Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Big Fat Mallu Wedding

The "Mallu" wedding industry is one of the most thriving, possibly soon will be the only one, business in Kerala. (Because they cannot have a hartal against marriages, not yet. In fact, marriages are exempted from the hartals and bandhs in Kerala, as though it is some great generous act they do while they ruin the rest of the state. )Along with the wedding-bull, I mean bell, the industry also supports another raging business – Gold. Tradition, and ego, requires that the bride needs to be covered and anchored to the ground with gold. Other allied sector businessmen like Biriyani caterers, Priests, brokers also benefit from this boom.

But behind all the glam and glitter lies a rotten story.

Here is how it all begins:

Most of the times, it all begins with an innocent smile. The day people in Kerala notice that you are a happy kid, there is an uprising and voices gather storm. How can anyone in Kerala be happy and contend?. There has to be something wrong. If not he or she is becoming irresponsible and lacks a direction in life.

Of course, only marriage can save the misguided youth. “Kalyanam kazhiyumbol sheri aakum”, “pennu kettumbol oru chitta varum”, “bharthavu aakumbol padicholum” are all common pre-nuptial thoughts.

Another more factual reason is the continuity of race, bloodline or the need to reproduce. This is the single biggest reason for marriages in Kerala, probably India too. All that people look for is man and woman to be legally able to reproduce and ensure off-springs that are able to continue “family names”.

Then comes the search. Massive hunts begin to find the “ideal” partner (ideal for others, not for eachother). Entrepreneuring brokers, Blood-thirsty relatives, Nosy neighbors; all have a feast. If the victim survives all these, the power of the media is utilized, not to forget to mention the online versions and do-it-yourself matrimonial sites. Check out a few actual press “classifieds” or “matrimonial ads”:

For ease, I have categorized into different sections based on their true meaning and intentions:

For Sale
Ancient, Aristocratic, financially well-off Jacobite family with assets in Kerala and UAE invites proposals for a 24 year old white colored, tall, slim girl, homely, family oriented and excellent character. Doctors, engineers or MBAs preferred.

Syrian Orthodox boy, 27, 5'9", wheatish, working as software engineer in MNC, salary USD 100,000 plus seeks alliance, preferably educated outside Kerala.

Muslim parents residing in USA, invite proposals for their ONLY daughter born and brought up here 27yrs, 5'2" with master's degree, employed in reputed firm from professionally qualified boys of any Christian denomination with western culture.

Christian CSI, 30, 158, BBA, employed, 2,00,000 pa seeks Christian, educated brides, Malayalee also acceptable.

Religious, wealthy, ancient RC parents, well employed in Gulf, invite suitable alliance for their daughter, 22, 161, fair and beautiful, MBBS, doing PG in medicine shortly, from parents of handsome PG doctors/senior civil services employed software engineers employed in USA/UK/Australia, below 30 yrs of wealthy Jacobite/Orthodox family.

Visa available:
Parents of Nair girl 27, 157, green card holder, working in USA seeks alliance from US employed boys or boys wanting to go to USA.

Marthomite parents USA on leave invite proposals for daughter, slim, beautiful M.Sc nutrition employed in USA, from parents of well qualified god fearing Christian boys with clean habits.

Aristocratic parents of Thiya boy, 26, 5'9", working as software engineer in MNC, good salary, seeks alliance only from Thiya parents for their daughters.

Keywords and Legend:

Ancient: This means the family could be a direct descendant of our forefathers, the Apes – perhaps, if not look-wise, at least they will display character and behavior that qualify the recognition.

Aristocratic: If you would like to associate with a family who has enough people to interfere with every bit of your life, then look for this word.

Financially-well-off/ Salary quotes/ Assets: These are tricky keywords. When it comes in a “wanted bride-grooms” classified, it usually implies, money is not an issue and we got lots of dowry as long as you are a District Collector or a psychiatrist who charges by the minute or something like that. If it comes on an “ad” by the parents of a guy, it usually means if you have the money, we don’t care who or what our son is marrying.

Homely/ Family Oriented: She has a uterus, and is willing to reproduce

Green card holder: You don’t have to go stand in the long queues at Chennai or Delhi at the US consulate at 5am.

Wheatish, White, Fair, Medium Complexion: These are highly subjective color based descriptions to entice you, just like Maruti people talk about their car colors. You wont know what red or blue until you see the car. But the fact is, there is a big preference of color in Kerala.

MNC: This could be your lucky break to get out of all those strikes, bandhs, gossips and such things that make a hell-hole out of Kerala.

ONLY child: when its an ONLY child, the sale value quadruples in the market.

God-fearing: I am still confused about this one and I wonder if it means God fears these people.

It is very rarely that a victim gets beyond this point. Usually the marriage occurs because “he is a doctor”, “they gave 2 crores”, “their family is famous” “her dad owns two hotels” “her studies are over, now its time to have a kid” “he has to fly abroad, so he has to marry and go” or one such insane reason.

I have seen 90% of the time these people miss what the guy and girl really wants. It never really is about either of those people, but about families, prestige, egos and social status. What good is a “famous family” if the guy and girl don’t get along well? In my opinion, majority of the marriages in Kerala end up in discontent and suppression. The couples are just forced to shut-up and live on because of the family and social pressures. But sooner or later, these frustrations give way in one form or another. In the end, its back to two people doing their own things in life, but are together only because of that “incident” called wedding. And most of the times, its only the guy that lives his life, whereas the girl suffers silently, confined to the house.

That is probably one reason why couples are “fast forwarded” into having kids. The days after you marry, aunts and uncles, or even strangers will want to know your bed-room secrets. “When are we seeing a baby”, “Don’t delay further”, “Othiri thamasikkathe oru ” are all the usual comments you get from them. And you think to yourself, “God, its just been 2 months!” or “who the hell is this guy?!!” And if it is over one year and you still haven’t had babies, then God save you. Either you will be subjected to the latest medical tests available till you conceive, or you will be branded as barren. Period.

Anyway, coming back to marriages, I don’t see why people have to bring in egos and hypocrisy into something like marriage. Aren’t marriages supposed to be made in heaven? Why can’t the guy and girl be given priority? I am not even saying Love marriages work better, but the whole system involved in weddings in Kerala is thoroughly confusing to say the least. Infact, I do think Love marriages (by this I mean, people should be allowed to find a match on their own; marriage is a personal choice in my opinion) are way better than the way marriages are arranged in Kerala. If at all love marriages fail, it is only because of the family, relatives and society manipulating the couples brains and creating rifts.

I recently heard an account from someone I know very closely, about how his daughter liked a guy who worked with her. And initially both their families were happy and fine. But mid-way as they discussed about the hows and whens of the wedding, the question of dowry came up. The guy’s folks accused the girl’s dad as being a cheapo, and he got infuriated and walked off the camp. I guess behind every marriage there is an incident or scene like this. I think the serials in Kerala depict the mental agony in most houses, and perhaps thats the reason why they are such a rage!

I have heard about insane traditions such as the guy "paying of" the girls mother with a token gift such as a sari and all. And people actually sit and spend hours on deciding these things, without even a clue as to whats going on in the guy or girls mind.

I also get bugged by the way, hundreds of strangers flock to weddings. People who you have never met before, strangers who don’t give a damn about the couple, people who come just to gossip or comment about the food. Isn’t marriage supposed to be more special than that? Why cant it be just the close relatives and friends who really mean well for the couple and family? Why does it have to be a social display?

We, or atleast our parents, were all born out of similar marriages I guess, and so in some senses the system works. But is it the only way it can work? Will it ever change?


Anonymous said...

funny, sad, true, horrible..all at the same time..

silverine said...

For Sale:
ancient RC parents
clean habits
Ancient: This means the family could be a direct descendant of our forefathers..qualify the recognition.
Homely/ Family Oriented: She has a uterus, and is willing to reproduce
I am still confused about this one and I wonder if it means God fears these people.


"I have seen 90% of the time these people miss what the guy and girl really wants"

What you say is so true!!! Marriage is never about the guy and the gal:( It is something beyond that, like family prestige, going through the social motions, progeny etc. The guy and the gal are mere pawns in the game. Which is a tragedy as two lives are in jeopardy, cursed to live in a loveless relationship for the rest of their lives.

But the system is changing and the reason is guys and girls working in close proximity in IT cos. In my own office, many girls and guys have met, gone steady and married. It is heartening to see the changes. However for the rest the show will roll on.

Lovely piece this..and much awaited :)

Mind Curry said...

@ anonymous - are right :)

@ silverine - :) thanks dear.

The guy and the gal are mere pawns in the game.
perfect description..depressing though!

and much awaited
this has been in draft mode for so long now..finally it began getting too long, so just posted it in the end! :)your post was an inspiration too!

quills said...

MC this was priceless. You just wrote the absolute and horrible truths about the majority of marriages made in Kerala.

And talking about it being an industry, you are so right. The other day I saw a huge sign outside a building in the city that read "Marriage Management Bureau." I am not exactly sure about the services they render, but maybe they are like a management consultantancy specifically for this market, aimed at resolving the umpteen issues that would invariably arise, as the marriage made in Dog's Own Country was really not a marriage between two compatible individuals, but between an "aristocratic" girl and a "ancient" boy and nothing else.

