To a child, marriage is often about Prince Charming and his princess falling in love and living happily ever after. As the child enters her teenage years, marriage is about a strange commitment that is ‘clubbed’ with love and raging hormones. Soon, adulthood strikes! The definition of the ‘m’ word, thus, becomes a dilemma between money or ‘matri-money’.

The beginning

All discussions about marriage revolve around certain aspects including - a way of life, companionship, a parent’s burden, children, raising children, companionship after retirement.

The ‘Highest Common Factor’ that links all these features is MONEY. How? Well:

1. A way of life – you need money to live

2. Companionship – pleasing the other requires some money

3. A parent’s burden – only if the parents are financially sound, would they conduct a grand wedding and fulfil their responsibilities (or so many say!)

4. Children – having a family requires financial planning

5. Raising children – even diapers cost parents ‘an arm and a leg’

6. Companionship after retirement – that is when you are likely to have all the time in the world to travel and enjoy weddings

Thus, the hunt begins.

The price for a prince

About a little more than a decade ago, finding the ‘ideal’ spouse implied hours before a newspaper’s classifieds columns and never-ending wedding rendezvous.

Today, it is all about the world of websites, portals and apps. Technology has, as a matter of fact, permitted not only parents to find life-partners for their children but even prospective candidates to find their so-called better halves.

The ironies of this scenario are worth a laugh or two.

First, most matrimonial portals or dating apps are managed by people who have never had an arranged married or a tough time dating. Marriage proposals or even dates are beyond phone numbers and personal information (which in most cases is hidden and revealed only upon paying a massive sum of money).

Second, matrimonial profiles have lately become at par with flight ticket reservations. There is even a ‘premium’ category for prospective bridegrooms and brides. Oh fear not, there are no free lunches even in the online world!

Splurge or scrounge

Face it. Even if you were to merely sign a sheet of paper, confirming the relationship, you are bound to shell out a few ‘Gs’ in the name of ‘Holy Matrimony’. For those who still believe in ‘a generous donation in the name of marriage’, parents have shelled out most of their money building and securing their child’s future. If the additional expenditure on matrimonial portals do not account for the ‘donation’, then it is time to look deeper into the meaning of marriage.

A relative had once spoken of a marriage-broker who charged Rs 25,000 each from the bridegroom’s family and bride to find the perfect match. Again, how would she know? (This made me question the need for education, for gambling with one’s life requires no talent or skill!)

Me, myself and marriage

My parents and my elder brother have showered me with all the love and care in the world. As a result, marriage was never a constant need. Sure, I felt left out when I saw married couples becoming ‘partners-in-crime’. But, it seemed too complicated for me.

At the age of 23, my mother rejoiced upon learning about a man enquiring about my ‘availability’ for the sake of a distant relative’s son. No, she was not pushing for marriage. But Amma (my mother) was thrilled to acknowledge my chances in the ‘marriage market’.

As a journalist, tragedies of weddings and its demands are no stranger to me. Be it the jewellery, the venue or any other element – a wedding is expensive. Sure, you could cut costs by conducting a registered wedding, scrapping the ideas of a honeymoon or any celebration. It does help save money. But aren’t weddings ought to be about the fervour and joy? Shouldn’t marriage be a happy bond between two individuals?

Today, as I see my father signing up on different matrimonial portals, paying an additional sum of money to spot that ‘one-lucky bloke’ my heart sinks. Not only does he shell out all his hard earned money to people who know precious little about marriages, but the world around questions their reasons for not ‘hunting actively’.

Last words

In the end, it is a part of life that knows no steadfast rules. Not that I am against the concept of marriage, but I believe in destiny. Like magic, marriage should surprise you and make you smile more. It is not for the faint-hearted or the stingy. Instead, it is about complementing one another despite the hardships; teamwork in the truest sense.