Long ago, when education was not a common thing in the sub-continent, families were represented by their skill / profession. Each family had a specific skill set that was passed on down the generations. The son of a cobbler was a cobbler, the son of a barber was a barber and so the list goes on. The social status of each family was also governed by their family profession. And thus, the best compatibility between two families existed when they belonged to the same social status, i.e., similar profession. As a result, people would always prefer getting married within their own or a profession-similar family.
It’s 2016 now and times have surely changed. Almost everyone in our urban society gets the opportunity of education, Alhumdulillah. People rise in the corporate world based on their hard work rather than their grandfather’s profession, for the most part. Talent is appreciated and diversity is acknowledged. Grandkids of tailors, shop keepers, and government servants sit together in schools, universities and offices. And those who work hard do find success, sooner or later.
Then why do we still believe in “bradri rishta” (marriage within the family) even though we all are educated and the professional gap does not matter anymore?
What’s the big deal if people still go for “bradri rishta”?
1- Cousin marriages are not recommended medically. It has been scientifically proven. And people aren’t enough open-minded to go for a comparative medical test before getting married.
2- The “bradri rishta” is usually enforced in our society, especially on women. Apparently, parents think that their kids aren’t smart enough to be included in the biggest decision of their lives.
3- Emotional blackmail is the strongest tool in a desi house. People take “bradri rishta” too emotionally and later, repent on their decision for the rest of their lives. I know several men and women who struggle their whole lives to find happiness in their marriage.
4- Slightly open-minded families allow their kids to choose their life partners by themselves BUT within the “bradri” only and also IF the parents agree. This is absurd and totally unfair.
5- Engaged? But you’re still not allowed to talk, see or communicate in anyway with your fiancé. Why not? Because it might manifest the mismatch between your personalities and damage the engagement. Well, why not end the relationship now before you realize you have 3 kids and its too late.
6- The “bradri rishta” is also an extremely soon process for women and too slow for men. They impose it on young girls shattering their dreams, career and education. And they usually take centuries in case of men, not to mention the huge age gap between the resultant husband and wife.
7- There’s a strong misconception that “bradri rishta” will be durable. Actually, its the compatibility of mindset that makes a marriage successful, not the fact that you belong to the same bloodline. Family pressure might cause a couple to stay together longer but it can’t bring happiness in their lives and their relationship becomes a ticking time-bomb.
What to do?
IMO the “bradri rishta” stops people from growing, experiencing cultural diversity, developing tolerance and opening their mind. I strongly believe that it is a huge crime to not let someone choose their life partner. Financial compatibility, educational status and similar life goals are important when making the “rishta” decision but mere “bradri” as a yard stick is preposterous. Nothing should be more important than the parameter of compatibility between the man and woman. So let’s grow up, learn to agree to disagree and respect other’s freedom to make their own decisions.
Imagine the suffering that you cause to your loved child / sibling for the rest of their lives, just because you’re stuck with a practice that expired a century ago.
“Everyone has dreams, ideals, and the right to choose their own future.”
by Umer Fiaz Abbasi
Thanks Zaki Malik for your help in this article.
Photo Credits: www.elmerescobar.com