Engagement

This is the most arduous task in arranged marriages. The parents of the girl use any and all sources of information to find out a suitable match for their daughter. The parents of the boy also do likewise. Yet, in most regions it is the parents of the girl who approach the parents of the boy.

The first move, made by the girl’s parents, is to ask the boy’s parents for the horoscope (Janma-patra, or Janma-kundaH) of the boy. This they generally do even if they do not believe greatly in horoscopes, because this request also works as an overture to see if the boy’s parents are interested in starting a dialog.

If the horoscope is received, it shows preliminary interest on the part of the boy’s parents. Those who believe in the horoscope go to the astrologer priest to find out whether the horoscopes match. There is no State in India whose people do not believe in the horoscope. And yet, there are skeptics everywhere. Some of these skeptics are afraid to ignore the mismatch of horoscopes. Some are strong enough to ignore the horoscopes. The above analysis applies equally to Jain and Sikh sects of the greater Hindu family.

During the process of decision-making, the boy’s parents see the girl and talk to her. (In some cases the boy and girl get a chance to talk to each other.) If this meeting goes well the engagement is made and a date of the engagement ceremony is arrived at. Sometimes one party, or both, sends a silver ring to the other along with a few grains of unbroken rice (akshata).

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