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Arranged Marriages in the Sikh Diaspora

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Arranged Marriages in the Sikh Diaspora by Michael Colley Many Westerners, who have grown up with the idea that marriage is the ultimate bond between two people who have fallen in love, find the idea of arranged marriages alternately fascinating and bizarre. But in areas in the world where arranged marriages are practiced (such as India), they seem as natural as the idea of "falling in love" seems to us. One of the interesting things about Sikhs, as wells as some other groups of people in India, is that they have moved to many different parts of the world and taken much of their culture with them. Because of this, there is an opportunity to see what happens when two different cultures interact and perhaps exchange or adapt to each other's ideas. The focus of this paper is the see how the dispersal of Sikhs around the world has affected the practice of arranged marriage and their attitudes about it. As anthropologists often note, most marriages in the world are not just alliances between individuals; they are also alliances between families. From this point of view, the concept of arranged marriages start to make a little more since. ...read more.


Because Sikhs are generally very attached and dedicated to their family and their culture, this is often a tough decision. On one hand, they do not want to disobey their parents by marrying someone that they do not approve of. And on the other hand, for those that have been introduced to the concept of dating, they do not want to leave the choice of whom they are going to spend the rest of their life with entirely to their parents. Ideally what happens in such situations is that a compromise is made between the children and the parents. For example, the parents may decide that it is okay for their son or daughter to choose his or her own mate as long as it is someone from the same caste with a good family. Of the children may decide to let their parents arrange their marriage, but will only agree to marriage after meeting the person and getting to know him or her. As you might expect, however, such compromises are often not reached. Many Sikhs have posted their opinions about arranged marriages on internet discussion groups. One of the most commonly reoccurring topics is the question of whether or not people should marriage outside of their own caste and/or religion. ...read more.


Of course not all young people agree with this point of view. Many are convinced that marriages based on love have a far better chance of lasting than arranged marriages. They often site examples of arranged-marriages-gone-wrong to prove their point. One of the most poignant of these stories I found was by a girl who was born in England and later came to the US. She had already been dating for a long time before she got married, and had even had two guys propose to her. But she claims she agreed to an arranged marriage only to please her parents. After her wedding, she had the feeling that she was by herself alone in a hotel with a guy she barely knew who was supposed to be her husband. She said she felt more like a prostitute. Obviously, there is no easy answer to the question of which form of marriage is "better" than the other. Perhaps it is meaningless to ask such questions, since both forms of marriages are a traditional part of the cultures in which they are found. And in each of these cultures, there are example are when these marriages work and when they don't. The greatest insight to be gained is when different form of marriages come in contact, for this is when the differences and similarities between them are clearly seen. ...read more.

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