Preset Love: India

Have social upbringing and religions restricted us from being who we are and who we should love?

Being such a large country, India feels just like a continent. It covers 3.29 million km2, an ever-increasing 1.23 billion population with an incredible diversity in cultures, food cuisines, landscapes and languages. Above all, is the birthplace of four of the world’s major religions, namely Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, whilst Christianity and Islam are also widely practised.

Arranged marriages are very common here and parents generally take the responsibility to choose a partner from the same caste for their children, despite whether the child wishes to get married to that person or not. I have met many women and men alike who have expressed their love for a person they were forbidden to be with, since their parents had already chosen someone ‘more suitable’ for them.

For example, I once met a girl on a train who spoke sadly of her lover who was from a different cast, and whom she had secretly been seeing for over two years. Her parents had arranged for her to get married to another man, and that was to happen one week after our conversation. She explained how she would have to live with him, cook for him and serve him for the rest of her life. This, despite the love she felt for the other man, who unfortunately, she would never be allowed to be with. She went on to say that she would rather die than be married to someone else, but she had no choice. The couple could not afford to run away together so, for the sake of her family she was going to go ahead with the arranged marriage, knowing that she might be miserable for the rest of her life.

I met someone else who had actually rebelled against her family’s beliefs and married a man who was not from her cast. She explained that her mother had stopped speaking to her for thirteen years because of her marriage. His family was from another Hindu cast and therefore, never accepted her or showed her any respect. Then, the day came when his family did everything in their power to drive her away and this led the couple to separate. She was left with no husband and no family to go back to and she now realises that following your heart in this country can be very difficult.

This made me wonder. Do most inter-cast and inter-racial couples face these problems? Are we not free as human beings to choose whom to love? In the west, we consider this as a basic human right.

This is certainly not always the case. In some parts of India, certain human rights are far different from what we take as for granted in the West, so despite what problems you may have in daily affairs, do appreciate that you have the choice in the first place.