Holy Matrimony!

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Dressed in an elegantpeacock-bluesalwar suit, the girl stood with her palms folded, her head bowed in reverence to her favourite deity. As she gently said the prayer that she knew so well,  her kohl lined eyelashes fluttered rhythmically with each murmur. She was in her mid twenties and had recently secured her dream job. Life was good and she lived in the hope that it could only get better.
From across the inner sanctum of the temple, a slightly aged-lady carefully eyed the girl. A sly, yet cautious smile flitted over her lips, as she scrutinised the young woman from head to toe. Yes, she would do nicely. Making a minor adjustment to her shimmering yellow and purple sari, the aged-lady slowly made her way towards the young woman.
As she completed her prayer, Kavya looked around. Her father, who had assured her that he would be back in a matter of minutes, was nowhere to be seen. As her eyes continued to scan the crowded temple premises, she noticed an elderly woman, probably in her fifties, limp towards her. She had a smile etched on her face and for some inexplicable reason, Kavya felt drawn to her. Perhaps because the woman resembled her maternal aunt, who had passed away last year from cancer. Kavya flashed the woman a polite smile, and turned towards the exit. “Perhaps Appa is waiting outside”, she thought as she tried to make her way towards the large mahogany doors that served as both the exit and entrance to the temple.
Suddenly, she felt someone grip her right shoulder. Kavya panicked. She’d heard plenty of stories of young girls and women being molested and teased in public places. But she never thought she’d be at the receiving end. That too, at a temple - the holiest of holy places she knew of. Mustering some courage, Kavya turned around. The frown soon turned into a smile as she recognised the person. It was the elderly woman she’d seen earlier.
“Daughter…” gasped the woman, as she tried to lean on Kavya for support. Kavya smiled and slowly helped the woman away from the crowd and sat her down on a stone ledge. “Thank you ….daughter”, said the woman, flashing her yellowing teeth at Kavya. “What’s your name?” she asked, holding Kavya’s hand and beckoning her to sit down beside her on the ledge. “It’s Kavya, aunty. Are you okay?” she asked, slowly trying to wring her hand free from the woman’s vice-like grip.  “Yes…yes…you looked so familiar. And I just wanted to come and talk to you. Tell me this, Are you married?” the woman asked, her eyebrows raised quizzically. At Kavya’s negative reply, a wide grin appeared on the woman’s face. “I know just the right guy for you”, she said, as she pulled out a small tattered black book filled with names and details of potential suitors.

*****

Legend has it, that somewhere deep in the heart of Indian society, there exists a mysterious clan of people with miraculous powers.  They cannot be summoned like how Gotham city requests their black-caped crusader to come to their rescue. Nor can they be coerced to form alliances with others like the famed Marvel Comics franchise. They are an integral part of our social well-being. Or so they claim. For this peculiar clan is bound by their self-imposed duty towards society and has only one sworn goal. To come to the aid of us lesser-beings at the right time and help us make one of life’s important decisions - Finding the “right" person to marry. They exist amongst us; camouflaged and armed with a data bank that could put Google to shame, ready to show themselves only when they sense the right opportunity. For women, that “so-called opportunity” is when they turn a certain age. For men, it is when they are “settled”, with a socially acceptable job and consistent earnings. Welcome to the Indian Matchmaking club, where all of us are mere items to be bartered for the right price.

Come to think of it, I don't think the fact that our society is filled with matchmakers, should surprise us much. After all, even some of our deities and kings (and queens) have had "swayamvara" to decide who would marry whom. Of course, these historical matrimonial systems soon gave way to the professionals - the marriage brokers. Yes, the very men (and some women) who along with the bankers, made that LBP - Little Black Pouch - (not to be confused with LBD - Little Black Dress), incredibly fashionable. Oh, how many souls have been united (and re-united) because of the contents in those LBPs! Of course, along the sidelines were the traditional well-wishers too - people who somehow always claimed to know the right suitors for you; even though you've probably only met them less than a minute ago, for the very first time. Maybe they're just really observant.

However, with technology permeating every single aspect of our lives, the matchmakers have become more internet savvy. Nowadays they masquerade as "professional matrimonial websites" that assure promise you that their “patented and scientifically accurate algorithm” will help anyone get hitched to anyone else. Bollywood song and dance sequences included. Why, some of these (I'm told), even have sophisticated tools which match you (and your potential partner) on even the most  insignificant characteristics like skin colour, body shape, type of hair, length of nose, sanskar-level and much more. What else do you need to help you find your Mr. or Ms. Right?

Though the names and characters in the above piece have been slightly exaggerated,  I did actually witness a similar scene during a recent visit to a famous temple. I suppose it’ll never cease to amaze me how much our society loves to play matchmaker. No matter where the location or who the person, they will always endeavour to find the supposed “right” partner for you.  Or die trying. Once again, welcome to the Indian Matchmaking club. You may check out, but you may never leave.

And as a parting note, I suppose I should say a silent thank you to my wife for accepting me as is. For, if I ever had to go down the route of a matrimonial website, based on their superior complicated algorithm and my seemingly simple tastes, they’d match me to a recliner with an inbuilt beer-cooler. Oh, and a large screen TV.


 [This post is written for the Project 365 program at We Post Daily aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. Today's prompt was :What’s the strangest place from which you’ve posted to your blog? When was the last time you were out and about, and suddenly thought, “I need to write about this!”? The idea for this post was inspired by the temple scene I've described at the beginning]

Image courtesy : Wikipedia.org