Have you ever picked up a book just by accident, and it has really turned out to be a good one that really makes you think about things? This happened to me sometime back, when I was outside a second hand bookshop in Powai to kill of sometime before my flight to Norway. I ended up buying a book called “Love will follow”, with the subtitle “Why the Indian marriage is burning”
I must admit that I have not yet finished the book yet, but it really gives you some input into the importance of marriage in India. After having been here almost a year now, I do start to understand the importance of marriage here, and how it kind of bind together the whole Indian society.
Let me give you some examples from the book. According to Indian Census, in 2001 the average mean age at marriage was 18, 3 years for women and for men 22, 6 years! I know this is ten years ago, but still… The numbers are the official numbers, and I would not be surprised that there are some dark figures here that make them even lower. In 1991 the divorce rate was 7.41 per 1000 in rural areas and 11 per 1000 in urban areas. In 2008 8000-9000 divorces were projected annually, double the number four years ago, in Delhi, also called the divorce capital. I don’t have the latest number from Norway, but it is said that about 50 % of marriages ends in divorce. This probably takes into consideration those who marry more times.
Why is it like this? It is no doubt that incredible changes have come to India with lightning speed. For me, who work in the IT sector I can see this every day. I see young colleagues coming in to the office, and they will probably earn more in a year than what they parents have earned in their whole life. And they also have all the opportunities that their parents never had. Both opportunities like cars, parties, drugs and other things in India, and off course the opportunity to travel and see how things work abroad.
The book also tells some other strange, or should I say bizarre stories about marriages in India. One story tells about a girl from a rural area in Orissa who married a snake she “fell in love with”. The wedding was marked with fanfare and attended by 2000 people, and the local elders of the village gave their blessings to the couple and even offered a feast to all those who attended. In another case, a seven year old girl from Bhubaneswar was married off to a dog! Permission for this particular marriage was given by the village elders. In the tribal girl-dog alliance, 150 guests danced to drum beats and drank home-made liquor. To the credit of the canine, he arrived fashionably, wearing sunglasses, to the ceremony held under a decorated canopy.
This is just two of the stories in this book. I will surely give you an update when I’m done with the book, and also try to analyze WHY it is like this in India.
Talk to you soon!