Life Abroad _ Part 49 HOLY MATRIMONY……..? IS IT…..!
Posted on October 18th, 2013

Dr. Tilak Fernando

Cdn-2010-tag---In-Focus----_1.jpgOpen the Marriage Proposal columns and what do we see? Virtually two full pages of matrimonial advertisements! These are paid classified insertions by parents or close relatives seeking assistance to help their loved ones to settle down in matrimony. Even in the 21st century most of the Sri Lankan elders seem to dwell in old stereotype pre-conditioned ideas of their caste, creed, pedigree, religion or wealth!

It does not make much of a difference in London either among the Sri Lankan diaspora where this pattern has become contagious. In Sri Lankan tabloids published in the UK one could read statements such as ‘Buddhist Parents’, ‘Respectable Christians’, ‘Karawa Catholics’ etc’ dominating the marriage scene. Even some who claim to be ‘open-minded’ tend to think that the display of their filthily rich resources offering millions in cash and property can be made the magic wand to ‘get rid of their daughters’ to eligible men of their choice!z_p07-HOLY-1.jpg


The six million dollar question is whether these dogmatic parents give an atom of thought to such ‘arranged’ marriages’! Marriage is a lifelong contract and a commitment between two individuals. In modern times the old theory of ‘wed now love later’ formula does not seem to work all the time as is evident from the increase in number of divorce cases. The new generation disregards and turns a Nelsonian eye to any social stigma attached to the term ‘divorce’ or ‘divorcee’! Is it then the main cause answerable to the upsurge of divorces today as personalities clash and incompatibility begins to raise its ugly head even among the so called ‘educated’ where women are becoming mistresses and men turn to philanderers in a totally concealed world?

‘Arranged marriages’ do still exist in Britain no doubt. The majority of the so-called ‘sophisticated’ first generation of Asians appears to seek a moderate approach today to the arranged marriage by showing their willingness at least by pretending subtly that they give their daughters the ultimate choice to make their own mind up on a future partner.

Superficially though, it certainly gives a different twist to the whole issue of the ‘arranged marriage’ when pedantic parents pretend to alienate from the ‘old school’ to which they were once disciplined and conditioned as teenagers in their own cultures. This becomes evident when their daughters born and bred in a different culture do not attach any importance to what their parents’ view point on a modern marriage simply because such children do not know any other culture than to which they are born in! Only during the past few years, with the increase in Sri Lankan population in the UK, that parents have thought about building up a Sri Lankan cultural background among their children yet to those born in the West it is completely alien to their parents backgrounds, from ‘their culture’ to ‘mother tongue’!

Conflicting ideas

Young Asian girls brought up in Western surroundings have learnt about a different way of life. They believe that marriage is NOT a mere contract to be arranged as a matter of convenience between two sets of families to safeguard their business interests or not to drift away from their cast, creed, nationality, stringent religious disciplines or least of all just to please their parents!

In an inevitable current of the ocean of Western and Eastern cultures the young Asian girls tend to blame their parents for the lack of understanding ‘being old fashioned and stereotype’. Their parents, on the other hand, seem to take the view that there’s nothing to understand about their daughters, except their maiden fear! The gulf between them therefore can become enormous.z_p07-HOLY-2.jpg

The Asian parents in Britain try to take a more liberated approach to arrange marriages for their daughters who have been caught up in a whirlpool of cultural current. They like to make the ‘arranged marriage’ in Britain look modern by taking the pride in telling their daughters that the girls born and grow up in Britain have a choice (through parents pre-selection of course) as opposed to their parents having had to marry first and fall in love later!

The majority of young, beautiful and intelligent liberalised Asian girls would like to utilise their ‘democratic right to vote.’ They would rather invite one of their own choices home for a ceremonial lunch, a compatible partner whom they know, and whom they can trust, understand and love only after developing a gradual friendship first. To them such a choice would be their ‘dream coming true’ and possessing their own ‘price-catch’.


With all the misunderstandings and undercurrents that exist within Asian family circles in Britain a lot of emphasis is still given on the ‘arranged marriage’ in a completely different rhythm. This is supposed to avoid any backlash or misunderstanding which might lead to the child-parent relationship. So, how do parents overcome such pranks in a most subtle manner which the young daughters get up to? The following illustrates a ‘typical ceremonial ploy arranged by some ‘clever’ parents on a Sunday lunch at the girl’s house.

