentally through assimilation or desire by the individuals. We have no caste or class in Australia. You could marry anyone you choose. Most young couples choose for love and tell their families this is their choice.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, I knew the last part. That’s how it is in most parts of the world.
        I reckon Native Australians are quite culturally and genetically similar to South Indians? Quite a few South Indians who took DNA tests had aboriginal ancestry and vice verse.
        Interesting how we all are very different and very similar at the same time, culturally atleast.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I didn’t know that about South Indians connection with Aboriginal Australians, but I do believe it. The Aussie indigenous folk had to come from somewhere and as my continent was connected to yours in a massive old world called Gondwanaland before continental drift separated us – it would make sense. Noone knows how long the Aboriginals have been here for – they though 40,000 years but now they think perhaps 80,000 years.
        We are all connected if we go back far enough!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This was quite the read, loved it. I guess its an unending debate between love marriage and arrange marriage, but be it love or arrange its best to know your partner well as one might not always be as lucky to end up with a good partner.

    Like

    • 😂 நன்றி
      All based on true stories. I watch Brut, Quint, etc.. on YouTube and hear such stories there 😬 Baaki ellam friends’ relatives, their neighbours etc… 😅😂

      Like

  4. Oh dear Sam, this is very interesting.. 👏👏 I love how you address each situation here with harmless points. I so agree with all the said points. But I think it’s also the fate and luck that helps love or arranged marriage to be successful…. And choosing the right person decides our destiny. Both marriages have it’s flaws but it’s also true that many marriages sustain only for the society’s sake.
    Brilliant post as always. This is why I love your writings and I love you too. ❤️❤️❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • Aww what a very lovely comment! Thank you so so very much dearest Akka! You are so right. Marriages require a certain luck a certain cosmic charm, if you will.
      Thanks a lott for reading! 💕

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Wow Sam! I enjoyed reading all the guest views, which I thought to be quite powerful. They all seem to be coming from different personalities, but converge to the master brains of the author, you!
    I, for one, can’t bear with these ‘arrange marriages’ you don’t even know the other person! I won’t ruin my life for something like this. Better not marry at all.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. You brought about an interesting and well presented panel discussion Sahana.
    Today, there is a gradual bend towards love marriages amongst the urban population.
    Love or arranged marriages work only when there is a fair amount of understanding and adjustment from both.
    Today while we have taught our girls to be empowered and independent, but the boys have not been taught to accept that kind of equality specially in a marriage.
    Also the diluted value system is another cause for rise in the divorce numbers.
    As always you impress me with your writing every time dear. ❤️👍🏻

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Love your Ekta episodes. They are wonderful. I have witnessed both arranged marriages and free-choice marriages. I have to say it depends on people’s expectation, personal characteristics, and a lot of other factors. Marriage is a very complex issue and it is getting more complicated in the modern society. One thing is for sure that people in arranged marriage have their expectations well arranged before they get married. They would not expect a romance or sparks or intellectual connection. Also they have more realistic expectation on finances. I’ve witnessed successful arranged marriage–my grandparents. They don’t even communicate since their life is so well ordered that they don’t need much communication at all. Things run smoothly just like in an army barrack, in which people follow the pre-determined instructions and there’s no surprises.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Such a heartwarming account about your grandparents! That is exactly why the tradition has stood the test of time. Something that’s doomed to fail will not go on for generations. The part about expectations is so true! They have boundaries to expectations so if they don’t get it, they’re not disappointed and if they do, it’s a bonus.
      I thought arranged marriage is a purely Indian concept. You are originally from Mongolia, am I right?
      Again, thanks a lot for your wonderful comment. I truly appreciate it! 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Marriage is a very complicated matter. From an Indian perspective, it is not just a union of bride and groom, it is the union of their family too. There is also caste, religion, and many other things involved. Preference for arranged or love marriage differs from person to person. What may work for one person may not work for others.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Characters are real and discussions are also real. An interesting and realistic post, Sahana. I loved the way you presented this controversial topic.
    Both love and arranged marriages have their pros and cons. A lot depends on the nature and circumstances of persons involved. But destiny holds upper hand. Mindset is changing gradually and I have been a party to a number of arranged love marriages, where girl and boy fall in love and then marriage is solemnised with parents’ blessings in the traditional fashion.

    Like

    • Thank you very much for reading and commenting on this post! Mindsets are changing indeed, especially amount the younger generations. Indeed it all boils down to circumstances. Thanks again, sir! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh, my! I’ve learnt a lot in this profound article: not only about the Indian culture and marriage, but also about life. I was surprised about the statistics of divorce, then I read “Divorce rate is not sufficiently indicative of all unhappy marriages.” It really is a lot to think about. Everything is not often what they seem. Underlying factors are often neglected, and this interview sheds great light on that.

