Arranged marriages are as typically Asian as chaa (that’s tea for those who don’t know!) and samosas, right? I’ve even heard it said that “they are the heartbeat of Asian tradition. Without this pulse coursing through our lives, everything we know….as British Asians….starts to die”.
Well, if that’s true, then our community must be dying because it’s no secret that many young British Asians are side-stepping arranged marriages and carrying out their own search for love. As life in the West influences our lifestyles and our identities, it’s also influencing how we marry- which is increasingly on our own terms. Family suitability and even parental approval are not as high on our agenda as love, shared interests and sexual compatibility.
Internet dating, dating apps, going out with work colleagues and friends-of-friends are all fair game amongst young British Asians in meeting The One. Even parents are starting to come around to this idea.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking arranged marriages. There are many happily married couples in my own extended family were arranged.
But let’s be clear, for most, arranged marriages are essentially the joining of two compatible families. The right caste, religion, race, not forgetting job status and looks all make a good marriage, by Indian standards.
But if we are marrying for love, where the priorities are often different to those of the older generation, some argue that we are eroding our community: Inter-marrying of castes, religions and races lays the foundation for a different community of tomorrow: mixed race children, mixed caste or mixed religion children (if there is such a thing) means a very different British Asian community of the future. That’s multiculturalism at work. And for those who are fiercely loyal to their Asian heritage, well it’s that erosion that is the problem with us dating “like Westerners.”
Those who have chosen the dating route would argue that only they- and not their parents- can know who is right for them; that they alone should be in full control of making one of the biggest decisions of their life. And because of this control, it could be said they are ensuring stronger marriages that have been entered into wholeheartedly; rather than because they make the family happy.
The fact is we are evolving as a community. Tomorrow’s British Asian community will look different to today’s, for a number of reasons not just those outlined here. Really, we cannot insulate ourselves against change, we have to embrace it, and all the while enjoy and celebrate the many, many other things that ‘make us’ British Asian.
This post was originally published on Indian Connect