Friday, March 31, 2006

Marriage Strangenesses - Part 1

I opened BBC and saw this news heading.

Pakistan cleric radio station hit.

Wow, I thought. A cleric radio station that is actually a hit with the locals! What does it play? Not music, surely? Maybe cultural or religious issues with a dose of modernity? Eagerly, I clicked on the news link. And the truth shall set you free.

Let's move on to Pakistan's neighbour. Another BBC news article caught my eye. This is about dowry fraud. Foreign Indians return to the mother country to marry a girl, get the dowry and disappear, leaving a girl and her family scarred financially, socially and economically. I don't know if Bangladeshis face this problem - a few months ago the CBC (Canada's BBC) did an equivalent documentary, called Runaway Grooms, on Canadian Indians engaged in this vile act.

For me, the first thing when I saw Runaway Grooms page was this picture.

Runaway Groom

This is the picture from the CBC link. Note that the groom is missing in this ceremony. The girl is getting married to a photograph!

Now before you think this is a Hindu India problem or a rural problem, I have encountered a few such weird wedding practices amongst the educated elite in Bangladesh as well (thankfully no frauds).

    - Phone wedding (guy in Canada says I do, girl in Bangladesh says I do).
    - 'Proxy' Wedding. Guy is here. So he nominates friend or brother who is in Deshland to stand on his behalf. 'You may kiss the bride' not yet part of marriage ceremony there.
    - Text Wedding (now this is verging close to Maniac Muslim's online nikkah, but essentially the guy texts his "I do"s to the girl's cell who stores it in her inbox as 'proof'. Apparently, have not heard of this site.
    - Surprise! Wedding - Guy comes to get engaged, elders decide to get them married.
    - All Inclusive Tour Package For Ladies - Go for vacation back home, see the sights. Hotels, mealplans and one husband included. Usually accompanied by tragic phonecall to non-existent Canadian embassy.

So far, I have not heard of anyone who has gone to bed single yet woken up married (I heard rumours of a reverse case).

All this makes me wonder - WTF?! No, seriously, WHAT THE F***?!!! Has the so-called clerics in these small town villages or back home lost their minds? And what excuse does the immigrant, foreign residing desi have for submitting to this ancient practices? And that's the last part that bugs me.

If someone my parents decided to get me hitched called me up and said, "Ei, listen! I was thinking of saying our Bismillah Kabuls by phone, next Sunday there's a 2-for-1 deal, book an STD line and get an Imam free, how's that for you?" I would probably change my number and get an unlisted line. Not to mention telling my parents not to contact Rishtaa Aunty for any more rishtaas.

I have a bad habit. When I get interested in something, I research that topic thoroughly. I exhaust literature on that topic. A few months ago I got interested in Muslim marriage rules, though for reasons mentioned here. All of which has led me to compile a list of dos and don'ts every Muslim must demand in their prenup, or nikah-naama. Islam is good and beautiful, unfortunately some uneducated Muslims can be SOBs.

Since this post has already grown big, I will make that list part 2, iA.



Aisha said...

Great post. Funny thing is my khala is doing this. Phone marriage thing and she called me to invite me to the shaddi. Umm... the dulhan is in Pakistan? I dont get it! Why would I go, so I can listen in on the conference call? Very odd.

The runaway groom thing is VERY sad. It happened to a relative of mine. He let her support him until he passed his med exams and got his greencard then one day he went to the store and he never returned. A year later a detective located him in Pakistan with a wife and two kids he had previously. Very heartbraeking.

Aisha said...

oh, and LMAO at the title of the radio station ad, lol. I mean very sad story butthe title is very misleading, lo

Kamrul said...

Mezba.. you have the talent of dotting random thoughts into interesting & convincing narrative. The Surprise! Wedding rings a bell. Very well written !

mezba said...

Hi Aisha,

I was googling telephone wedding, one website has an explanation that you need a degree in simultaneous equations to understand.

In my opinion it should not be allowed as the two witnesses need to be present and see the two people actually accepting each others' "I do"s. The other person on the phone could be another woman with similar voice - who knows. Best is to go and marry. Most people do the phone wedding because they don't want to travel to desiland twice - once to marry, come back and second to go again to accompany the spouse back.

You marry once (ideally) - make it a proper ceremony (my opinion). Why have a phone wedding? And to tell you the truth, a person I know did this and spent the next three years convincing Immigration Canada it was not a scam and real wedding - and had to go numerous times in between to home to visit wife. Finally she's here. If only he had done the whole thing properly to start with!

Kamrul said...

You might want to post something about Divorce Strangeness. This guy sleep-talks "Talaak" three times in his sleep.

Some of the Islamic scholars are asking him to separate from his wife. The husband and the wife are adamant to stick together. What in the world is happening around us?

Saxena said...

I saw most Desi people long for a Desi wife or Desi DIL are happen to be the one who exploit them later. Sometimes it’s Groom to be Father and Mother who saw some girl in Desiland and find it perfect for their son. I cannot understand arranged marriages, how can one is so naive to let others to make the most important decision of their life. If one thinks that they cannot able to choose spouse for themselves then it might be that they are not mature enough to marry in the first place.

Mezba, you are right -- You marry once (ideally) - make it a proper ceremony (my opinion).

Aisha is your Khala doing it for her offspring? What is the role of the bride/groom to be?

NAB said...

Okay. hold up! wait just one darned second...!

you have a RISHTAA AUNTY???! why don't I have one of those??! why was I not told of these people?! I didn't even know such species existed! I want a rishtaa aunty now!!!! UGH.

okay, and now y'all can go about commenting on the vagaries of desi/muslim/socially incorrect marriages.

Anonymous said...

man, these rishta aunties are those type of people who smell the budding age of a young boy/girl. As soon as a boy hits 24 (coz by then its assumed he will be done with his education and will have started some kind of job), these aunties start pampering the mother of the boy. Its astounding to see their nature..they can smell sharper than your average police hound. :)
Same thing happens with girls. When a girl reaches 21 or 22, that's basically when harassment starts. I call it PHYSEMOTIOMENTAL HARASSMENT (emotional+physical+mental harassment all in one).

On an other note, the chat log for online nikkah was hilarous (especially the part when imam asks a/s/l and later apologizes for writing it in the wrong info..TECHNO-IMAAM) :)

Keep up the fabulous writing mez
its all PRICELESS! ;)

Anonymous said...

oops..last comment by:

- Behbood

mezba said...

Nowal, maybe I should have said hypothetical Rishtaa Aunty. No, but Toronto has some aunties everyone knows as 'ghotoks'. They do a lot of good work and one of them (incidentally my friends mother) actually of a very modern outlook.

mezba said...

Saxena, thanx for the comments. I think today most modern families here practice arranged marriage differently from older times. Nowadays the groom/bride to be have the final 'veto', and they also meet beforehand, so it's a bit like going to a blind date arranged by your folks. It's forced marriages that are a different topic altogether.