What I am going to talk about is old hat. But after observing many such incidents and a few conversations down the years, I do have something to say as this is a topic that rankles me no end.
Take Anita ( not a real name). Anita is a mallu Christian girl, well educated and smart. She is a Senior Software Engineer with us and gets a decent salary. Anita is of marriageable age and her folks are actively looking around for ‘suitable’ grooms. Nothing new here.
Anita’s parents will get several profiles that fit the bill and Anita may like a few from the profiles her parents have gathered. After her parents and she have narrowed down what they feel is best from the proposed grooms the pennu kaanal ceremony begins. This will further narrow down the field to a couple of people that both parties agree on. Till here it is smooth sailing for both parties.
Then comes the crunch. After all this exercise Anita’s father will have to see who he can ‘afford’ among the final list of prospective grooms. The ‘price’ of the groom is taken into consideration and decisions made. If the price is too high, he will have to bargain or pledge land. If the boy’s family refuses to budge then he will have to set his sights lower. He will look for a groom who is perhaps lesser qualified and paid. Most girls will accept the arrangement. Some like Anita will not and decide that they are better off single. But girls like Anita are in the minority. A very tiny miniscule minority.
Marriages in Kerala is like shopping ( I cannot speak for other states). You look around and buy what fits yours or your father’s purse.
If you are exceptionally good looking and fair then there are many rich men willing to marry you without dowry to increase their snob value and the quality content of their gene pool.
If you are drawing a really high compensation package, then you get massive discounts for the best brands.
If Daddy has the moolah then money is not a constraint.
Some gals fall in love and get away without paying; some have to still pay a token advance even if it is a love marriage.
Then if you are lucky some brands may sell at a cheaper price due to age, short stature or faulty packaging like dark complexion or a pot belly or some physical disability.
The lesser mortal’s a.k.a. the qualified but without above attributes have it the toughest. They settle for cheap substitutes (excuse the language but I can’t think of anything else) and envy the luck of the people with more money power.
After the cold and unfeeling 'transaction' is over the wedding takes place and the Bride and Groom actually look happy in the photos.
This is such a well established system that no ones even notices it and look askance at you when you question it.
p.s. since this is a trading environment no protests about “cheap substitutes making good husbands is a cheap shot” and “cheap substitutes are humans too” and “cheap substitutes have feelings” etc will be accepted :p