The table is laid, cutlery is glistening away, and aroma of spices undoubtedly sharpens everyone’s taste buds! Girl’s brother is in a bow tie and suit. The pet sister is in a beautiful Royal blue silk sari, the guineapig (the boy) talks about his career, his family and his brilliant innovative ideas for the future.

The girl’s father nods, mother smiles in admiration, brother is bored to tears. The girl obviously does not approve of the whole thing and stares daggers at him, thus completes a mise-en-scƒ¨ne of a modern arranged marriage in London.

Gone were the days when the groom’s family ended up in procession from the grandfather upwards at the girl’s house to get a glimpse of the prospective bride. Do they discuss the dowry at all during the occasion? No! Because the question that likens her to be a commodity may be seen as a cold, calculated one. However, one that exists under the razzmatazz of a wedding, if the lunch goes well is politely known as a dowry.

In the past many have come and liked her and gone, but she had not liked even one! At the ceremonial lunch girls parents had popped off in order to leave the young couple together for a while in the hope they would begin to like each other. But the sultry techniques designed had only managed to turn ‘the young man’ into a nervous wreck. If everything else failed, the girl had a set of questions ready that even the Scotland Yard MI 5 would have been too polite to ask from the young man! Finally if the man likes the girl and vice versa, they agree to get married. On the surface it looks very much a casual and a democratic affair. On the contrary, if the girl does not like the ‘prospective’ man they pretend through lunch and part for ever after.

Gradually her parents have got used to see perfectly confident young men walking into their house and, after lunch, see them walking out completely shattered. In similar fashion the girl had met many prospective grooms from professionals to successful entrepreneurs before. The rejection process is the most agonising aspect of an arranged marriage in society. Ethnic community in London are comparatively small and closely knit too and the word, therefore, spreads like wild fire and no one wants others to know that their daughter was rejected! The parents may never call the party again!

Although the system of a dowry was initiated generations ago for a valid reason the amount given has increased too over the years by more than hundred fold! In fact, it has in certain cases turned into a more of an exhibition and competition among the rich Asians. All these lead to a situation where the arrange marriage is being made to look like a business proposition, rather than a holy union or matrimony.

The majority of young, beautiful and intelligent liberalised Asian girls would like to utilise their ‘democratic right to vote.’ They would rather invite one of their own choices home for a ceremonial lunch, a compatible partner whom they know, and whom they can trust, understand and love, only after developing a gradual friendship first. To them such a choice would be their ‘dream coming true’ and possessing their own ‘price-catch’. So the battle goes on, parents living in their dream world and, in between, losing their temper, suffering from high blood pressure and anxiety while the girls themselves becoming confused and desolate not knowing whether they will ever be able to marry their own choice or end up as ‘frustrated crotchety old dames’!

The message that is sinking into some of those ‘disciplinarian’ type old fashioned parents is:

Let’s not get carried away and give a mansion and S class Mercedes Benz to a man for taking the daughter away – unless the Benz is given to take her away fast!

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This Institution of Marriage.
In the Christian sense it is a Holy Covenant , instituted by God himself when he united Adam and Eve according to the Bible.
The greatest wedding as far as the Christians are concerned was the marriage of Cana in Galilee where Jesus was present physically,and what a difference it made . He performed his first miracle by turning water into wine, thereby saving the hosts from ignominy . There is a tendency to treat this Biblical story with contempt . by non believers . The wedding is recalled at most Christian Weddings .The man and woman enter into a covenant to live together at all times till death parts them.
It is unfortunate that people enter into wedlock without knowing its implications . For them its only a matter of loving wedding ring marrying and suffering . How sad it is now to see this ‚ highly commercialised .
For Satan , its first target of attack is a Christian Home, and a home for that matter. It is the smallest of all associations although the most important.
So it is my hope and prayer that all who enter wedlock will enter with understanding and bring up children in a god fearing atmosphere.
For Christians it is stated that a family that prays together stays together

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