It really irks me when relatives start badgering the parents of a girl if she crosses 22-23 and is still unmarried, a happy time for the girl) and an anxious worry filled time for the relatives. I am sure the main concern and unhappiness of these "concerned" relations and neighbors is that they are losing a golden opportunity to partake in free booze fests and the opportunity to critize every other living and dead member of their known circles freely.

There are chadangu upon chadangu (which in itself is not bad) but it crosses the state of normal accepted behaviour, when people start looking at it as a contest to be won of sorts. For eg, to the North you can find, there is something called "saree kannal chadangu" where the new bride is supposed to display all contents of her suitcases to the neighbors and any passerby who has the time and inclination to step in for a few hours and view the specatacle. And mind you, the contents better be loads and loads of gold peppered with diamonds, and Kanchipuram sarees. The more the better. And once the neighbors are satisfied, then the girl is allowed to pack up and leave, so that the audience can then relax and over a cup of coffee exclaim, why it still is not comparable to what, Eliyamma's daughter-in-law brought with her.

It is a long comment...I may come back to comment be warned. :)

Jiby said...

MC...u have nailed the institution of marriage as it currently reigns firmly to the cross!!! young ppl need to read this and do some contemplation how they want their marriages held.

one word that makes me roll on the floor is aristocracy and xian families using it with inflated pride...i never knew of kerala having a single christian royal family to date in its long history!!!

kerala i wuz hoping wud be able to bring in radical change in this decadent business of marriage but the sight of larger wedding-halls, proliferating jewellery and sari shops and the success of matrimony websites in sustaining the old order has made me lose hope.

i know so many guys who are complacently waiting to park the moolah they will rake in with a marriage in some business or other, others waiting for their rightful luxury cars, flats, etc, etc.

great post!!! mallus...when will we wake up!!!

Mind Curry said...

@ quills - awesome comment and thoughts..thank you so much dear.

marriage management, consultancy..perhaps we will have our own versions of "wedding singers" soon.

the "saree kanal chadangu" is among the most disgusting chadangs i have really shows how trivial and superficial people are. pathetic is the only word.

why it still is not comparable to what, Eliyamma's daughter-in-law brought with her.
absolutely hilarrrious :) eliyammas d-i-l surely gets the cake!

Mind Curry said...

@ jiby - seriously brother..i cant imagine why anyone would want to get married like this..un-sahikable as they say.

the thing is, in kerala its not about developing individuals. its just about creating hype, false images and such superficial thing. i feel so dejected at these things.

aristoCRAZY, orthoDOGS..all really get my goat!!

rathri said...

The one word that probably describes the whole mallu wedding is sleaze. In fact, it’s worse in other parts of India. This will change only when girls become financially independent and have a word of their own. Given by the current social set up, it’s not an easy job for many, especially in villages, to come out of this trap. Probably after 50 years the whole arranged marriages will be seen as a kind of social evil prevalent at some point of time in the past, like 'child marriages'.

When do we learn that marriage is a part of a person's privacy?

Thanu said...

When I speak, I speak for mallu christians.

I think our weddings are very beautiful, I got married almost 2 years ago. It last a day, if you are a guest then 3 hrs max if u r fmaily may be 6 hrs.

Read more about the rituals at -

Each of the ritual has a meaning. It is up to the ride and groom to take interest an learn why theya re doing this.

If i could get married any way I would choose the mallu christian way.

Mind Curry said...

@ rathrincharan - welcome here..i think the way they arrange it is where they go wrong..and you are right..theres no concept of privacy or individualism in our land. marriage is personal, and not some social satisfaction event.

@ thanu - i knew this would be a sensitive issue for some, and i really dont want to get into a one on one about something so personal. i have told you what i feel, and i appreciate what your thoughts are.

but i dont think you speak for mallu christians. we can only speak for ourselves.

i think you have misunderstood the whole point of this post. its not to degrade any wedding ritual or anything.

every ritual may have a meaning, but what use is it if the couple dont gel, but are instead put through it like some automated process? couple will learn why if they feel involved, and feel for eachother.

i am glad you feel strongly about weddings and its one of the greatest joys i am sure. i just wish every marriage was like that. but there are 101 other people who are not happy, but just suffer through their married life because they didnt have a choice. like rathrinacharan said, they are unable to even voice their feelings because of social and family pressures, because they are not independent, or because they worry for their kids.

as for the church and its politics, its as bad as kerala politics. the less said, the better.

Sarah said...

God fearing:God fears these people.. MC that was classic!!

there is one more excuse not to delay having a baby... othiri kathu ninnal, kunju appante madiyil iruunu naracha thadi valichu kalikkum.. athu mosham alle??..

Thanu said...

I know there are church politics, and dowry and all that.

Even though family or society forces someone to get married I think he/she should take a stand and say no. And I don't mean say no on the day of the wedding when the whole world is invited. If you meet and don't like they should feel free to say no. No matter what the pressure from family or society. IT is not the family or society that is planning to spend rest of the lives with each other.

May be I’m an idealistic.

quills said...

@mindcurry: Thank you..this post just gave me a chance to vent. :)

You know with your wedding singer suggestion, I think we may have just found another lucrative business within the wedding industry. :)

And the chadangu I mentioned must have started of as a lovely occasion where the new bride displays her beautiful trousseau to her new family and friends, but then somewhere along the line, the scenario changed a bit, and some nosy neighbors, and irksome relations joined the mix. And then it became a race to do one up/better than the other and leaving in most cases the new bride a mute and worried witness to the scene unfolding.

Yeah...Eliyamma's dil did take the cake..:))

@thanu: Like MC pointed out, no one has ever got any problem with any wedding rituals, but marriages, first and foremost should be a big celebration of the love between the two individuals tying the knot more than anything else.

I know of someone who got married to a well educated guy who was brought up outside of India, with broad outlook and all that, only to have him bow out of the relationship a few years later, claiming it was family pressure that made him tie the knot. So what everyone thought was the most perfect union, what with both parties being aristocratic, ancient, apparently started off on the wrong note and ultimately that did show through.

silverine said...

Congrats doc for making it on Desipundit!!! :)

Myna said...

Its natural to have resistance towards change. With the political, financial, regional and religious setup we have, it is not easy, but possible, to survive in the society. Although marriage is the union of two souls, we can't deny the presence of a society, that includes our parents, relatives, neighbours etc, around us.

Can any one of us make that second step? Here is the clue. The first one, I did.

Raaga said...

"Tradition, and ego, requires that the bride needs to be covered and anchored to the ground with gold."

Totally agree with that. I've attended a few mallu weddings and have always wondered how these girls, who are usually all of 5 feet, manage to wear so much gold. I cringe when my mom asks me to wear one small necklace to a wedding!!

Shinu Mathew said...

Well, A good post.
But Are you impying that these customs and rituals should be done away? Or rather we conduct marriages in the US way? Like they start dating and after getting to know each other (In every sense, included sexually) and if NOT compatible part ways and find someone new? Or bring home your wife one day and tell your parents that this is your "marumol" / Marumon?
On any given day I prefer our old way. Look at the divorce rate at US. I am not saying our marriages are happier. But they are more secure and the beficiaries are our kids. They don't have to go under foster care, they have their parents together, though they are fighting each other.
Yes in some cases they are trapped in a love-less marriage, but which relation is not? Why singling out this? There are problems with Mother-Daughter, Father-son and you can get permutaions & combinations of these relations.
I agree that the girl & boy should get a chance to know and it shouldn't resemble a cattle-trade. But these elements, blood line, dowry, prestige, food-extravansa are deeply ingrained in Mallu psyche. And the Bride & groom themselves dream about this before their wedding. And if one decided to let go off all these Traditional stuff they are deemed incapable and his social stand take a beating.
So to conclude, I am not in favor of excessive expenditure on weddings, it's once-in-a-lifetime celbration and should be treated that way. But the most important things should be adaptation to the new relation. Since the boy & girl don't know each other well, adaptation plays a big role in success of marriage.
(The writer himself married through the old channel and still leads a healthy & happy married life without knowing each other before marriage)
Why did I include the last line. It may just provide more credential to my post :)

Shinu Mathew said...

And forgot to add something:
While criticism is healthy, ridiculing is not considered as healthy. Look Achumaman for example.

DD said...

Homely/ Family Oriented: She has a uterus, and is willing to reproduce

God-fearing: I am still confused about this one and I wonder if it means God fears these people.

ROTFL! Guess this is true for most Indian marriages as well...marriage is one real scary thing!

mathew said... have taken the bull by its hurn..hard topic and sarcasam at its best!!!!!!

But these are practices that the janata knows its perfectly unethical but which they still do follow bcoz they are norms that existed all the time..

are there any aristocratic family back home??..uh.........

Mind Curry said...

@ IiC - lol..that definitely is mosham..thank God pregnancy is 9 months, else the couples wouldnt even have got a month before questions popped up about their reproductive potential.

@ thanu - theres nothing wrong being an idealist. even i am at times, but we should remember we are able to be idealistic because we have the choice, independence and freedom to do so. a lot of people dont.

you are so right about standing up and saying no. but the system is fool proof, that ultimately you will be forced into it.

@ quills - thank you so much.i also know of so many couples who frown and live through their lives. i am not saying all relationships should be rosy and heaven, but being able to make your own choices will surely add more responsibility and commitment than rituals and norms.

lol about the wedding singer..interested?


@ silverine - :) saw the that good? your awesome comments and your presence here adds to the value mostly.

