A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

When different is good..

Posted by Pepper on June 2, 2011

My friend’s parents are on a serious mission to find a suitable groom for their daughter. She is a Maharashtrian, belonging to the CKP (Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu) caste. Their biggest criteria is the caste. The boy shouldn’t only be a Maharashtrian, but should be a CKP Maharashtrian. I find something fundamentally wrong with this kind of thinking.

I am not against arranged marriages, IF they are dealt with the right way. If the girl and guy are given sufficient time to interact and know each other, are given enough time to make a decision, are given the option to decline the proposal without repercussions, then yes, I think they can work. However, I am quite against the whole concept of using caste as a filter. Aren’t you letting go of good matches by having this as your top most criteria?

Why are people so insistently holding on to past norms? They want the same religion, same caste, same community, same region and want everything else to be the  same. They’re asking for a replica of their own selves. Perhaps this worked earlier, because two people put together from diverse backgrounds would find it hard to adapt to each others ways and lifestyles. But today, the scenario is very different. Somebody living in Pune is working in Chennai. Somebody from Kerala is being sent on a project to Haryana. A Gujrati and a Bengali guy are living together as room mates in Delhi. Moreover, the internet is connecting us to every corner of the world. We’re all being shuffled, displaced and connected, and we’re all blending in to our surrounding, adapting to new cultures and deriving one common culture – a culture of diversity. That is how ‘Metros’ evolve.

Isn’t diversity a good thing? Two people with diverse backgrounds will be able to learn more from each other, compared to two people who have had identical lives. Isn’t that why so many companies hire diversity management specialists? It is because they all strive to create a diverse workforce. So why should we shun away diversity where marriages are concerned? I know my in laws are the kinds who will be very rigid about caste and would not want their family members to marry ‘out of caste’. During one such conversation with my mother in law, I asked her why they are so particular about wanting people from the same caste and community. She said because it is important for them that they ‘preserve their culture’. So does that mean when you marry a person from a different caste, you let go of your own culture? Are we really that insecure? I always thought it was the other way. You pass on a bit of your culture to your partner, and you get to take a bit of his.

I come from a very small community, which is barely recognised. When I was little, my parents used to joke and ask me to marry a South Indian because of my undying love for Idlis. Little did they know that I would take them so seriously. But even at that age they were never against the idea of marrying out of caste..Nobody even knew much about ‘South Indians’ then. For us, they were just people who spoke strange languages we didn’t understand in the least bit, most of their Hindi accents were amusing, and they ate idlis and dosas. Yes, we were ignorant, but the ignorance started to shed away as the years passed.

Today I look at Mint and think of how different our backgrounds are. We belong to different castes, communities and regions. We grew up speaking different languages. Dig a little deeper and you’ll see we don’t even come from a common race. He is a Dravidian, and me an Aryan. All of this does reflect on us, only in a positive way though. Put the two of us together and we can speak English, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu and smatterings of Gujrati, Konkani and Sindhi. The food is a blend of pongal and sabudana khichdi, of idlis and vada pavs, of kozhambu and paneer masala,  of sambar and dal makhani, of dosas and parathas. The music we listen to and the movies we watch are a blend of English, Tamil and Hindi. We learn from each others thoughts and experiences. We live in sync with the differences and we now embrace and love the diversity. Our children will be a rich mix of our combined heritage. And I think that is a wonderful thing.

So I don’t see why we are so averse to people who are different from us. Why caste and sub castes are the highest criteria for a marriage. That is just sad.

57 Responses to “When different is good..”

  1. Preethi said

    Wonderful post Pepper…I love how you have phrased ‘the culture of diversity’. Ours was an arranged marriage, but we had more than 8 months time to understand each other and given the freedom the decline if we didnt feel comfortable with each other.

    I have noticed in so many inter-state(err..is that a word) how kids learn so many languages and get to know different cultures and traditions without having having to step out of their home. What a wonderful way to grow up for the kids.

