Marriage Rituals In India And United States

2566 words - 10 pages

Marriage can be defined as the formal union of a man and a woman, typically recognized by law, by which they become husband and wife (Webster’s Dictionary). Although this definition of marriage is common in many different parts of the world, the way people decide who to marry varies greatly. The selection process used to decipher who to spend the rest of their life with is a daunting task and most people go about it differently. In the United States, love is what most people think is the major factor in determining whether or not to marry someone. Americans have a choice when it comes to marriage today, and although their parents are usually asked permission to wed, individuals decide for themselves if they would like to spend the rest of their life with one another. In India, however, this is not normally the case. Parents in India are in control of who their children marry and parental opinions are never ignored. Marriage for those living in India is everything but optional. Indians believe that marrying is the first step into adulthood, and who they marry shows signs of wealth. Families try to pair their children with someone who is able to follow in their social footsteps and help with the biological reproduction in families. Marriage is almost socially required in India and is not taken lightly (U.S. Library of Congress). Differing from the United States, marriage in India is usually out of the control of those being wed.
One of the most common practices used in India involves arranged marriages. These rituals have been around since the fourth century. Most consider it a main part of Indian culture because it involves the social, geographic, and historical significance of those living in India. Arranged marriages first had the purpose of maintaining upper class families. Most females are married at the age of 24 and men are married in their later twenties. The arranged marriage rituals vary based on whether the family is of Hindu or Muslim descent, and each one has their own way of planning (.
In the Muslim religion, a parent’s job is not complete until their daughter is married. It is a parent’s responsibility to provide education and a spouse for their child to marry. Among the Muslim religion, the marriage of cousins is encouraged. This includes cross cousins and parallel cousins. Even if they do not marry cousins they typically trace relations through kin linkages. The groom’s parents are responsible for making the initial step in an arranged marriage. They must find eligible girls for marrying and ensure their son is ready to be married. After a girl has been selected, the groom’s father sends a letter to the bride’s father asking permission for his son to marry the man’s daughter. If the girl’s father accepts the invitation, a ceremony is held at the bride’s house where the groom’s father again asks the bride’s father for permission. A feast is then held and sometimes gifts are exchanged after the “asking”...

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