@ myna - yes, we have parents, relatives and neighbours. but i dont want my relatives acting as parents, or neighbours acting as relatives.

i didnt really figure out the second half of your comment.

@ raaga - lol..i can imagine..i also feel like throwing up when i see all that gold frenzy.

@ shinu - getting to know eachother is great thing. i dont think it always needs to imply sex. in india, guys and girls seen together is taboo. particularly in kerala, where peoples mentality is so nasty that they immediately make stories. i am saying guys and girls should be allowed to be normal with eachother, have coffee, be friends, hang out. whether it involves physical aspects is purely personal, and has more to do with a lot of things including your upbringing, culture, outlook. i guess, there can be a middle way. and then nobody will need to bring home a wife and say this is your "marumon or marumol", but will be free enough to tell his or her parents their personal likings and choices in life long before that.

Look at the divorce rate at US. I am not saying our marriages are happier.
there lies the crux of the issue. in kerala, divorce rates are comparatively lower because women are an oppressed lot. give them financial and social security, and you will see the divorce rate in kerala, or anywhere in india, beat USA.

anyway the point is, we shouldnt be happy just because divorce rates are lower than usa here. (btw, divorce rates are climbing steadily here). and children can be given more security and love, if there is more harmony between the couples. and that will happen when the couple are together because of their own choice.

when i spoke about the gold-frenzy, i didnt mean to say wedding expense should be curbed or anything. i just mentioned so as to show how people just want to show off without actually bothering about the couple. how one conducts is a personal choice.if someone has the money, let them have it in style. but just that the most important thing should be the couple, and not the show-off.

i am pleased to hear about your joyous married life shinu, and you are a good guy and deserve it.

when somethings ridiculous and you criticize it, you might sound ridiculous. and achumaman is an example of a ridiculous person.

@ dd - :) scares me too, at times..

@ mathew - yeah man, thats what i was asking..will it ever change? atleast with the new generation?

yeah, back home who is not aristocrazy? everyone is!

Anonymous said...

a very nice post...
its really sad to get into the details of the existing marriage system in the society...
u gave a good note of various instances in KERALA, i suppose the situation in same in all SOUTHERN STATES. the same is the situation in our state, ANDHRA. it even sux more....

Unknown said...

total Adipoli Saar!!

Shinu Mathew said...

What I was stressing about is the need for change in our public psyche. Overnight changes are recipe for disaster. look at how our metros are recording the highest date-raping. It's the sudden freedom to get together with the opposite sex and deep within they are still that old male chauvinist.
Your argument goes like, if you get a chance to go out with your girl, you learn more about her? To tell you something from my experience, when you are loving or trying to impress someone, only the good side shows! It's only after the marriage, the ugly side rears it's head and that's why most of the love marriages failed. On the other hand, arranged marriages (the term is only India-Specific) have a longer sustainabilty, because they spend the initial period of their life together, to understand each other. it is like the dating period of a new relation . Then they start living with what they have. No high expectations, no exaggeration. And to add to it, there is both the families to help even if there is something wrong.
It is purely my point of view, but I think even the free love societies like US or UK apreciate our system.
Changes are good, but it shouldn't be just for the sake of it. Our culture and customs are neither inferior to anyone's nor it is wrong.

Mind Curry said...

@ anonymous - true..probably holds good for north too..who knows.

@ bombayite - bumbai se aaya mera dost!

@ shinu - you are right overnight changes..the whole concept of this blog is only slow transition. nothing can change at the press of a button. its to get people thinking.

and my argument didnt go like how you have mentioned it to be. i was never talking about dating for marrying. i just mean guys and girls should just be allowed to be friends and be themselves. that very concept is seen as some dangerous, perverted, lose-your-virginity thing in kerala. thats what i say is wrong.

so if its date-rape in usa, its "grasping", "feeling", "groping", 'touching" in india. just that in kerala and india, the victims are forced to remain silent. and we already know kerala's track record on treating women.

mostarranged marriages sustain longer because one or both of the people that make the couple are forced to live through life silently. and love marriages fail mostly because of the familial and social bias against it. like you said, both families help when its arranged, but the flip-side is when its love marriage, both families are trying to split.

yes, we all have our own view-points, and as long as its something we have thought about and arrived at, its fine. its time we stopped following something only because its "tradition" or "custom".

Anonymous said...

in north malabar, hindus do not take nor give dowry.So please do not generalise your crude mercernary south kerala picture to The whole of kerala.

Mind Curry said...

@ divakar - last i heard, "north malabar" was still a part of kerala. if you havent noticed, the title of this blog says "a blog on kerala".

Anonymous said...

Guys,can we malayalees not call ourselves "mallus"..please...As we all know,it is a derogatory epithet coined by north indians for malayalees,similar to "madrasee".What vexes me is that an average malayalee is much happier to call himself a "mallu".Please stop it.Please RESPECT YOURSELVES.

Mind Curry said...

@ anonymous - i dont know how the term was coined, but definitely agree with you. "mallu" signifies the dark side of the keralite, and thats why i have used it in this post, and not on any other post.

silverine said...

"your awesome comments and your presence here adds to the value mostly"
Puhleese doc, people come here cos this is a blog with substance than mere hot air. Me or anybody else have nothing to do with it. Stop being modest now :) And you are number one now in the Indian Bloggers list...face it, you are good :)

"give them financial and social security, and you will see the divorce rate in kerala, or anywhere in india, beat USA"

This is the truth and the whole truth however much difficult it is to swallow!

"children can be given more security and love, ...when the couple are together because of their own choice"

Wow!! Well said!!!

Your replies to the comments is a awesome as this post.

Mind Curry said...

@ silverine - thanks so much silverine. number 1 pain going by some of the sweet am enjoying it anyway.

@ anonymous - hello mr.practical, i see you are one of the culture masters. or one of the persons who commented earlier, but didnt want to comment in your blog name again.

either way, yes i am depressed about some of the aspects of kerala. with comments like yours, its same as killing
but what i will do for now is try not to be like you.

Shinu Mathew said...

I chose to disagree with you on the last paragraph of your second comment-reply to me. Tradition & Custom.
Most of the youngsters are finding solace in rebellion just because they it's cool. Rebellion against the system, against the way their parents carry themselves, the way the society treats them, the list is endless. But once they grew, they become part of the system and may be a ferocious one at it. As for me, I left my beloved motherland for making a living, but still deep within, I am a true keralite, always savouring the sweet past that I had there. May be that's why I amke it a point to talk Malayalam at my home and bent on teaching my daughter to read & write malayalam. But most of my fellow keralites take great pride in saying "My children don't speak Malayalam". I despise them for their ignorance, their negligence. If you see any other people, be it Gujarati, Marathi or Kannadiga, they speak their mother toungue at home and as a result, their kids speak their own language fluently.
I wrote this much to make a point. We despise everything that is our heritage. I saw people at a Kerala function, they speak in Hindi/ Eng to their fellow malayalee. Why? Just to ascertain they are superior? it is a shame (for some of them) to talk in our language.
So labelling tradition as a burden is the answer to all our problems? Or, what is exactly wrong with tradition? it's not the tradition, but the misinterpretation of it is causing problems. I know you were also saying the same thing, but from some of the aye-saying comments I get a strange feeling that most of these commenters are totally against the tradition. Be it good or bad.
In a typical Kerala wedding, the biggest expense is Gold & the food If I remember correctly. As I see it, a bride's father (Family) works harder to marry off his / her daughter and it's a saving for their life. It makes them work harder. But for those who don't have the means for it, is strugling to make it like HIS Neighbour. So who is to blame? The tradition or the mindset?
Second the food, same apply here. If one rich family invites 500 guests, be it. If he serve Mutton Fried rice or 7 cource 5-star meal, it;s his choice. When a poor man tries to emulate him, who's to blame?
It's being in one's means and keeping the balance.

Babin said...

Great discussions here.. I guess things are moving into a debate on culture. I guess between the traditionalist and rebels there is a 'vadam vali' for the direction of culture.. This universal process shapes and evolves culture slowly and steadily for good. Hopefully, this political process will do the right thing for our culture too.

btw, Great post Mind. About malayalees gold rush, it is a fact now that international price for gold depends substantially on the marriage season in kerala.

Sarah said...

I know I am side tracking here,, but to Shinu's comment.. "It's being in one's means and keeping the balance".. I do need to ask a question.
"How many of you were willing to marry a malayalee aristrocratic,godfearing woman without dowry?..
If the father of the bride didn't slog in middle east/US or where ever and earn the money for the dowry/gold/car/etc.. she would sit at home.

It has nothing to do with living within your limit.. It has more to do with our culture, where we thank the good lord, when a boy is born...and start building the manakotta of the millions he would be bringing..

Anonymous said...

Excellent blog. But, I feel its too late to Save Kerala. Its in an advanced stage of Cancer. Not even its Gods can save it anymore. I got out of it as soon as I could. But will go back once in a while as a 'tourist'.

quills said...

This is turning out to be a very interesting discussion. :)

@shinu:I do not think we are against tradition or customs and I do not think anybody rebels against these age old ways because they think it is cool. A reason exists in most cases. As you progress and become more educated and observant, things that were thought of as the best ways to follow in the past, have changed and along with time and circumstances, and therefore some of these customs and traditions have to be replaced with more practical methods. I am talking specifically about marriages here.