    • Pepper said

      Thanks Preethi. Yours is the kind of arranged marriage I have high respect for. If only everybody were given sufficient time to decide like that…

  2. R's Mom said

    And even if you get married in the same caste…it doesnt really work..RD and me..both are from the tambram community..he is born in Kerala, brought up in Calcutta, studied in Aurangabad and speaks malayalam, tamil, bengali, marathi and of course hindi and english..I have been born in Calcutta, brought up in baroda and speak gujarati, tamil, marathi, hindi and english

    and our child – Speaks only mumbaiyya hindi…thats all

    and most people think he is a Bengali who has married a Gujarati – There you go!

    So you see..please tell people that there are strange creatures on this planet who are from the same caste but have NOTHING in common!

    Lovely post Pepper 🙂

    • Pepper said

      That is a very interesting point you’ve brought up R’s Mom. Even people within the same caste can have nothing in common. But even then caste is the biggest barrier where arranged marriages are concerned. Like the others say, it is probably because marrying within the caste ensures you follow the same customs and traditions.. What I hate is people refusing to bend and accommodate each other’s rituals and giving it more importance than a compatible partner…

      Regarding the languages, I think a child picks up most of the languages he/she is exposed to. Do you guys expose R to the other languages you’ve mentioned? If you do, then give it a few years and I can tell you she will pick up. We learn subconsciously without even knowing it.

  3. Deboshree said

    Applause Pepper! You brought out one fundamental truth in society which despite all its fundament remains strongly ignored and violated. I fail to understand why castes and races and languages continue to matter so much when it comes to marriage. I loved the point you made about insecurity. Hyping the “preservation of culture” part so much only goes out to prove how insecure of our beliefs and customs we really are. That isn’t just sad, it’s phenomenally sad.

    We talk of a diverse nation, so rich in culture and tradition. And yet at every opportunity we get to intermingle and see the best from various parts of the country, we balk. Indeed P, we need more people like Mint, you and your families. 😀

    • Pepper said

      Yes, it has to be a deep rooted insecurity if they believe following, or even letting others follow their own customs will mean letting go of their ‘culture’. How about ‘live and let live’?
      Jeez.. we’re not worthy of that praise 😀

  4. Sig said

    I can understand that the fear of the unfamiliar would make people think like this, but you said it perfectly that progress and technology has made the world a lot smaller.

    I am the same as you – not only is Evs not Indian, he’s about as ‘Western’ as it gets. But we make it work and we are happy. That should be the main priority – happiness right??

  5. DI said

    If only. There are so many people who do not accept their child’s choice of a partner, because said person does not belong to the smallest sub segment of their community. It is not seen as a combination of rich heritage, but a dilution of their own. It is sad, but it is also so prevalent, that you can only hope the mindset changes in the future.

  6. The common idea still is that the daughter will be staying with the in laws after marrying and if they are from the same caste, at least she’ll find itveasy to adapt herself.

    Pepper: True. But that is where the problem lies right? Expecting only the girl to adapt herself and lose herself in all the changes. Even if it is an arranged marriage and even if the girl has to live with the in laws, it can work quite well if it is a mutual exchange of ideas/customs/thoughts.

    In our cases, we have a strong bond with our partners which takes time to achieve for those marrying the arranged way.

    Pepper: Yes. But isn’t this just basic understanding and respect for each others ways? You don’t have to have a very strong bond to give your partner the freedom of choice, me thinks. And all this can be discussed by the couple before the marriage. If either one of them doesn’t seem understanding enough, then don’t go ahead with the match. I know I am being too idealistic 🙂

    The problem is more deep-rooted than it seems. It is not just to do with not letting go of a caste. It has also to do with subconsciously grooming daughters to become ‘dutiful’ DILs along with holding on to your caste.

    Pepper: You are right. But that is such a twisted connection. And parents of boys are equally or sometimes more hung up about the caste. But that again is because they believe girls from the same caste would be groomed as per their needs and would fit the mould of the ‘dutiful’ DIL. Sigh.

    People fail to see that marriages that work do not do so because of caste. It is because of something else that does not depend on such shallow matters like horoscopes, castes and religion. But ‘love’ is a dirty word, dishonourable even. And somehow even murder in the name of caste becomes honourable.
    One twisted species we humans are!

    Pepper: And I wonder when love will cease to be a dirty word. I hope we live to see that day.