    The conclusion was just apt and full of wisdom. Relating arranged marriages to “True or False,” and marriage of choice to “MCQ” totally made both instances extremely relatable. Ultimately, like you rightly said, it is a supplement to life, not a necessity. I’ve learnt over time that people don’t know how to be alone, and it informs a lot of decisions they make: a lot of the times, wrong ones. Well done on this fabulous piece! 👏👏👏

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was concerned about the length of this article, yet I’m so so happy you read every bit of it snd that it makes sense to you. Thank you so so very much for your wonderful support, my friend. I consider myself blessed to have it and truly appreciate your time 🙏
      Your observation is extremely right- it’s one’s inability to be alone that leads them to make wrong decisions most of the times.
      Thanks again for your wonderful comment! 🙏🙏 It’s hard to explain how much I appreciate it. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Fascinating look behind the curtain at something I knew little about. Ironically, I have two different friends whose daughters are engaged to Indian men living in the United States. What I heard from both mothers is how much they liked the Indian sense of family. Both engagements are for a long period to hopefully make the marriage more viable when they have to decide how to blend cultures.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks a lot for reading! Oh, that does sound very Indian! Having long engagements, I mean. Here, the bridegroom abd his family visit the bride’s home (they’re complete strangers) and the families interact with each other and try and get to know each other. (Ofcourse, special entry for the bride for cinematic effects 😉) Once she comes, some special food prepared by her is served to the bridegroom’s extended family. Then, the two of them go out alone and talk for a while, about life, about themselves and check if they are compatible. After this, the dates are fixed for the engagement ceremony and everyone’s invited, rings exchanged, invitations written by the pundit, etc.. The best part of engagement; wedding, reception and all of it is- the food! 😉 Sorry for the looong uninteresting comment 😂 I was a bit too excited to explain, since you mentioned “Indians”. This is the traditional procedure and this is how (almost) every marriage I’ve ever been to has been. 🙂
      Again; sorry about my excitement 😅

      Like

      • And oh, the engagement happens only if both the parties consent to the marriage 🙂 So it’s typically not forced. These visits may happen multiple times until a compatible partner is found. And then the fun parts with good food 😉

        Like

  12. I love how you’ve argued all sides of the conversation. I like how you’ve shown the pros and cons of all sides – something people don’t care to see always.
    I think you should also do an episode on ‘are marriages still relevant’?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Very interesting topic
    I’ve meant from Indian series, like Kumkum Bhagya, that marriage seems to be quite important in India and divorce not even an option.
    I agree with the guests opinions on arranged and love marriages🗞

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you tonnes for reading! Yeah, in conservative Indian societies especially, that is the case. In urban areas such as where I live, one knows better than to force unwilling people into marriage 😅 Interesting that you watch Indian serials!

      Like

      • Of course I watch them! The shows are always amazing and I have a few favorite actors and actresses like Sriti Jha, Ravi Dubey, Nia Sharma – just to name a few💅😉

        Like

  14. Very interesting post! Marriage and especially arranged marriage is a widely discussed topic so it was interesting to read different aspects and thoughts about it.

    Like

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  16. Very insightful conversation. Arrange and love marriages are subjective so we should not make judgement based on a few cases. Though I feel divorce rate in india is unrealistically very low.

    Like

  17. This format of a talk show is a really brilliant way to explain the complexities of this topic. I agree with Bharath, however any marriage begins, whether it’s love marriage or arranged marriage, they both have the potential to succeed or fail: “It is more about the couple themselves than the nature of their marriage.” The low divorce rates of India are such a big contrast to USA culture where divorce is so prevalent. A stigma against divorce can incentivize couples to work on their marriage instead of taking the easy way out. Because you go into marriage knowing “divorce is not an option.” I think this is better for families and society in general to treat divorce seriously, as something you would do only in worst case scenario (such as in an abusive marriage).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for taking the time to read and commenting. Oh, how I agree with you- Divorce should be considered in the worst case scenario. If it is any way other than that outside home, I’m surprised. With everything becoming normalised around the world, I can predict a decadent culture globally, why even in India. Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts. I agree every bit.

      Like

  18. Wow. This is a great topic. Living in Malaysia and being exposed to Indian culture a lot, I’ve always been privy to arranged marriages here, but it’s great to hear from those who are directly experiencing it as well. Thanks so much for this enlightening show!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Great post. I don’t believe in arrange marriage but reading this post made me see things clearly. It looks like if we look at all factors that will guarantee a marriage to last other than attraction and love, then forever has higher chance of survival. It kind of reminds me of computer match dating where the dating algorithm matches couple based on their characteristics and wants instead purely on physical attraction and eventually love.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, that is exactly true! These days they have online matrimony sites for that. Earlier, news about women/ men of marriageable age used to be spread in newspaper or by word of mouth.
      Thank you so so very much for taking the time to read and comment. Truly appreciate! 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

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