I have heard from many people and stats are there to prove that the number of cases of divorce is rising daily in Kerala. Why is that? Probably because at a time when they could have probably taken a stance against the "traditonal way of arranged marriage" they were not able to for some reason, but afterward found that the compatability between themselves and their partner is way off mark than is desired for a happy marriage. Perhaps in the past, and even now, we may keep silent about these things to put up a big show for the society, but inside we writhe and exist in pain, almost like if these individuals' hands are tied.
I have heard people say that the woman's role and duty is to be accepting and compassionate and perhaps turn a blind eye to things, even at the cost of her own happiness. And I know of women who are in abusive relationships, but because of fear of society and the impact a thing like divorce would have on the woman and her children, she remains mute.

I am not saying arranged marriages never work out, they do and many people I know are happy witnesses to that. But, I feel in this day and age, getting to know a little more about your future partner makes you prepared for the long and committed journey ahead.

And regarding age old customs, the tendency to go one better than your neighbor not only exists, but people also get around to discuss and show off and make a mockery of the whole tradition by doing so, which I think is the problem.

Unknown said...

oyez freinds,
I'm trying to unite all crazy n cool mallus around the world....
As an initiative I've started da tribe Mallu group

Post message:

Would love to hear your views and inputs on the same..
cheers n rock on
p.s get all crazy ones aboard!!

Moi Blog : City of dreams & City of Sensex.

Mind Curry said...

@ shinu - i dont think most of us are against tradition or customs, so long as they make sense and does not have negative impacts.

i was talking specifically and clearly about some customs related to weddings in kerala, and not referring to language or heritage.

and it is about those meaningless customs which are still being held on in the name of tradition that i am talking against. apart from that we all love kerala, in different ways perhaps.

@ babin - finally! was wondering what happened to you :)

marriage season in kerala..funny by itself..

@ IiC - well said IiC..i just hope more and more women and men will have the independence and strength to say no and "sit at home" if need be, than suffer a life time. i hope more women will have the independence and security to walk out of painful relationships. thats the only way this hyped-up social event called wedding will make way for something thats more a union of two souls!

@ ajith - lol..thats so funny, and sad. well, soon, if our current tourism minister has his way, you would want to tour kerala only if you are interested in seeing "hartals", "strikes" and "shut downs". according to him, people want to see that more than backwaters and monsoons.

@ quills - absolutely. sometimes i feel in Kerala, people dont like to see another person happy. a smile or joy is perceived as something abnormal. they are immediately after your life with a gossip, scandal or some such thing. the whole concept of othungiya pennu itself revolves around these "traditional" mentalities.

@ bombayite - it will be a tribe alright! :)

Anonymous said...

yes, i totally agree with the othungiya pennu concept.

Anonymous said...

The society has a big role to play in holding a Mallu family together, unlike the west, where no one cares a damn about Society, when it comes to personal lives. Good or bad, the system works. It is because people respect the Society that they at least "try" to make the marriage work and not change husbands and wives like changing clothes.

Mind Curry said...

@ anonymous1 - yes. i am sure they prefer dolls.

@ anonymous2 - exactly. its the "society" that holds, pulls and rules the lives of everyone in kerala, including the couple. and that my friend, is the problem, not a matter to be happy about. individuality and privacy are mere concepts in kerala.

Anonymous said...


1. Its a dialogue between traditionalists and reformists && not between traditionalists and rebels.Guess, reformists gives a positive connotation.

2. As shinu said, malayalees do try not to speak in malayalam between themselves especially if they are living in North, as if malayalam is inferior to hindi. National integration is not renouncing our own mother tongue.

One person who impressed me in that regard is our FM, P.Chidambaram. He wears dhoti even in delhi and speaks english to north indians while saving his mothertongue tamil for his homestate.

Mind Curry said...

@ anonymous - 1. very subjective to classify. reformist or rebel just depends on whether the issue is something you like or not.

2. this post was never about malayalam or languages. that deserves a whole post altogether.

R R said...

lol thanks for the heads up. hilarious!!! am dating a mallu. hehe

R R said...

u know what .. i re-read this. what you say is also true for punjabi families too though although we don't have any UAE influence ... we have more Canada/America/UK and now Australia influence. heh Now I am inspired to give your piece a punjabi twist. ;p shall do and let you know!! :) cheers.

R R said...

btw, I have a question for our dear anonymous ....

How is speaking ENGLISH to north Indians better than speaking HINDI to them? Sure left me confused there, buddy. please clarify?

Shinu Mathew said...

At the risk of being labelled as "Pinthirippan", let me clarify one thing. I am not against any reforms and am well adaptive to all circumstances. What MC said is true in almost all the cases. But some of the statements are little debatable, at least for me.
I still don't get one thing. How long a period required one to understand one's future partner? I had the opportunity to play councilor to some couples a couple of months back. In one case, the Husband was telling me that even after 3 long years and two kids (last one is barely 4 months old) later, he still can't understand his wife. Quills seems to be missed out on one SPECIFIC point I raised. While on Dating / going out phase of a relation, it's all good things that you see / show. Unlike western culture where they are more free in a relation, our society / people are more marriage-centric. Every relation (Between a boy & Girl except good friendship) is aimed at marriage, at least from the perspective of the GIRL. And are we ready to accept the get to know / dating culture? See a list below.
1. Man chops off Girls hands after being rejected.
2. Acid thrown on girls face after being rejected.
3. Girl raped at birthday party.
4. 4 year old raped by 21 year old

So are we ready yet?
it's not an isolated incident as the ministers say. It is an emerging trend.
So this is what I said when we should stick to the tradition of getting married first and knowing each other after. At least that way, you save yourself a lot of trouble. Untill Our society is ready to accept the changed norms.

Clemenza said...

i completely agree with you. The whole marriage funda has become a business in kerala. Everyone is involved. Its sometimes so bad that,

for eg: in one of the gold showrooms, if one buyz gold worth a few lakhs, then one of the top film stars will visit the marriage.

the parents or the relatives dont give a damn abt their kids or anything.

Mind Curry said...

@ achu - yes, so true..we have this tendency of trashing or clamping down anything that goes against our views..and the worst example of this is creating gossip or scandals about people.

@ r r - welcome here..hope i didnt scare you with this post..dont worry. that all people are not same and that the trends are changing is evident from the comments here :)

yeah, its similar throughout india.

waiting for that punjabi twist..bhalle bhalle!


quills said...

@Shinu: One can never understand another person completely ever even if they tried.Even if you live with them for 100 years or more. There will be times when even your closest friend/companion will drive you crazy. :) And anyways who is perfect? But what you can do is, as you spend more time with them, you get to know them better, which in turn leads you to adjust or modify your behaviour accordingly without losing yourself or your values and dreams and the end result is compatability. I feel knowing a person even for a little while, is better than walking into a marriage in which the only thing you know is, boy is an enggr, or girl is a doctor, family is rich and aristocratic etc etc, and everyone looks good and happy in pictures atleast.

Why do you fear dating? Usually it is between two people who are in agreement and have made a conscious choice to spend some quality time with each other to get to know one other better. The instances u cited of acid throwing, date rape etc, are rare cases done by cowards, and usually not in a loving or mutually friendly relationship.

In any society, be it Western or Eastern, the ultimate goal of dating, particularly as you get older, is to find a partner for a long term loving and committed relationship/marriage. I think in India, coz of how it has been traditionally, the marriage factor plays more prominently. And what is wrong with that?

Everything has its pros and cons, but we cannot discard the idea of dating or spending quality time with someone of the opposite sex, as something totally western and hence not right for us. Atleast in the West, people have more choices, and instead of continuing perhaps in an abusive relationship, the system helps the victim to walk out and save themselves and their families.

Mind Curry said...

@ shinu - you know perhaps that guy couldnt understand her because he doesnt want to. thats what marriage does to you when you marry without wanting to. indifference sets in because you are "tied" to the whole thing.

the four instances of rape and acid, have nothing in particular to india, where date is "prohibhited", worse things happen right? people are just FORCED to suffer in silence. or they just PRETEND that everythings just great to satisfy the society.

Untill Our society is ready to accept the changed norms.
thats what i am trying to say shinu. its about time the damn society got some sense into it..and i always wonder who this society is..

@ simya - yeah, color bias is always there. but i think egghead was saying its fair as in justified.

@ techj - seriously man..sometimes i wonder what the whole point is..satisfy the insatiable society is the theme. but they dont understand, the society can never be satisfied. because they really dont care about your good.

Mind Curry said...

@ quills - so kerala, there is a communist-like trend..if anything is western, immediately flags come up..and if anythings bad, you brand it western. psychotic..

Visithra said...

Lol this was funny n true n sad

but its an indian thing i guess

we really have to put our feet down n make the change - n not bother about what ppl would thing - the suitcase viewing sadangu is horifying - so far ive only heard the viewing of things to be given pots bed ext

Shinu Mathew said...