    • Yup you nailed it. The woman is always expected to adapt herself. Reading your second point of reply, I am lost in thoughts. Why don’t people respect a human being for being just that? Why all these adjustment pressures? Most of it is towards ILs. Do you think if the norm changed that no matter what kind of a marriage it is, a couple lives on their own and away from the parents, maybe this caste crap would not matter anymore?

      • Pepper said

        What a thought provoking question that is CR! I don’t know the answer to that. From what I see right now, even parents of children who live away are very unwilling to let their kids marry out of caste. The mind sets are too rigid. But perhaps if the norm was to live away from parents after marriage, it would change a little? I don’t know. Very interesting thought!

  7. chandni said

    can’t agree more! Especially in these times, like you said when we’re all over the place, studying somewhere, working somewhere else! I had done a similar post a while back methinks!

    • Pepper said

      Precisely. With the kind of close knit world we live in, it is a bit unrealistic to expect there to be zero influence on each other. We are only being irrational and rigid, all in the name of ‘holding on to our roots’.

  8. Smitha said

    You know there have been scientific studies which indicate that partners with diverse backgrounds might have more intelligent/talented children. Apparently marrying within close communities have a larger possibility of passing on genetic diseases as well.

    As for culture, isn’t culture ever changing ? Isn’t it the best thing that both partners bring their own culture and together evolve something beautiful together.

    I cannot for the world understand why people insist on being so close minded.

    • Pepper said

      “As for culture, isn’t culture ever changing ? Isn’t it the best thing that both partners bring their own culture and together evolve something beautiful together.” – I can’t agree more. People can’t seem to accept the fact that culture is something that changes.

  9. UmaS said

    Love this post Pepper…. 🙂

    Just as u listed out the good things u and Mint have gained in ur marriage – thats the same thing these caste specific parents are scared of !!! They dont want new cultural influences on them…and they only want their culture to be followed all the time. These are the people who dont like CHANGE and unable to adapt to newer things…it’ll take time for each one of these people to change all over….probably the next generation will do much better. 🙂

    • Pepper said

      You are so right. If only they accept change as a part of life and stop resisting it so much, they would make it a lot easier for their own selves..

  10. Ashwathy said

    Sweetie in an arranged marriage, where the parents call the shots, when they say they want someone of the same caste, they are not looking at only the boy but also his parents and extended family. They are paying attention to the rituals, festivals, celebrations, customs etc. that come along with the package. From their mindset, the marriage is not only to the boy but to the entire family.

    Pepper: I know, I know. But how important these aspects are should be left entirely to the couple right? A lot of times parents are big on customs, rituals, festivals, but the children concerned are not. Ultimately, they have to spend their lives with each other. Beside that, why the hell can’t two different kinds of customs and rituals co-exist peacefully? I know you are merely pointing out the facts. The aversion to anything new is what gets me so mad.

    “Preserving the culture” like your in-laws said is also part of the reason. This is particularly true of a girl’s family.

    Are we really that insecure? I always thought it was the other way. You pass on a bit of your culture to your partner, and you get to take a bit of his.
    In the ideal scenario, yes this is what happens. In your case, you were lucky enough to get it. And especially since you and Mint live separately in a different country, away from parents and in-laws both, you are affected by it very little. All that matters is the difference between you both – whether you can thrash it out.

    Pepper: I know we live in a different country, away from the parents. But I wouldn’t call us lucky, I think we worked to get what we have. We might move back and be with the parents at some point, where all such effects might be strongly felt. But even then, we will continue to colour and inadvertently influence each other by our experiences and ways. It was, and is always a two way road. By having caste as a barrier, you might prevent yourself from meeting a person who is just like you in thought, one who is willing to accommodate, learn and share. So I don’t think I really understand why parents should use caste as a filter in this day and age.

    In a lot of cases, the girl is married off to the boys’ family and continues to live with in-laws for the most part. That makes it a difficult game for her where she has to constantly adjust to the new customs, traditions, rituals etc. for an entirely different culture. Traditionally girls used to live with their families and were protected from outside cultures. Today many girls are working in different cities from their parents and like you said, used to various cultures. Our generation thrives in the diversity.

