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Anecdote of the Indispensable Indian Zhola

Disclaimer: This post is very specific to Indian concept of arranged marriages but all are invited to read and comment 🙂

I am a significant obligation of every Indian household that has a boy or girl of marriageable age. I witness a custom of the local aunties and concerned neighbor walking in at any abrupt hour of the day with me carrying numerous pictures of probable matches. These aunties are on a mission to get every prospective candidate married within a set time frame. The quintessential discussion ranges from the candidates height, weight, complexion, education, horoscope and much more. Parents are pressured to create a lie if any of the above criteria’s do not match.

Perplexed boy or girl has no option but to remain silent. The grueling interview sessions come next in line. The ‘well meaning’ aunties fix an appointment for the families of the boy and girl to meet. It is a very strange atmosphere where 10-15 members of the groom’s family land in the bride’s house on an auspicious occasion.
The greetings and introductions through, the never-ending questions of the family members start pouring. The probable match is scanned from head to toe by the ingenious members. Everything from the shape of the nose to the color of the eyes is discussed. The aunties make sure no uneventful discussion occurs and everything that is not acceptable by either party is concealed.

The idea is to make the meeting a success and get the parties to agree on a plausible date for the wedding. If all goes well, the dates are fixed and the horde of relatives is informed about the impending marriage. The customary rituals and the engagement to the reception are all discussed in great detail. The suggestions range from the engagement party theme to the budget of the bride’s trousseau. The exchange of gifts from the bride and groom’s family starts and the sheer display of their financial status put me in trepidation. If only half this wealth was put in a bank account and gifted to the newly wed couple, I am sure it would last them for eternity. The menu is the hot topic in every Indian wedding and every guest has a take on the quality of starters to the amount of spices required to make the main dish mouth-watering to the availability of the desserts.

I witness the quest of marriages that are made in heaven and fulfilled on earth. I view the eagerness in the eyes of the parents to fulfill every desire of the other party. I have seen the father of the bride hold back the tears while concentrating on the arrangements and later crying their hearts out when the daughter is about to leave for her marital home. Refer to the post for an account of an eventful journey of mine.

Modern times have seen my appearance change to a handbag or a folder. I have created histories and a lot of mysteries too. I am a holder of secrets and the whisperer of dreams. I am multi-colored and multi-faceted.


I am the indispensable ‘Zhola’ or the bag that carries the dreams around in the form of pictures and/or profiles of the candidates.