Well, I am no Commie, And I am not anti-western.
What I was trying to tell you? That Dating is a strict no-no for us? Or, Western culture should be abolished or worse those who try to emulate it should be hanged?
No dears, That was never my intention but somehow you guys got that impression that I am against these. I agree, that for a civilized society (Again who is this society? About that later) there should be an opportunity to date. But the question is are we really ready? In one of Kuttan's blog I had a debate about the sex craziness about kerala youngsters. Is it sex starving or sex craziness? In the same vein, simply put, we are, as a society, still not mature enough to have these freedoms. We haven't grown enough to accommodate these changes.
When we can see the opposite sex not just as sex symbols, not as "Charakku", and not as just a machine to fulfill lust, we can date.
Till date I haven't see anyone who fulfill this criteria. Or may be I am in wrong company I don't know.
Second, Who is this society? LEt me ask you one thing? How many of you are willing to marry a poor girl from a low caste? Ask your hearts.
Cultural Differences, Mannerisms, Caste barriers all are deeply ingrained in our psyche. Deny it as much as you want. But the truth is, it is here and it's not subsiding. So this is what is society. the barriers, the restraints, the nosy neighbours, the relatives, the church/temple/mosque, this is society. For a crazy moment, you can just ignore all of them. But after that, you need that, as much as it needs you.

Mind Curry said...

@ visithra - yes, we really need to put our foot down. the change has to happen among us and then percolate to everyone. thanks for dropping by.

@ shinu - i think both of us are talking about different aspects, but perhaps meaning the same thing.

so why is there plenty of rapes and perverts in kerala? its much lesser in other states, or atleast the so called "western" societies.
you said its because we are not mature as a society. that is the whole point of my post. we have to change. you keep saying we have to wait for the society to change. but we need to change ourselves first. we cant wait to be the last one to change.

How many of you are willing to marry a poor girl from a low caste?
i dont think we can equate "change" to this. still if i fell in love with a "poor girl from a low caste". i would definitely want to marry her. and i know my parents would agree, perhaps with initial resistance. but do you think the "society" will spare my parents for that?

rational changes in our thinking and actions is good, irrespective of the social beliefs and customs.

Blogger Almighty said...

Fellow Mallus,

For a moment, I'm proud to say that I am a mallu (come on guys, be a sport - it's just like calling nandakumar Nandu - i love that name )- this thread is just amazing!

There's a lot we need to learn from the western societies. Even they have a lot to learn from us. The sad part is that It's only they who seem to learn.

They love our yoga, kathakali, kamasutra, aayurveda - and are learning it faster than us.

We are so perplexed by and jealous of their sexual freedom that we have decided that their marriages and relationships should be total failures.


Anonymous said...

Our weddings were not like this. We got it from somewhere.Choosing one's partner must be left to oneself.As MC said, the marriage is a business.In ancient days, marriage was used to increase power of the rulers (we have stories of only the rulers, so no info abt the prajas).Now marriage is used as business merger.
Everyone wants to be a king, atleast in the wedding day.Every dog has a day.I wonder why the men wear suits in the red hot climate, in the blistering sun!!! Are they not ashamed to be 'bought' by the riches of the girl's parents?
In the first night the poor man is forced to 'prove' his man-ship.First night is a disaster for the most.
Still, marriage is necessary. But it should be between those individuals, not between the families!!!

£ijo Isac said...

Hi , What you have written makes interesting reading . But "In my opinion, majority of the marriages in Kerala end up in discontent and suppression" is very subjective . The marriage match may not be the sole reason for it . Even the so called non arranged marriages have the same fate most of the times.

Anonymous said...

I am very curious, being non keralese, what is a mallu?

Shinu Mathew said...

You are projecting the poor "Man" as the victim of this marriage business and he end up "strugling to prove" his manhood. The understatement of the year follows 'First night are disasters'!!!
So if your might have been, don't generalise it with your experience. No one is forced to prove his manhood first night up front, and not always it's a disaster.
What are you suggesting, we exclude the 'family' element from the wedding? Come on, how can you be so frivolous??
For the Anon;
It's not keralese, it's Keralite and Mallu is short form of Malayalee (those who speak Malayalam, the language of Keralites).
I think Mallu is not a deregatory acronym. I am more offended when some north indian adress me as "Madrassi" and it's a welcome change that they are recognising there is a state called Kerala and it's not part of Madras. It's more like what Blogger _Almmighty pointed out. Nandu for Nandkumar, Chandu/Chandru for Chandrakant, Aji for Ajithkumar etc..

Shinu Mathew said...

I said we should wait to induce the Dating culture till our society is mature! It means, looking at girl / wome with a different mindset. That has to come from the very root. From home, from school etc. If you IMPOSE the freedom on this old mindset, it's disaster. This is what I have been saying from the beginning. Yes we must change, but how? Start dating? or writing blogs?
No buddy, it's a long process. First let them interact with opposite sex at a very low age, starting from 5 or so. Then there is the question of sexual education, which is still taboo in our society. Next make awareness about the pitfalls and good side of dating. Another important thing is to make aware the MEN Species about the rights of woman. The right to refuse. And so on... The list is endless.
I don't see our society being matured till the end of this century. That too an optimistic estimation :)

ശശി വര്മ്മ said...

Hi MC,
read the whole post. My views in this aspect is similar to MCs and Quills. I always wanted to marry a girl, irrespective of her relegious, family, economical and educational status but no mallu girl i met (and i liked) was ever positive to that idea. Moreover some peoples asked me whether my parents had an inter -cast/inter-relegious marriage? Otherwise they dont see any reason for an educated handsome guy to have such a weired idea about marraige.
Now a days youth "fall" in love each other only if they are sure that the other person has got all those "prerequisites" so that an alliance is possible between their families.
At present in kerala, the trend what i see is of adjusting with the society and swim along with the flow. Lot of NRI money is flowing, peoples are building larger and bigger houses day by day.. everyone is compared to their neghbour on an every day basis - whether it is marriage, money, childrens education, buying electronics, housewares and car and whatever. (our neighbours stopped talking to my parents when they bought a car- funny?). If you want to enjoy your life as you wish, kerala perhaps india is not the right place. But it wont be like that 50 years from now. You can bloody count on me for that! :sureshgopi:

ശശി വര്മ്മ said...

Just one requestg..
MC, is it possible for you to put this post in - its a mallu forum where some 7000+ active mallus as members. Please dont take me wrong as if i am advertising for some other sites here. I felt this post is so good that more mallus should read it and to debate on. If you dont like to go there, i could do it on your behalf with links given to DOC blog.

DD said...

Got this as a forward mail today :)
Anyways have sent back a mail to the snder and recipients with the blog link..angane fwd cheyyunnathu sheriyallallo!

Anonymous said...

@Shinu, thanks for reading my comment. I can say my opinion from the experience we hear from our friends, relatives and ourselves. Then only I can be sincere in my opinion.MC already pointed out the difficulties of women in this 'utsavam'. I need not repeat it. Now, it is not marriage, I repeat, its an ALLIANCE. It is ridiculous that the family decides EVERYTHING for a person, from his education, habits and marriage.

Ralminov റാല്‍മിനോവ് said...

Totally unrelated comment.
Forgive me for my sarcasm.
But Kerala can be rightly called as 'Dog's own country'.
There are lot of dogs in the state.
Stray dogs, house dogs, ... dogs etc.
All these dogs bark, but only the stray dogs bite, bcoz they are not taught about this phrase "barking dogs seldom bite".

Otherwise Kerala is Gods' own country. There are lots of Gods living together in unity. Variety Gods. Small Gods, big Gods, private Gods etc are there in Kerala.

In God's own country the man has no right to save a drowning man. It is the responsibility of the God. In other words, it is the fate of that man. We can watch it live!!!

As we live in God's own country we need not work!!! God (for secularist and others Govt) will provide the food, job etc. It is the responsibility of the God.

But we can even sell Gods, beliefs etc for votes. We can kill people in the name of God.

Catchy phrase for the Lazy malayali...
God's own country....

Statutory Information: I love my state. Kerala is very beautiful.All Keralites are friendly and educated

Anonymous said...

Shinu mathew: No one suggested mallu is a acronym, but surely is an epithet. Its usage is continually abetted by malayalees themselves.How ridiculous. Its true that malayalees as individuals would like a short name for themselves..(some in my college days were "vaalu" "chaaka" "theetam" etc etc).No self-respecting person would like to call him/herself such.In western societies, the individuals do not give/take such names. Its no coincidence that people in the west expect more respect in various dealings and conversations.If you would like to be called "mallu" then expect yourself to be not respected as you might wish.. But waht concerns me most is that when one person calls oneself "mallu" he is collectively giving everyone from kerala that name, that which I do not savor.


Anonymous said...

Shinu Mathew: BTW, I do not need any "RECOGNITION" from a north Indian. I wonder who they are to "RECOGNISE" us.....when you mentioned you are glad to be "RECOGNISED" by north Indians, that very precisely shows you to be considering them more equal than yourself. Since I consider myself to be equal (at the least)to them, I would not be happy with just recognition but would demand "RESPECT", my friend.

Thanks for your time.

Blogger Almighty said...

I request all to notice how the personal attacks have de-graded and deviated this thread - This is a behavior I find typical in us Keralites.
We are not wrongly called egocentric. I seriously think we take ourselves too seriously. What's the big deal about being respected and being so absolutely correct in your opinions?
If we stopped a moment from trying to emerge the omniscient "know all" superpower from all discussions, we would have come close to the truth of what exactly is wrong with us. Here, we are trying to discuss the Kerala weddings/marriages.
Coming back to marriages - I think we are cheating ourselves with this decieving s and forcefully imposed high morality even the most virtous people would find hard to follow.
Where else in the world are you expected to remain sex-free for years when your husband is away for years?
Where else in the world get married in their middle age, and are still expected to be virgins till they marry?
Which other society imparts such wierd notions about sexuality from the teenage ? I was told all sort of scary things about masturbation.. and was expected not to touch my fellow till i marry.
I am not saying that our society should encourage everyone to sleep around. But, it's time that we recognize sex is a necessity for each individuals.
In my (humble) opinion, the root cause for all the ugly things (including and not only marriage auctions) in our society is the number of enormous lies we have grown accustomed to.