    Pepper: Like I said, I fail to understand why only the girl has to do all the learning and adjusting. And I know some parents of boys who are well aware of the fact that the couple will live separately and will be relatively unaffected, but still insist on the same caste, and in the process, lose out on some good matches. I think even in an arranged marriage, a couple can determine the kind of person he/she will be as a partner. Some amount of basic assessment can work quite well provided you have the required amount of time.

    Ultimately it boils down to how open-minded the family is. Your parents were open-minded even from the beginning. Her parents are not so, even today. That underlines it, doesn’t it?
    Possibly they mean well, thinking that the adjustment becomes easier. Was your friend brought up in a rigid conservative upbringing with strict attention to rituals and values? Maybe they are trying to recreate that atmosphere so that it makes her comfortable because they think it is what she would like?
    What they do not realise is that the fundamental thing they should look for is the character and ability to adjust, even if they belong to the same caste…because each family – and individual – is different. They can have a similar upbringing and have a totally different outlook on life. Has your friend talked to her parents? Is she happy with this or does she want to look for someone else?
    It’s her choice. She and the parents should realize that.

    Pepper: My friend was brought up in a rigid environment which she absolutely abhorred. She says she has lived her life in a cage. And no, she hasn’t talked to her parents about this caste issue, because she believes it is pointless. Defying parents is something she has never known. She has resigned to the fact that her parents will look for a guy within the caste, so she makes herself happy with this. Sad, isn’t it?

    P.S.: BTW, love the title of this post 🙂

    • Ashwathy said

      Sounds like I am commenting on IHM’s blog 🙄 😀

      • Pepper said

        Lol! 😀 .. Very nice comment Ash. Thanks for your input.

        • Ashwathy said

          I think even in an arranged marriage, a couple can determine the kind of person he/she will be as a partner.
          While my dad was on the lookout for a match for me, not only caste, even the horoscopes had to match. His idea was that he was eliminating any chance for discord between us. I understand his fear 🙂 But I do not support it. To a large majority of our generations, these concepts are baseless…

          Pepper: I understand the fears parents go through too. But a lot of us cannot relate to and support their ways.

          Oh…! I almost forgot to explain a good example I know. My very good friend is a Mallu Christian…. he had a love marriage to his colleague a Bengali Hindu. The marriage is doing fine (touchwood!) with both parties adjusting well. His mother lives with them since his dad passed away, and since the birth of their son. The girl makes an effort to learn a bit of Malayalam, cook new dishes and generally mingle with their relatives. My friend in turn speaks Hindi, visit Kolkata often to see her relatives, mingles in with their culture. It helps that he was born and brought up outside Kerala so his approach to life is also different.

          Pepper: I loved your example! I think relationships work when the two people involved are not rigid and open to each others ways.

          One angle girls’ parents think of is kids. In majority of the cases, kids born in inter-case or inter-religious marriage automatically take the name and religion of the dad. In my opinion I always feel u let the kid grow and let him or her decide what he/she wants to take up – if at all they want to follow any religion. But I have not seen too many cases where it happens. Girls’ parents have that issue of losing their identity/religion in the coming generations.

          Pepper: When I wrote this post, I wasn’t talking about people looking for partners from different religions, it was only the small divisions of caste. So these issues do not apply there. But this is a very good point! Don’t know how I missed it. Parents are always worried about the kids, or rather grandkids. It isn’t just the girl’s parents. My in laws for example are always worried that our kids might not be able to speak Tamil. I think those are valid concerns, to an extent.

          Just a few thoughts that came to my mind 🙂

          Pepper: Very interesting thoughts 🙂

  11. I think what matters most is your core values match. Both of you feel similarly on your relationship with parents, your ideas on bringing up children etc -and of course fine-tuning of those ideas is what our cultural mix is about!

