By Shobhan Bantwal
Author of THE SARI SHOP WIDOW and other novels about India
Despite my nearly 36-year-old arranged marriage and my conservative childhood in small-town India, I’m a hopeless romantic. Surprised? Why else would I write books that most people think of as “Bollywood in a Book,” stories bubbling with drama, emotion, colorful characters, rich cultural elements, and most importantly romance?
Contrary to popular western belief, modern Indian arranged marriages are indeed rooted in mutual liking and respect. Most couples have the choice of rejecting each other if they take an instant dislike or have serious doubts about a future together.
I firmly believe it is possible to have romance in a relationship built on a practical foundation. In fact, when parents of potential brides and grooms do a lot of discreet research before finding suitable mates for their children, they invariably choose someone with similar tastes, family values, and compatible economic and social backgrounds.
When there is so much going for a couple, not to mention support from both families, the chances of a smooth transition from single to married status are likely to be very high. Adjusting to someone who has so much in common with oneself is easier, and so is the potential for falling in love.
Many seem to view arranged marriage as a quaint and antiquated custom of two strangers hopping blindly into a loveless union forced by their elders. Nonetheless, from personal experience as well as the experiences of my near and dear ones, I can safely say arranged love is a safe kind of love that may be slow to ignite, mature, and stabilize, but it is an abiding love that often lasts a lifetime. I call it “arranged love.”
Statistics have proved that arranged marriages have a much higher survival rate. Besides, isn’t every marriage or long-term relationship a gamble to some degree, no matter which way the partners meet? I have to confess though, that my fiction is vastly different from my personal life. In my stories, the hero and heroine fall in love and at times go against society’s dictates.
I would love to hear your thoughts on arranged love. Do you think there is some merit to this archaic concept, and is it conducive to romance, or is it a recipe for disaster?
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To read Shobhan’s bio and the back cover blurb for THE SARI SHOP WIDOW, please see yesterday’s post. To learn more about Shobhan and her books, check out her website.