Anonymous said...

Dear blogger Almighty
I beg your pardon if I had sounded typical to you.
After having re-read my comments, I feel that I have least commented in any personal manner. My comments were on an observation by Shinu Mathew and yourself. I would have much preferred a mini-discussion on the thread-within-a thread, rather than galling generalities. After all, its the respect-for-oneself AND for those around us that will help the future individual men/women to make a choice for themselves w.r.t marriage.At present, the women amongst us have not chosen to exercise that option. Again only a self-respecting man or woman can bring up their kids instilling self-respect, which in future is more likely to help than many things put-together.Dont you think??

And I find it particularly interesting among keralites that they disallow anybody other than them to play "almighty"....atleast among them..

Finally, I stand by all the statements I have made.

Thanks for the oppurtunity, almighty.


Anonymous said...

Blogger Almighty: What's the big deal about being respected...

Keralan: ???????????????????????

Try earning some respect from someone, Almighty. You will learn its value better than I may explain.

Mind Curry said...

@ everyone - hello guys! i think we are slowly deviating from the topic and getting into a mud-slinging mode. anyway, thank you all for the comments. this has been one overwhelming discussion here. and i think brijesh saved us with a new post!

@ DD - thats interesting! talk about plagiarism! and did they reply to your mail? thank you so much for standing up for me!

Shinu Mathew said...

Sorry MC, but I believe I must clarify something which our dear Anon got totally wrong.
Living almost half of my life outside kerala, and among people who don't know the difference between "Madrasi" & Keralite. So initially, all south Indians are called madrasi, to which I took strong objection every time someone called me that. But last couple of years, I hear Mallu frequently. So what do you prefer Anon? Being adressed as Madrasi or Mallu? I prefer the later even if it's a twisted "short name" for my language, Malayalam.
I said Recognising my state, not me. Geographically, these people doesn't know there is a state called Kerala, and all south indians are Madrasi. Now They started to Recognize Kerala, not me. Read comments carefully before launching into scathing critisism!
Another thing I have noticed is, whenever a Malayalee (Can I use that term? Is it an epithet?) came across someone who don't agree with them, they act as the know-it-all and pummel the other into submission! Is it what I am witnessing now. Learn to respect opposition and be respected!

Anonymous said...

so very true! nicely sad

Ganja Turtle said...

U left out the "convent educated part" which seems to accompany a whole lot of advts...anyway have tagged u...even prose will do...okai done?

Emmanuel said...

there r some marrige bureaus(plz check the spelling!!)which ask for some percentage of the dowry present context i think they will even keep a condititon that they should get some amount of money when the couple divorce, as it happens 'before' marriage.(the divorce rate in kerala is nearing the marriage rate.)

the "god-fearing" comment was nice:)
also the "ancient" RC parents.....

enjoyed reading this.....hope for more.......take care......

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading it. I guess the situation is similar in most parts of India with slight differences in the phrases used.

I am surprised to see why many still don't think dowry as something wrong and illegal. I was talking to a well educated guy (ex. BTech from IIT in Comp Science) going through the process and he couldn't conceive the idea about a marriage without dowry. I feel sorry for us and our education system. I know couple who met first on the wedding day.

Anyway, what people lack is an 'ellu' (bone, courage) and the ability to stand up and think. We blame our society, culture and family to happily join the crowd. I guess the question is not about how to get others on the right track, instead what do you do for yourself and for your friends and relatives.

Ellulla mallu.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad to learn that I'm not the only one who thinks she is looked at as nothing but a uterus. I belong to a rapidly dying community--the Parsis--and the head organization actually has this scheme whereby they give you incentives to have a third child by "sponsoring" him/her entirely right upto the age of 18. Talk about subtle. Go forth and breed, they say. Mere reproduction machine? Not me!!!

Anonymous said...


Your blog was very interesting. Believe me the pathetic "Arranged Marriage" scenario you described is not only existing in Kerala but in other parts of India too like Tamil Nadu (caste centric), Andhra (dowry centric) etc. The list goes on....

I agree with your point that the boy and the girl should be given much more freedom and choices to make. At the same time I don't agree with you saying that "love marriages" solve all the problems and results in strong bondage and married life.

I currently live in US and here believe me more than 50% of adults have gone through divorce atleast once in their lifetime. Its the other extreme here. I can see a trade-off between the two extreme systems and you choose which one is the best for you !


Anonymous said...

A good post but a bit biased. What you wrote is your view of what is happening and you are not speaking for the millions who are getting married the traditional way.

Remember, while you may be able to meet a gal/guy who share your view point and decide to bore each-other for the rest of your lives, such opportunities are not available to every young gal or guy in India. This is due to the fact that we live a more secured life with folks living with parents until they have kids.

In US, kids and parents both prefer to live away once they are mature and can earn for themselves. In such a situation, a young person has much more freedom and a parent has much less say on his/her young kid.

That said, I have friends who met their better-halves via introductions from parents. So not everyone meets at a bar or discotheque or spa or whatever.

Divorce rates would be high in India too if divorce was not considered a taboo.

Ask the kids who grew up in families where the parents had grown apart. They would agree that a divorce would have been better.

Having said all this, the best thing to do is find your soulmate if you have the chance. I recently got married to my gf of 6 years and she is not a Keralite but we had nice Mallu wedding. Guess her family just wanted to visit Kerala ;-)

Anonymous said...

yes now am also getting fear to marry.who will get the preference myself or surrounders dont know anyway am praying for those who married and going to marry might be full filling their wish.

Anonymous said...

i m 101% sopporting the description you have given but a slight change i stood up for myself (only after marriage)and going through divorce.but how can we change this situation .suggestion:let children become more independent in their living and find their own partners as europeans do

Anonymous said...

Hi to all,
I have been reading some of the posts on this web site and found them very interesting. In some ways all of it is true.
However, much of it depends on your parents. If they are willing to let you decide wether or not you want someone half the fight is over. I am a 23 year old girl and have already experienced some of the pressures of an arranged marriage. However, I not married yet. Still in the process of searching and so I can identify with some of the comments. Fortunately, my parents are very kind to me and always reminds me that unless I am completely sure that I want to be with someone I don't have to say 'yes'. But my relatives(who has nothing to do with any of this) are not so kind. They seemed to extremely concerened that I will be overaged if I do not get married soon. And since I already rejected three proposals after meeting them, they think that I am waiting for the 'perfect man' or something of the sort. I am a Christian an believe that whether it be a love marriage or arranged marriage ultimately I will be with the person God wants me to be with and that is fine with me. So far I'm almost positive that I have not met the man that God has chosen. The hardest part for me is denying the proposals when everyone else in my family likes the guy and I don't. God knows best and until He gives me positve sign I will not take another step. Until then I just have to somehow put up with all the talk behind my back. I think I already took up too much space. Thanks for having me.

Anonymous said...

If at all love marriages fail, it is only because of the family, relatives and society manipulating the couples brains and creating rifts

not very true I guess, talking in general not restricting to Kerala. Though I haven't seen many marriages I have certainly seen enough of love marriages failing for no proper understanding or higher expectations or for other reasons.

Anyway, its a great article.

Anonymous said...

This article had me cracking up.

I guess the main issue is we take ourselves so seriously(That includes you my friend for writing this article and me for commenting on it). I guess its just inbred into our psyche.

Anonymous said...

I just enjoyed reading every bit MC had written .Bursted out laughing..... WOW that was awesome .
It is true families dont even try to know wats in the bride and the grooms mind.

Arun said...

First of all, MC: hats off.
I think I'm a year late in reading this fascinating post and the plethora of good and some not-so-good comments :)
We talk about change and society and age-old deep rooted mindsets. I have had a hundred odd debates with my previous generations on these very meaningless and illogical ways of a kerala wedding and the way in which it is 'arranged'. All of these debates usually heat up to arguments and finally end with one of these statements- "Thats the way it has always been", "This has been working for so long, whats with you all of a sudden?", "Our culture is like that", "Are you going to change the world?"
To me, this indicates only one fact. The previous generations wont change. Its been hammered into their value system. They are not willing to accept the wrongs in it. For them any change, albeit good, is seen as a threat or a bad influence. We just need to accept that fact.
It is us who have to bring on the change. Us, the next generation. Put your foot down on dowry - no give or take. I know there will be pressures, but instead of all these big words like sweeping change and society being ready, if we can bring on one positive change in our own marriage, that will be the first step. We might be branded as rebels, we might make a few enemies in our families, but hell, good things dont come easy! :)
Instead of waiting for change, Be the change.

MC, rock on. We're listening.

Indu said...

Hmmm...Nice one Mind curry...i accidently bumped into this page while chekng out wot the"saree kaanal chadangu" meant in google...I am a journalist who walked out of her previous concern cos they tried to force me to do somethin i was not ready to do.But today,at home ironically one has to take up the sword cos "someone" in the society decides that i shud b married off lest i do not get "marred off"...test of wills eh?;)nice one anyway...

Unknown said...