  12. SH said

    I am always fascinated by people who have a cross caste/religion marriage and are just perfect for each other. Not that cross caste/religion marriage is wrong or anything, its just that I feel an average Indian’s mentality is still a bit narrow minded.. So when two people from different religions get together I have loads of respect for them for breaking through the Indian marriage barrier. As my sister says “All that matters is you marry someone who loves you” 🙂

    • Pepper said

      I have a lot of respect for two people who have different faiths come together too. Then, it just shows that the partners involved are not insecure, and accommodate each others beliefs without letting that affect their relationship. 🙂

  13. Bikram said

    and yet we say we are all indians 🙂 are we NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO we are hindus-sikhs-muslims etc etc and not jsut that we are futrthur in to a hindu from maharashtra or punjab or kashmir.. a sikh from abroad or from Tamil nadu ..

    and not just that if one is a sikh then from punjab then is a jat or majhbi or naamdhari blah blah blah blah …

    I totally understand what you are saying thats why i smile and laugh when people say India is doing great we are developing.. All that comes crashing down when this happens and it happens everywhere …

    IF only people have same thoughts as you .. IF ONLY…

    • Pepper said

      Yeah, not only do we divide by religion, we also divide by caste, then by sub caste and then by even smaller segments, i wonder how much division there can be.
      If only.. yes..

  14. scorpria said

    “We live in sync with the differences and we now embrace and love the diversity. Our children will be a rich mix of our combined heritage. And I think that is a wonderful thing.” — this is absolutely fantastic. I wish every parent on the look out for a match for their children would think this way! 🙂

    • Pepper said

      🙂 .. I wish every parent would realise this too. Mixing two flavours might make the individual flavours lose a bit of their distinctiveness, but it also evolves a rich new flavour. I guess people don’t think that is good deal.

  15. binpin said

    I love your thoughts and sometimes how you clearly express what I have thought a thousand times.I so love how you expressed it in the food that is cooked.It was the same here. When I first came to U.S , I had a roomate who lived in Powai , Mumbai and she used to always refer to me as a “South Indian” .It used to irk me to the core! Then I educated her on the Southern states of India and I have lived in India for 4 years:). but I guess there are people in the southern part of India who call anything above Goa , North India! I think it takes more than caste or sub caste for two people to live in harmony and Im happy that at least some of us have reached that level of thinking.

    • Pepper said

      Lol. There is too much of ignorance that prevails. It causes more harm than we think. People base their decisions on the misconceptions they have about each other. We need to wake up.

  16. Scribby said

    this is 1. the oldie norm that one has to get married in the same caste,religion blah blah… 2, It’s about the insecurity also..when parents are looking for matches they usually prefer their girl going into the same caste because that will at least eliminate the basic difference customs and traditions that their girl would have to learn AND they too would have to,to some extent !..in other ways put the fear of unknown…the absences of openness to embrace a different culture despite of living in a country which is so varied in it’s heritage and culture 🙂

    Pepper: This entire system is faulty – expecting a girl to get married and keep adapting to new ways. But I am talking about today’s scenario, even if it involves a smaller percentage of people. So many couples who are going to live away from parents and are really not too deeply into any customs also have the caste barrier forced on them.That doesn’t make sense. Other than that, how different are the customs between two sub sets of a caste? They are so minute, they are hardly visible in everyday life today. So I understand if parents have a broad preference, but when they stoop to make such irrelevant divisions, it stops making sense to me.

    that’s the beauty of the whole thing…having said all that pepper,I also feel that you and Mint clicked despite of coming from different backgrounds and all that-good for you guys…but not necessary that the couple whose marriage is being ‘arranged’ would go through the same understanding of welcoming differences and enjoying them..cause for them as it is they are entirely new to each other to even a start new life together…so there !

    Pepper: Again, this is what I said about arranged marriages right in the beginning of my post. I think the couple needs a good amount of time and all such issues should be spoken about and sorted before they take the big leap. If they are really entirely new to each other and hardly know about each others personalities and behaviours, then perhaps they are not yet ready to marry. Then the marriage is nothing but a gamble. It may work, it may not. So I go back to my point – even in arranged marriages, parents can overlook the caste/subcaste, etc. Instead they can give the couple the time they require, and the freedom to say no. They might just find a good like minded partner who is compatible in every way then. Just my opinion.

  17. Wonderfully written post pepper! * Applauds *

    Multiple cuisines, multilingual kids, multiple festivities, richer traditions and an unsaid sharing of culture between the families. What’s not to like, I wonder?!

