C o n c l u s i o n
The 18 October 2004 issue of the popular news magazine India Today was
devoted to arranged marriage. Three years earlier the same magazine had
run a cover story on marriages called “The Great Indian Wedding.” De-
spite the three-year gap, both stories were triumphant about this peculiarly
“Indian” institution. Aroon Purie’s editorial remarks in the 2004 issue are
sufficient to give the reader the gist of what followed. Beginning with the
observation that arranged marriage had not only survived but thrived in
India, Purie noted that in recent years the institution had become more effi-
cient thanks to a new breed of marriage professionals, including counselors,
therapists, wedding planners, website managers, and wedding fashion de-
signers. The “marriage bazaar,” estimated to have generated Rs. 50 billion in
December 2001, had inflated further. “The rearranged marriage,” Purie ar-
gued, brought in its wake “rearranged roles.” Marriageable candidates were
being asked to provide their medical history; working women, once consid-
ered less than eligible, were feted as “additional income earners”; and second
marriages had become an attractive option. Overall, he concluded that these
trends showed that there “is greater democracy in the family, reflecting a
more flexible society.”1
Purie’s observations highlighted two things. One was India’s so-called
cultural difference. Despite the pressures of globalization, Purie seems to
argue, there is something that constitutes the core of an Indian identity,
and “arranged marriage” is the phrase that captures all the elements that
make up that core.2 His second claim seems to be that this cultural differ-
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