Mind Curry : Awesome!!! you spoke for many.
Myna : As for the "Although marriage is the union of two souls, we can't deny the presence of a society, that includes our parents, relatives, neighbours etc, around us.", sounds like you supports mind curry's though but caught between the so called society, if you couldnt start with your about given your kid's a chance?..if parents back up...i think the rest dont have a choice.

Shinu : I wont be able to counter every point your make.Whenever someone points out the downside, why should we mallus point finger at US or UK way of leaving? Noone need to trash the culture we are born in, but if people want to do it differently,give them a choice, thats all.
Divankar : you missed the whole point, totally.
Ajith : I dont think it is too late for anything, and migrating is not the solution.
Anonymous : Have you seen "stepford wives"??Thats the movie for you!!
Ralminov: you sound like you read a lot of vaikom mohammed basheer, your dog decription awakens a line from his one novel (if i mention, their might be people who will taken offence in it)..hi hi..

To conclude it all...I am someone, who was dating a guy for 2 yrs, living with him for 6 months (like Mr.Mathew said, there is no way of knowing the bad side, unless you start living..and I did come across the bad sides...but love beats it all)...and now happily married for 3 years...and planning kids this year...and recipe for blissful marriage?
1.Marry someone you can have a conversation with (abt anything under the sky)- see it as a long term friendship.
2.Keep your problems and important decisions (like babies) between yourself, dont get friend,neighbours,family etc..involved (only u know all aspects of your problem and noone else can find a better solution that yourself)
3.Dont let your family talk ill about your spouse (boy or girl), be ruthless in defending your partner( even if some accusation - might be true to some extend)

for the grand some great soul put it..
"It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages."

and when we say gal and boy shud be given a chance.lets not talk in terms of sex...that is always secondary....when you are 70 yrs ..and still with the same partner, its not always sex that matters..but a good friendship...

Anonymous said...

I am a bit too late for this but still want to comment for those reading on .... well marriages has its tradition and trends.. and like previously commented we should mainly blame it on the society , those who created these tradition. i believe if your living in kerala be a mallu. why do you not want to be one? are you ashamed? say.... i had an arranged marriage. we met once before our wedding and our families were open enough to let us have phone conversations for the month in between , during which we got to know each other. one thing about this kind of relation is - you know that your getting married to this person and so getting to know him just makes you prepared for the best and the worst. which ever kind of wedding you have - arranged or love- you have to adjust. whether you know him for a few min or few years. more or less it might just be that we are the tough ones.
love marriages end more in divorce or western countries have more divorce rates because they have the freedom to choose. if once you think divorce is the easy way out of a marriage chances are you will do it again. when will you learn that you have to adjust? whereas though its pressuirzed in kerala they all adjust and we feel pity for them.
suppose you were wroking at a MNC firm earning really well , will you just walk out , when you cant stand the heat? you will adjust because you need the job. whereas not so if it was a minimal job right.
i know that most wont agree with me. but just my comment.....

Anonymous said...

well the whole concept is whether your family is broad minded or not.. if they are then they will let you make the decision. maybe a few months in between before the wedding to let you know your would be partner better
for my wedding. we had a month gap during which we got close. but inbetween there was a problem of dowry. though not officially anyone asked. the grooms family expected the brides to suggest the amount. bride though rich enough told her parents not to give any thing. so nothing was said. grooms family decided to break it off. but fortunately the groom said he wanted the girl and not the money and will be marrying no matter what.
so you see not whole kerala lies in the same category. there are many familes changin tradition not because they want change but because they are being resonable and closer as a family.
during times of our grandfathers... parents were 100 times more strict with their kids.. military its changing... and so many other things. so before we taboo anything.. just wait.. everything took millions of years for evolution ti take place ;-)
by the way about what is taking place now.. comments were right... somethimes we ourselves dont know what we are doing... just follwing the crowd..

Anonymous said...

The days after you marry, aunts and uncles, or even strangers will want to know your bed-room secrets. “When are we seeing a baby”, “Don’t delay further”, “Othiri thamasikkathe oru ” are all the usual comments you get from them.

haha..very true in every sense! Its a bit painful for couples who do not want to consider marriage as just a child bearing activity! I'm married for a year and going through pretty much the same. At times even the closest family discussions turn into this topic and I almost fall into suffocation without a place to hide. More than guys, its girls who have to hear such comments in the nook and corners of kitchen during family functions. unbearable..

Anonymous said...

Great article. I think the younger generation is well aware of the situation. It would be nice if you send a letter to the editor of a malayalam journal in Kerala.THEN IT WOULD MAKE A BIGGER DIFFERENCE.

Anonymous said...

get a life, and respect the culture :)

Anonymous said...

why dont propose something new, what happend in US early 1600, 1700. that is the culture, why do malayalees wear mundu or kaili. It is easy to critize, look at filming critics what if they make a movie. Again respect the culutre, if you dont like it dont follow it.

Bobby said...

There has always been a terrible itch to react to things that I see in kerala.But, is it worth spending time on analysis?

1.People dont need helmets!
2. Elephants always offer photographers and TV channels with those 'close to death' shots for their cover pages and 'Flash News' and the 'malayalees' relish these moments like one of their favorite 'jagathy' scenes.
3. Politicians are gods, gods are in politics and we have one man fighting againt everything- Suresh Gopi!!
4.Just walk into one of those well lit jewelleries and watch the pepole who are there, you cannot miss seeing that poor man spending all his savings for buying gold ( misery). That makes his daughters life secure- the more the better ( somebody told him that!)

No no...i dint write this becoz i want things to change...chumma, for the jolly effect!

praxno5 said...

by the way -all is true.

Does anybody knows what is tharvad.

Does anybody knows what is tharavad.

Tharavad is not money but a real kerala indian culture.

less money more culture.

today only show off till death.

what life we all lived

too much bla bla bla is baaaaaaa


Smrithi said...

Haahahahahah.. Hilarious!!
A bit of sarcasm and yea.. a lot of bitter truths.. nice post!!

But I dont think love marriages fail just coz of family interference. Sometimes, in a relation, be it arranged or love or whatever, the passion just dies and then ppl start falling out of love.. Life is no longer interesting ....

I think majority of the marriages nowadays fail either coz the passion goes off.. or else coz of basic compatibility issues.. or difference in ideas and thoughts..and in some cases people just find better partners(or so they think)
Nowadays divorces are so damn common coz people dont think its worth living with partners whom they do not have a rapport or passion..

Yea.. in the olden days.. yes.. they did confine themselves, adjust to the maximum..(which did help in many cases) and sometimes even live with their fate...

But this generation hardly believes in that kind of an adjustment.....

Just voicing my thoughts..
Anyways... The post is great!

Anonymous said...

This post is : 10% truth and 90% Exaggeration

sunkist said...

i can't stop laughing :D

claytonia vices said...

Phew! Scrolling down to the bottom of the comments column is a lot of effort!!

Hey, how could you say this is only in one state? This is more or less the case in most states.

Slowly but surely, things are changing for the better and I do see people considering the things they should, before getting married...

Anonymous said...

Nice post.

Unfortunately, its all about the money. I think this is especially true among Christians. The more crores (yeah lakhs are out and crores are in) you bring in (I mean the girl), the more 'eligible' you are. So compatibility between the boy and girl becomes a non-issue. Money is power and people like power. And people love to brag about their achievements..getting a super rich husband or wife, is ofcourse one such achievement. Something that will also receive a lot of applause and envy from society. So what if things don't look right, what if you leave love and all such feelings will make everything right. Money brings happniness, and even if you go through an unhappy union (well some are lucky to get a happy one), you will never walk out of it, b'coz of the crores at stake. Atleast that's what I think looking at some of the "matrimonial deals" happening in our little state.

Some things will never change..we can just continue to write about it and feel good. Only a handful of people will actually walk the talk. Pity!!!

Suvi Nadakuzhackal said...

You got it right on target. I spoke to many of my mallu girl friends while I was in USA and they all pretty much say that they don't wanna marry a mallu guy. Especially from India. The reason they gave me is what they saw in their parents life. They mentioned it very specifically. It is the other way for guys. They prefer a girl from Kerala since its almost like buying a slave for them.

Anonymous said...

lakhs becomes crores now???I was in the lakhs group, looks like i got my man cheap!!

phoenikhs said...

Was recommended on to your blog by a friend. Well-researched, yet lacks the 'wow' factor. If education was the sole purpose, the piece is good. But got a little longer to go before it becomes fine reading material.

MC said...

@ phoenikhs - wow!

saranghills said...

Well said my dear friend!
We -My friend and me- are trying to have a very simple wedding as a response to the Gold, Silk and all other wedding craze happen in this part of the world. We want to do something about this show off culture with our very wedding.

Meenal said...

Hi Mind Curry,

I coudln't couldn't couldn't agree more...and Quills u put it wondefully. It sounds horrible in Kerala but it is equally bad in the North, specially the cowbelt where I come from. A bride is upposed to bring things to the in laws household lifelong, the father of the bride has to be servile, the parents of the boy have a raincheck for life in that they ahve produced a son--be it of whatever variety, but of course, the son is the best!, and although there is a sort of superficial liberalism that is bringing about an apparent change, the reality still sucks! I can go on and on over thif forever so i guess i will cut myself short here....hopefully 50 years down the line, things would have changed, even if at the moment they still seem to resonate what existed 50 years ago!

Unknown said...


Your article is so mind blowing.