    Having said that, there are some times when I secretly wish H was from my community..especially when I struggle to explain him certain things ( food, language, tradition) that matter much to me..but doesn’t mean a thing to him ( though he tries hard). Don’t judge me..but thats just how I feel at times 😦

    • Pepper said

      Why would I judge you AHK? That is very valid and very relevant. But the whole point is that you had a choice, and you willingly got into this life long partnership, knowing the differences would surface. This is perhaps because you thought your love for him and your compatibility in other aspects was more important to you than what you just said. But choosing to be with your partner was your own decision.

      I am talking about typical arranged marriages where the person getting married is hardly given any choice. Instead of parents keeping a criteria like caste, etc, they can ask the person concerned what his/her criteria is. If the prospective girl or guy meets all the criteria set, then caste shouldn’t be an issue for the parents (Unless it is important to the person getting married.). By taking the caste filter out, you are able to connect with a larger number of people, and there by increase your chancing of finding a partner you are perfectly compatible with.

    • smartassbride said

      Very very beautifully written! How articulate you are!

      As for those people cornering you and asking 2000 questions from stone age, I’m glad you didn’t attempt to reason out with them or attempt to make them see your POV. These things never work with people who have minds so closed and sound proof.

      And I’m very very glad that you two are able to work it out among yourselves, and you’re absolutely right, your kids will have so much to learn from the two of you : languages, appreciating the difference etc.

      I’m still pointed at in social gatherings – no one ever had a love marriage in my family before and that’s seriously surprising considering how big my family is and that I’m the youngest female among my cousins. My parents were remarkable in the way they deal with the situation – we simply didn’t consult anyone, announced it to the world, and gave no opportunity to any “well meaning” relative to question my influence on the er, “younger generation”. Some people live and don’t learn. All we can do is ignore and thank our stars that we were born in a family that didn’t dish out shit like that.

      • Pepper said

        So well said SAB. The minds are not only closed, they are also sound proof. No amount of reasoning works.
        I applaud your parents. My parents were very supportive too, but it was easier for them. My family is full of love marriages. But your parents must have battled the pressure and still supported you. Cheers to such people.

  18. Comfy said

    I think when parents get in to the business of looking for a partner for their kid it becomes a matter of prestige. What will this Aunt say and that Grandmaa say. If they can’t check all the checkboxes as far as community, sub-community then ‘naak kat jaayega’. Somewhere along the line they forget to consider the simple fact that their kid might be more happy with someone else outside of the boundaries they build for their search.

    Pepper: Comfyji, I bow to thee! You have said it much better than I could. You are absolutely right. What others in the community will think plays a big role. It is what happened with the in laws. Most people are still worried about the ‘naak kat jaayega’.

    Also if you talk to them, you will hear over and over again that it is easy for the girl to adjust if she gets married to someone from similar background and culture. Why only the girl needs to adjust is beyond me. Marriage is more than meeting of cultures, it is more important that the minds come together.

    Another point I think which plays a big part is that the parents of the bride seem to understand the needs and demands of the groom’s family when things are fixed within the same community without having to explicit saying it out. Which as you know is a big deal in India. ‘Ladke waaloin ko khush rakhna’.

    Pepper: Right! That too. How sad!

    How I wish we get rid of all of these, grow out of all this and focus on the important things. The marriage bit. The bride and groom staying happy together. It is not about ‘hummne bhi to ke thi’. Times have moved on and we need to move with them.

    Pepper: Don’t even get me started on the ‘Humne bhi to ke thi’. That is the most annoying line ever. Agreed they did it, and it worked. Some were just fortunate. Others bore it all and made it work at all cost. Today, we are unwilling to allow patriarchy to trample upon our happiness. And times have moved on like you said. If people refuse to budge and move, they’re the ones who will be left behind. The world stops for nobody.

  19. mahes said

    Nice post, how much has our society changed? May be a little but the graph is going up for sure. I secretly wish that Dh is from a different community and state, would have been so much fun 🙂 I have a lot of respect and fascination for folks from different faiths being happily married.

