Friday, March 2, 2012

Friday Feature:Rishta Wale Visits!

Asalamu alaikum,

Rishta wale(matchmakers) are one of the main ways that people find a spouse in our family and extended family/friends. I found it very strange, the whole process, but I didn't grow up with it. Now it's just something I have gotten used to.

Risha wale are sometimes just women that have lots of friends, they know people. Within their circle of friends they introduce the families of potential brides/grooms to each other and then just see what happens. Other matchmakers are those who do it professionally, they have offices and charge fees(big fees!).

The professional matchmakers usually require a photo, and you have to fill out a profile, that they match to the potential spouses. After the paperwork, they either accompany one family to visit the other(boy's family usually goes to the girl's house first), or they give the contact numbers to the families and let them contact each other.

This is the part that I am most uncomfortable with. The visits. For me they are doubly awkward, as I do not speak well enough to hold up a conversation very long. Every one in our house runs around pressing clothes, making sure the nice sitting room is cleaned up, and getting some sort of refreshments ready. Usually for the first visit we just serve chai or juice(depending on the season). For second visits there is usually snacks as well- samosey, biscuits, chips, etc.

After the family arrives with the matchmaker, introductions are made, snacks served, then the serious part starts. It is like an interrogation. The potential groom's name, age, education, job status, salary, whether they own or rent a house, how many brothers and sisters, how many of them are married, caste, and a million other questions are put to the potential groom's family. Once all the information is exchanged, then the poor girl is called in. She sits, quietly, while the family stares at her. Checking her height, weight, face. It is generally a visual evaluation, maybe they might ask how old she is, and what education she has completed, but it is not as in depth as the boy's grilling session.

After the visit, each family gives it a couple days, thinks about every thing and then calls the matchmaker to give their answer. It is a stressful process from what I can see, but it seems to work in most cases. The families jointly decide whether someone is acceptable, which is important when many still live in joined families and the new spouse would have to be able to get along with every one.


Farhan Jalil said...

my problem with such visits is that it is one big pretence show like a masquerade. Both parties don't act like they really act and the the curtain falls after the marriage. but then i guess it all depends on person to person at the end of the day

Aishah said...

Salams FarhanJ,

That is very true about the pretense. Sometimes though, I think if everybody in the room acted as they normally do, nobody would ever get married!

You are really right, in the end it just depends on the individuals.

Karen O'Grady said...

When Americans date it is much the same, with both people on their best behavior.
I don't know which method is better...finding your own spouse or having your spouse found for you.