Let me tell you that 99% of it is true, except when it comes to the 1% of fat/non fat selection. You missed out on one thing..iam not sure if you understand.

my sis..She is not aishwarya rai or sushmita....but she has lived all her life outside india..she post graduated in International business and holds a great position in a bank in the UAE. I agree she is fat...but not obese, no way. We are three, and I was the smallest in size, but the eldest. My bro and sis they were always on the fatter side. But somehow. This is one thing u need to mention in your blog. Yes, physical attraction is very very important, but the big fat mallu ...whomever she saw as ''pennukanal'' were all damn fat and tall....want aishwarya rais. Now that is a personal decision. But let me tell all those obese men who want aishwarya rais....i was so slim so slim, that i married had kids, and now...iam just one of them....those fat pple ..big fat mallu..but after a marriage a girl does not need to necessarily become fat..she coudl really slim up....

Physical shape always varies from person to person, not necessarily that u are fat, and thats it...i am fat fat..i dont think u wud look at me twice. all the mallu guys who are ugly and god forsaken.....look more deeply....see more and find out..who suits u..dont go for looks..i dont think that works...apart from whatever u mentioned in ur blog...goodluck..

Prasanna Raghavan said...

hai MC,

It is after a long time that I visit your blog.

And there I found a great one.

I congratulate you for baring out such a thorny issue. You look like a moral soldier in the agony field of marriage.

However, I am disappointed in your answer to shinu Mathew.

"At the same time

dont think we can equate "change" to this. still if i fell in love with a "poor girl from a low caste". i would definitely want to marry her. and i know my parents would agree, perhaps with initial resistance. but do you think the "society" will spare my parents for that?"

So are you being downgraded to the level of a paper soldier. So is your call for change for the sake of others and not for the sake of you:)

Everybody is like that MC. Ofcourse when you call for change, you should look for all avenues of change and marriage is one of them.

The main reason why marriages thrive in Kerala as it is practised at the moment is because we are scared of changes: the we against them syndrome. We have no socaial skills to accommodate the other.

otherwise what values are we talking about. If we accept the human values, are we Keralites not a part of that.

Yes traditions and celebrations are all good. It adds colour to the joyous mood of marriage. But what joy is there when we fight as adult in the name of a tradition.
Then it beomes flimsy and meanignless.

Parents want to stay in their comfort zone, and ask their children to do things this way and that way so that they are not exposed.

And that is why you are also saying politely that others won't spare them. You are helping them to stay in their comfort zone.

And normaly people say in the language of their cheap sentiments that in the name of their respect, love and obligation to their parents they do all such things.

All the characters you have caricatured in your post are also saying the same thing. They do it for the parents, So who is trying to change who here?


Anonymous said...

I loved the blog..i wanted to comment on one of the posts to this blog about marriage just being seen as a way to produce children (legally). Its amazing how nosy our ppl can get, and yes, it starts a day after the wedding. God forbid that by 9 months into the marriage, you haven't produced a child yet, then thoughts start turning to "whats wrong with that girl..maybe she has health problems" bcuz ofcourse if there isn't a child by then, its always the woman's fault, right?
Its frustrating when older ppl dont realize that these days, its not just about having the kids, that it is a merger of two hearts and souls..but I feel like trying to convince the older gen. is an uphill battle and a waste of breath!
I find myself almost afraid to go back to kerala where any random person (who has absolutely no business) can come up to your face and demand to know why you are not a mother yet! Its so deeply ingrained in our culture that even the little ones feel the need to ask you about future children! It is frustrating and I just feel like a damn vessel for procreating whenever this question comes up!

Anonymous said...

AHAHHHAHHAHAHHAHAAAAAHHAHAHHAHHA.......Sorry I can't stop laughing, to some extent this is so true.

Alex said...


I am so glad my fiancee and I didn't have to go through those crazy ads and dowry talks..

Your article is just amazing!

Anonymous said...

I am going to marry now... Seeing all these.. But parents keep on saying We know whats good for you.. WHo knows whats good for Me when even I am not sure about myself or partner who i will be married to...

Hello said...

it's great, keep it up

Anonymous said...

Kudos to you for this wonderful post. I found myself nodding my head in agreement while reading.It both made me laugh out loud and also feel sad. Nobody thinks of the girl and boy, you are so right. It is about everything else other than the two people who have to spend their life together. That is why I am so against marriages. Period.

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Anonymous said...

congrats to you for the wonderful comment on marriages in kerala .What ou said is absolutely right even in my case too.i am experiencing the same thing rght now.

Anonymous said...

thanks a lot for the initiative. but while condemning the disguised traditional and cultural act of parents we, youngsters should take up the responsibilty for some factors. once, i was invited foor shopping by my friend as her marriage was fixed . when i went there i saw a bunch of jwellery to be exchanged. when i enquired, her parents said, "she says that these are out of fashion and she doesnt want to wear it for her marriage". can we just blame our parents? or the pressure put by the so called society for all the hungamas?. marriage time is like party time for youngsters and that is the reason why we seldom hear a girl saying " i will wear a little so that i would be comfortable" or " no, i dont like gold". ask the fellow who is going to tie the knot. he would convince the girl to buy saree of his like( i intend colour), while partying people dont realise that after partying they have to get back home, do their daily chores and and it is " back to responsibility". ultimately, we stress up that one fine morning the sweet girl packs up and leaves home.

Unknown said...

I cant even laugh as I am a first hand victim of this tradition. I would rather say, i choose to be a victim. I guess the Boy/girl who is getting married choose to have their life decided by their parents... they could have said no to all this and i would assume most parents would have stopped.. but then the boy/girl them self are confused on their choices... they just let their parents choose for them and when things go bad we blame our parents and tradition..

But then how is a boy/girl in kerela supposed to know what kind of a partner he wants.. We are not supposed to date or meet eachother before marriage right and we are supposed to identify our soul mate in 15 minutes .. God ... we must be gifted with supernatural powers for that...

So the only conclusion is get married, find out what you want from a partner ... if you are lucky you get to have a good life if not get divorced and do it all over again and this time do it RIGHT...

Anonymous said...

I agree that the system sucks but thats the way it is because how much ever educated prospective "groom" or bride is they allow this to happen this to them. Guys! have the backbone to stand on ur opinions and let not others take u for a ride.....
but then what about the "big fat easy money". No one else is to be blamed if you dont have guts to make an opinion and stand by it. ".. 90% times they miss what the guy or girl wants".. ha.. ha... does any of these girls and guys want anything other than money????

jobin said...


Calvin H said...

Well Said

DarkKnight said...

well said..

dare2say said...

=40% of agricultural loans are utilizing for Marriage purpose. 50% bank loans, 60% money back insurance as well.

=Middle class people spend 50% of their wealth for marriages.

=30-40% boys plan their future upon dowry!

=75% of parents' believe that their daughters are not safe in the spouse's home unless they 'pay' huge money.

=40% of girls do job to support their parents' for own marriage.

=30-35% criminal cases directly or indirectly related with marriage/dowry.

=60% of unmarried expatriates believe that it would bring 'high profile' proposals.

=75% of total marriage expense spend for luxury,food & beverages.

=If an average of 100 marriages in a day, attending 400 people. total loss of man power is 40,000. Their luxurious lunch enough to serve 2,50,000 bellies.

= 20% parents are depression patients think of their daughter's marriage.

these are aprox figures based on personal experiences.

I believe that Dowry is the only evil in this society, rest are associated to this only. Govt. should start charging high taxes, from those who spend luxurious amount for marriage.

Anonymous said...

i think it is a great article. the author forgot to mention that, if a girl or a guy doesnt want to , then everyone from relatives to people u havent ever met start to brand him or her as gay/lesbian.....

sadly the most educated people in india are totally cultureless, education hasnt brought about any change to peoples thinking...well again i think making ones childrens a doctor or an engineer is more to uphold the status of ones family than anything else.....

only god can save this place from complete decay

Robin Acharya said...

Majority in our state get married only for the social sake of being married.As you said the "qualification" they seek are almost the same as that of a job advt.I have seen matrimonial ads-Girl working in MNC requires boy with IIT or IIM qualification,settled abroad.So the concern is his Btech from IIT(Is she running an organization).
Another issue is those who are working abroad leave the entire matter of finding a bride/groom to their parents or relatives.Again the search criteria is "God Fearing,Nurse/Software professional settled abroad, financially sound".Parents find a girl/boy and inform their son/daughter.He/she just land down get married and leave or take the spouse along with.
Y can this guys find out whether the girl/boys would be a match for him/her.Spent some time and find out whether u get along well,there is an emotional match and 100 different aspects.

Anonymous said...

MC...that was the funniest way to bring out the horrible truth! U shud be hired to break bad news to ppl! Amazin work, very true and HILARIOUS!!! Loved the part: "She has a uterus, and is willing to reproduce"..classic!

About to get married said...

Glad that i came across the post. I am facing "similar situation" and was clueless what to do next! The nosy neighbors and the blood thirsty relatives are waiting for their chance! I hope you wont mind if i make a pdf of the blog and display it on a projector, or make small notices and distribute to all nosy neighbors as a desperate attempt to knock some sense into their heads! If you have any better idea, let me know. My day will come soon and i am not going to put up with these nonsense and be one among the crowd. Thanks a lot for the post.

Anonymous said...

nice write up. something all malayalee boys/gals and their parents need to think about.

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