  20. Chindi Chitranna said

    Most of these practices started with very good, and very practical objectives. But, as is the case with most of our traditions and beliefs, we follow them BLINDLY. It started earlier (when arranged marriages meant the parents met each other, and the children (who were probably really that, young children) did not have a say in the matter because how can you expect a 10-year-old to decide? I’m not saying child marriage was a smart idea, that’s another deal altogether. Anyway, when you have a pool to choose from,you have to use some kind of a filter, right? So caste, religion etc work, and give you an idea of families with an environment and lifestyle similar to that of your own, so you think they would be ideal for your daughter. Now, of course, these things are near-useless. There might be some cases where this works, but they’re exceptions during this day and age when most youngsters are exposed to other cultures. And of course, when you know the couple is compatible, you don’t have to pick someone whose family is compatible with yours and hope the couple will be ok!

    • Chindi Chitranna said

      That said, there are some cases in which these things do matter. I know, for instance, a non-meat, non-egg-eating girl who married into a family who eat non vegetarian food every. single. day. She can’t even stand the smell of it being cooked and they can’t stop eating it just because she married their son. How do you change such a fundamental thing? Some details turn out to be important, after all 🙂

      • Pepper said

        Being from the same caste doesn’t automatically ensure any similarity in habits either. I am a vegetarian, but most people from my community are not. Mint is a total carnivore, while his parents are pure veg. I know a lot of Tambrahms who cook and eat meat everyday in the US, but would hide it from their parents. It is consequently not taken into account when they hunt for a bride/groom, but incorrectly assumed that people from the same caste are similar.

        So the couple should discuss all these details between them before marriage anyway. Just restricting the caste is no guarantee by itself and doesn’t serve the purpose. Infact, ignorance and wrong assumptions may do more harm later when the “truth” is discovered.

  21. Mint said

    Oh you forgot the big one…I am Indian, and you Pakistani 😛

    And you mean I can speak English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu and you can speak English and Marathi with smatterings of Hindi, Gujrati, Konkani and Sindhi right? 😉

    • Pepper said

      Right. Just because my grandparents were from Pakistan,that makes me a Pakistani? Okay. I don’t mind.

      And shutup! Don’t get me mad again. I speak better Hindi than you, okay?

  22. Loved this post. You echo my sentiments exactly. I’m so glad to know your ‘diverse’ marriage is working out beautifully. 🙂

    I agree – two people from similar cultural backgrounds can have absolutely nothing in common with each other. On the other hand, we can find our soul mate in a person from a completely different community.. I believe people want their sons and daughters to marry in the same community because that way, they find it easier to adjust to the festivals, traditions, etc. of the extended family. Imagine the plight of a poor South Indian girl asked to cook daal baati in a rigid Marwari family for the first time, or that of a Gujarati girl having to eat nothing but rice, rice and more rice at her in-laws’ place.

    Pepper: I know. That’s not a very nice scenario. But I believe it should be left up to the couple to decide whether they want to get into it or not 🙂

    but today, many families are growing nuclear.. many couples are staying away from their parents.. and in such cases, these issues do not arise.. even if they do, they are tackled in a much better way. IMHO.

    ours was a strange sort of arranged match. we met in 2007, and in the 10 minutes we talked to each other, we decided not to get married, because we felt our personalities did not match. then somehow, we got in touch on messenger and kept in touch, and realised we were actually good for each other. finally we got married in 2009. we conveyed our decision to our parents, and they accepted it whole heartedly. they wanted our match to happen from the very beginning. 🙂 so that’s that… i come from a very diverse background than his.. i have totally brought up in gujarat (in spite of being a Chennaite by birth) and he is from Bangalore. Our food habits and everything are different. We get along because we both have the freedom to choose what we want to do and what we don’t want to. I doubt it would have worked out the same way if I were forced to follow their traditions blindly.

    Pepper: That’s wonderful. You were not under any pressure to say ‘yes’ in the beginning, and you guys got enough time to interact later on and decide. That’s how it should be everywhere. Your last few lines say it all. Ultimately it boils down to having the freedom to do what you want to do, and finding a partner who gives you that freedom.

    i know that’s a rather long rant, but i hope you got my point….

    Pepper: This wasn’t long. Either ways, I love long comments, whatever they are.

