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Arranged marriage in India is modernizing ... but perhaps not fast enough

November 19, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Ananya was 15 when she watched her older sister marry a man she barely knew.

I think 19 is too young to get married," says Ananya, who requested to use an alias to discuss personal family matters.

Ananya's parents chose her sister's husband, as well as partners for her two other sisters, who got married when they were 22 and 26 years old.

Arranged marriages are still the norm in India, but there's a growing trend for some women to choose their own partners -- or to not marry at all.

Instead of relying on family connections, many young Indians and their parents are turning to online marriage sites to find a partner.

Arranged marriages date back centuries as a way for upper caste families to maintain their status and consolidate assets.

You're dehumanized to such an extent and I don't think the families even realize this," said Mira, a 26-year-old lawyer who lives in New Delhi.

If a match is made -- either through a marriage site or word of mouth -- the prospective couple often then have a handful of "dates," usually chaperoned by family members.

Ananya said her success outside the family home had helped to convince her father that there was no need for her to rush into marriage.

Sanjay Chugh, a psychiatrist and therapist in New Delhi, who has worked with couples for 35 years, said young Indians are taking advantage of the arranged marriage system to meet people -- and they're spending more time getting to know each other before exchanging vows.

"Arranged marriages are a system here and it's not going away in a hurry," said Chugh.

Pallavi -- not her real name -- said this modern approach to an arranged marriage worked well for her.

It was up to me to get married or not," she said.

She says her perspective on marriage -- and life more broadly -- changed when she left home for the city, where she met people from different backgrounds and castes.

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