  23. vishalbheeroo said

    Hey Pepper
    it’s been long and hws u doing? I’m glad you put this post. It seems some people living in some other world and still chained by their prejudice and blind beliefs about caste and religion. It’s sad that despite globalization, consumerism and education we are still stuck in blind beliefs.
    Superb post

  24. Ram Pyaari said

    hmm interesting post! but often people find it diffcult to deal with differences….maybe that is why parents want to ensure that the girl is sent to a family that is as similar to theirs as is possible…

    • Pepper said

      Like I said, I think individual differences will exist irrespective of the cast. Even if parents want to ensure that the girl is sent to a family as similar as theirs, they should let the girl decide what differences she can live with, and what she can’t. If the girl wants to be married into the same caste, then it ends there. But if the girl (or boy) doesn’t think the caste or the differences matter, then I don’t think the parents should set that as their top most criteria.

  25. Homecooked said

    LOL…tell me about it. I am a Mangalorean Catholic married to a Gujju Catholic and you wont believe the qtns I had to field. One friends mom even told me…you are marrying an outsider! I was gobsmacked. Most of them couldnt understand my dad agreed to this match 🙂 Thank God, my parents saw the qualities of the boy not the region his dad came from!

  26. S said

    Absolutely loved your post, Pepper…read your blog fairly regularly but have delurked for the first time, coz this issue is really close to my heart…principally because I am in the middle of a “groom-hunting exercise” by the parents.

    Loving, understanding and progressive as the parents are, when they started to look for a groom for me, they did the predictable…look for a groom who matched my family to the last tiny detail. Their reasons? You got it, the same “it’ll be easier for you to adjust/ you’ll be familiar with all rituals etc. coz you’ve seen it from childhood/ with the same cultural background y’all will understand each other better”..all really well meaning and stuff.

    They found one apparent super match too, but reality couldn’t have been more different. And so, I experienced first hand what R’s Mom and the others talk about above…how two people apparently belonging to the same community could be poles apart…nothing was common between us, apart from the language we speak, and other technical details like caste etc. No, not even interests…we couldn’t even have a conversation for more than 5 mins, would you believe it?

    After that incident, the parents have thankfully gone back to being their sensible selves and assured me that they’ll get their daughter married only into a family where she’s happy, and not one which matches the technical criteria.

    And Comfy nailed it on the head while talking about the family prestige thing…coz the parents, after some gentle questioning, did sheepishly admit that one of the reasons they were insistent on the groom being from the same community was that the extended family would otherwise have raised a collective eyebrow at the choice of the groom, not because of any other reason, but because the parents were looking. So apparently the extended family’s logic is that if one chooses their own partner, the family doesn’t have much choice but to accept it, but where it’s a family sanctioned and arranged union, the groom and the bride should be clones…strange!

    And of course, this whole adjustment by the girl business annoys me no end! I’ve had to hear lectures from prospective parents in law which began with “In our family, daughters in law do this/ don’t do this/ jump into the well when we ask them to…yada yada yada” All this, while the prospective groom is of course expected not to have to change one lil thing…drives me nuts! Sad that this is true in today’s India, that too for educated, professionally established, independent girls and boys.

    I could say more, but I am optimistic…I believe things are beginning look up…it will take time, but surely one day soon, we’ll see happily diverse couples like you and Mint. God bless you both!

    • Pepper said

      Thanks a lot for delurking and sharing your experience S 🙂
      I am glad your parents realised what they were doing. People really need to understand that same caste doesn’t guarantee any kind of similarity.
      I wish you and your parents all the luck in your groom hunt! Come back and tell me when you find the right guy 🙂

  27. Kanthu said

    U know wat.? My dad’s a Tamilian and Mom is Telugu, and I was born and brought up in Karnataka(yes, theirs was a love marriage..:-)). Many a times or most of the times I do not feel the kind of affection one has for their language or region. May be due to the multicultural background. But still if I have to go for a Arranged marriage, my parents would search someone from our(..?) religion and mostly a Tamil girl. I think its a parent’s thing. If by chance I take home to my parents, a girl who doesn’t speak Tamil or Telugu or Kannada as my wife, I would assure you that they would have apprehensions about it. I still cant understand how this things work..

    • Pepper said

      Really? They still wouldn’t accept a DIL who doesn’t speak one of their languages, despite having a choice marriage themselves? That’s sad. But if the time comes, you always have a weapon in hand. You can remind them of the fact that they married somebody who didn’t speak their language either!

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